5 Dietitian-Approved Festival Foods For The Holiday Season
November 13, 2017 | BY Sally Shi-Po Poon
Eating healthy during the holiday season must be one of the most difficult challenges for many, as we’re often surrounded by so much delicious food and drinks.
Although there is no reason to feel guilty about enjoying yourself on these special days of the year, it’s worth remembering that most people gain about 0.4 to 0.9 kg during the festive period due to over-eating.
But don’t despair—this year can be different. Here are my recommended festival foods and healthy eating tips to help you stay in shape this season:
Turkey is the culinary star of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a good source of lean protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Enjoy turkey baked or roasted—place turkey on a rack while cooking so fat will drain off and use a paper towel to soak up fat.
It's best to remove the skin before you cook as most of the fat is found in the skin and the vegetables tend to absorb the fat easily. When making gravy, try to use vegetable broth or remove the fat if using meat juices.
Cranberries are an excellent source of proanthocyanidins which help maintain a healthy urinary tract. Cranberries are harvested and sold fresh in the fall, but they're processed and sold year-round frozen, dried, canned, or as juice.
Try turkey with cranberry stuffing or cranberry sauce. Alternatively, add cranberries to Christmas pudding or mince pies; or use unsweetened cranberry juice for making mulled wine or mocktails.
See also: 5 Foods To Eat For Healthy Skin
Brussels sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and fibre. They are classified as cruciferous vegetables, which may help protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. They can be roasted, sautéed or steamed (boiling them will lead to significant loss of vitamin C so is less preferred).
Use olive or canola oil instead of butter or grease from meats, try using oil spray or brush to control the amount of oil added, and roast on a non-stick tray or foil.
Pumpkin is the most popular food for Halloween and pumpkin pie is an American tradition for Thanksgiving. This colourful starchy vegetable is rich in carbohydrates, vitamin A, potassium and fibre.
To make a healthy version of pumpkin pie, choose low-fat milk or soymilk, and real pumpkin or unflavored canned pumpkin. Avoid serving with whipped cream or ice cream on top. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of protein, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Enjoy a small handful of roasted pumpkin seeds as a healthy snack over chocolates and crisps.
See also: 5 Foods For Healthy Bones & Joints
Pies (no, really)
Christmas pudding and mince pies are packed with fruits so they are rich in fibre and antioxidants. Serve Christmas pudding with low-fat custard or crème fraiche, and try lighter version of mince pies made with filo pastry. Don’t forget to control the portions too—always share the dessert with your friend to cut the calories.
Bonus tips to control your weight during the holiday season:
Being active can help you burn off the extra treats you couldn’t resist. Why not dance the night away at the parties and go for a brisk walk after a meal.
Drink in moderation
Don’t forget that drinks have calories too. Try alternating your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages such as sparkling water, diet sodas or diluted unsweetened juice. Offer to drive so you can stay away from alcohol and always put a jar of water on the table at mealtimes.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to enjoy the holiday and have a wonderful time with your loved ones. Remember, weight maintenance is a success, and following my tips above will help you have a good time without overindulging.
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