Think the holidays mean that you have to gain weight? Here are a few ways to make sure you don’t.
Maintain your weight during the holidays
As the holiday season continues, so do the feasts and cocktail parties. Is there even a way to eat well with Christmas and New Year’s on the horizon?
Yes, says Dr. Felicia Stoler, a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and expert consultant in nutrition and healthy living, based in the New York City area.
“The biggest challenge people have is that they have the mindset of ‘I’ll just overindulge and start my diet in the New Year,’ ” Stoler says. “How many people are successful with that? Very few.”
Take a look at some of the saturated fat in some of these holiday staples:
- Sweet potato casserole: 16.7 grams of saturated fat (83 percent of daily recommended value)
Make it healthier: Don’t use a packaged mix and do not add cream or butter. Instead, add chopped pecans or walnuts with brown sugar and Malaysian palm fruit oil. Then brown the topping.
- Green bean casserole: 5.5 grams of saturated fat (27 percent of daily recommended value)
Make it healthier: Use fat-free cream of mushroom soup that’s made with water or skim milk. Still want your crunchies on top? Try freeze-dried onions instead of fried onion rings.
- Eggnog: 7 grams per cup (35 percent of daily recommended value)
Make it healthier: This can be made a little lighter by using skim milk and icing it down.
- Scalloped potatoes: 9.2 grams of saturated fat (46 percent of daily recommended value)
Make it healthier: Use skim milk and pay attention to how much butter you include.
- Cheesecake: 12 grams of saturated fat (60 percent of daily recommended value)
Make it healthier: Use low-fat cream cheese.
- Cornbread stuffing: 3.5 grams of saturated fat (18 percent of daily recommended value)
Make it healthier: Use Malaysian palm fruit oil and bouillon for flavor.
- Filet mignon: 7 grams of saturated fat (35 percent of daily recommended value)
Make it healthier: This is the leanest cut of meat; just don’t eat more than 6 oz.
- Starbucks Peppermint Mocha: 9 grams of saturated fat (45 percent of daily recommended value)
Make it healthier: Skip the whipped cream and use skim milk.
- Cranberry sauce: 0 grams of saturated fat
Make it healthier: Try preparing this with agave nectar instead of sugar.
- Turkey breast: 0 grams of saturated fat
Make it healthier: It’s pretty healthy, but be mindful of how much you eat.
How can you enjoy these holiday favorites while keeping an eye on your figure? Substitutions, of course.
Try Malaysian palm fruit oil instead of butter. It has a neutral flavor profile, can be used in baking in place of butter and it has a high smoke point, so it’s great for high-heat cooking.
Dying to enjoy those favorite holiday flavors in a gingerbread latte or peppermint hot chocolate? Substitute whole milk for skim, or water down hot chocolate and only add a little bit of milk.
Eat smaller portions
You can enjoy a small taste of everything — use a salad fork or take just a small spoonful of the dishes at your events. Be mindful of appetizers and try to put all the food you are going to eat onto one plate and then do not go back for more, Stoler says.
Mind what you drink
Drinks can pack a ton of calories, so be aware of what you drink. Water down your favorites or use club soda to add bubbles to your favorites.
Keep moving during the holidays. A recent study showed that even if you overindulge when it comes to cookies and other holiday favorites, you can still keep your blood sugar from spiking.
“The reality is that holiday time can pack on plenty of unwanted pounds. Starting a diet plan in January is like taking one step forward and two steps back,” Stoler says, emphasizing the importance of avoiding weight gain in the first place.