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Guest Column: A Holly, Jolly and Healthy Holiday Season

Last Updated Thursday, December 06, 2012 2:04:32 PM


Image of a person eating an appleBy Jodi Bjurman, RD, CDE -- Outpatient Nutrition Expert

The season for family, friends and festivities is in full swing. It's also the season for food…lots of it. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year, which, over time, can add up.

While the tried and true advice of eating (and drinking) in moderation always applies, there are also a number of easy substitutions you can make - whether you are hosting or attending a party this holiday season - that will allow you and your guests to enjoy the merriment without packing on the unnecessary pounds.

Crunchy and Healthy: Rather than serve the high calorie butter crackers and cheese (70-100 calories per serving), substitute with either pita and hummus or fresh vegetables. Not only will they cut calories by one-fourth but the colors will brighten up any holiday table.

It's not Nuts to Substitute: One ounce of nuts can run nearly 175 calories. A great alternative is small pretzel twists – 8 of them are only 160 calories and they have far less sodium, as well.

Have your Cake and Eat it, too: Instead of pecan pie or cheesecake, serve angel food cake (70-100 calories) and top with fresh berries or low-fat sorbet. There is also a low-calorie pumpkin version for that special holiday flavor. (See below for the recipe).

Eggnog or Egg-not?: The holidays wouldn’t be the same without this festive beverage. Instead of an entire cup of regular eggnog, which can be 340 calories or more, offer low-fat eggnog (about 150 calories) or even sugar-free hot chocolate (60 calories).

A Wine Spritzer Toast: Adding four ounces of seltzer water to four ounces of wine makes a sparkling, delicious and low calorie (80 calorie) alternative to a traditional 8 ounce glass of wine (165 calories).

Fresh Breath, Overeating Deterrent: After eating, having a mint or gum will reduce the temptation to have more food.

In addition to these substitutions, here are other tips and tricks to help you get through any holiday gathering with your waistline intact:

  • Eat a high fiber snack or a bowl of broth soup before any party so you don’t arrive hungry.
  • Before you dig in, walk around the party, take note of the food options and then make 3-4 selections.
  • Instead of filling a large plate, use a small plate or even a napkin to keep your portions manageable.
  • After you‘ve selected your 3-4 items, step away from the buffet and take the opportunity to meet and mingle with other guests or check out the decor.
  • Focus on the passed hors d’oeurves. Passed items are usually fancier and more expensive. These items will create a more interesting and satisfying meal, which can help you eat less.

Most important this holiday season, be realistic with yourself about your health goals and have a plan. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the time with family and friends and kick off the new year with a healthy start!


Pumpkin Angel Food Cake*

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 14

Ingredients:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 (16 ounce) package one-step angel food cake mix

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
2. In a second bowl, prepare the cake mix, according to direction
3. Fold in ¼ of the batter into the pumpkin mixture. Gently fold in the remaining batter.
4. Gently spoon into an ungreased tube pan
5. Bake on the lowest oven rack at 350°F for 38-44 minutes or until top is golden brown
6. Cool inverted on wire rack until cool

*courtesy of contributor to food.com