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Home > Newsletters > December 2006 > Guide to Holiday Eating

Guide to Holiday Eating

Can you remember back in January after stepping on the scale, that you wished you hadnít had that last piece of pie, the extra gravy, or that cup of eggnog? You were not alone! Studies show that the average American gains one to two pounds during the holiday season. Although that may not seem like a lot, each year adds up and can contribute to a lot of excess weight. But that doesnít mean that it will happen to you!

Follow these simple tips for healthy holiday eating and come January, perhaps the only wish youíll have is that you have a sweetheart on Valentineís Day!

1. Donít attempt to lose weight. Set a more realistic goal to maintain weight.

2. Donít skip meals because you ďknow youíll make up for it laterĒ. This way of thinking only leads to overeating later.

3. Start your day with a healthy breakfast that includes whole grains, fruit, dairy, and protein foods like eggs or peanut butter.

4. Try small snacks throughout the day in order to save most of your calories for the main meal and to avoid eating too much.

5. If youíre working, try bringing healthy snacks to work to avoid being tempted by the holiday treats, but allow yourself to try a small amount of your favorite foods because you donít want to feel deprived,

6. At meals, try a small amount of foods you enjoy and fill the rest of your plate with lower calorie foods such as fruit, vegetables, and starches.

7. Try planning ahead! You can prepare several quick, healthy meals, which can be reheated.

8. If you know whatís on the menu in advance, visualize what you will eat before you go, so you can enjoy your friends and family and not worry about making the wrong food choice!

9. Always eat something before you drink alcohol because drinking on an empty stomach can lead to overeating and overdrinking.

10. For potlucks, bring your favorite low-calorie dish, so at least youíll have one healthy dish.

11. Donít forget to exercise! Even though itís a busy time of year, the importance of maintaining your exercise regimen is central to maintaining your pre-holiday figure!!!

Try these healthy substitutions below when preparing your favorite holiday dish and feel good about yourself this holiday season!


Holiday Dish

Healthy Alternative

Turkey Take off the skin when you eat it. Choose white meat instead of dark.
Mashed Potatoes Use skim milk instead of whole milk or cream. Use a little olive oil or low fat margarine instead of butter. Try using a variety of potatoes with skins for extra fiber.


Cranberries Use sugar substitute instead of sugar.
Stuffing Use whole grain breads instead of white bread. Use low sodium chicken broth instead of butter.
Candied Yams Use sugar substitute; use low fat margarine instead of butter; avoid marshmallows. Use cinnamon, a little orange juice or unsweetened applesauce to add flavor.
Pumpkin Pie Use sugar substitute and add more cinnamon and spices. Use evaporated skim milk instead of regular. Use egg whites instead of eggs. Use gingersnaps as crust. Avoid whipped cream, or use fat free whipped cream.
Apple Pie Add extra cinnamon and spices for flavoring. Use sugar substitute. Add a few chopped nuts and crushed high fiber cereal to add more fiber.
Eggnog Use fat free or low fat version. Try soy eggnog. Try making your own with bananas, skim milk, ice, nutmeg, cinnamon and rum extract.

Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Guide to Holiday Eating


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