‘Tis The Season To Be Eating… Healthy!

Healthy Thanksgiving FoodThe holiday season means celebrating with family and friends but most importantly eating delicious holiday food! Everyone wants to enjoy the season so it is easy to overindulge in food and gain weight without even knowing it. Typical thanksgiving meals alone are 4,500 calories! This does not include breakfast or lunch. On average, Americans gain at least 1-2 pounds during the holidays. Although this may not seem like a lot, this weight can add up and lead to overweight in the long run. To avoid weight gain and overeating this holiday season, follow a few of these simple tips!

Be realistic
Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays; instead, plan to maintain your current weight.

Make holiday shopping a workout
Do not fight for the closest parking spot.  Instead, park on the opposite side of the lot. Take the stairs instead of the escalators or elevators when shopping at the mall. Eat at home before you shop and pack some healthy snacks with you to avoid food court temptations.

Plate your food wisely
Scan the food table before you serve your plate. Try filling ½ of your plate with fruits and vegetables first and fill the rest with your favorites. Aim for eating only 1 plate.

Be mindful of what you eat
Eating in a social situation can prevent you from paying attention to the amount of food you’re eating and how fast you’re eating it. Slow down and enjoy the taste of the food. Consider skipping foods that are not your absolute favorites to reduce calories.

Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals may cause you to overeat at holiday celebrations. Eat a balanced breakfast with sources of protein (such as eggs, low-fat yogurt, and lean meats) to stay full until your next meal. Before any parties, eat a light snack such as fruit or a handful of nuts to curb your appetite.

Watch what you drink
Hot cocoa and pumpkin spice lattes may be tempting during the winter season but should be limited because they have a lot of sugar. Aim for no more than one a week. To cut back on extra drink calories, order them “skinny” which replaces the whipped cream and whole milk with non-fat milk.

Plan to exercise during the holidays; a 30 minute brisk walk everyday can keep off the extra pounds!

What about the children?

  • 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day is the recommended amount for children, but according to The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), in 2011 only 15 % of children ate vegetables 3 or more times per day.
  • To ensure that your children get plenty of nutrition during the holidays, make their favorite fruits and vegetables more available. Prepare a ready to eat tray of their favorite fruits and vegetables with a healthy dip such as low fat yogurt or humus. Make holiday flavored fruit smoothies (with cinnamon or peppermint). Count down every day until the holiday with a fruit filled treat.
  • Allow your children to help you cook healthy meals because they may be more willing to eat foods which they have helped prepare.

Modifying Holiday Recipes

  • Mashed potatoes — Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
  • Pumpkin pie — Consider serving the pumpkin pie without the crust to reduce calories and fat. Substitute heavy cream with evaporated skim milk or light cream in your recipe. Pumpkin is a good source of beta-carotene so the pumpkin filling will be a tasty, yet healthy treat.
  • Turkey — Instead of covering your turkey with butter to make it taste good, keep the skin on while cooking and use a little bit of lemon juice. Once the turkey is cooked, remove the skin. These changes will get rid of unwanted calories but the turkey will still be juicy and tasty!

Try this healthy twist on the traditional Green Bean Casserole.Healthy Green Bean Casserole RecipeIngredients
Breadcrumb topping:
3 slices dry whole-wheat bread, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, soft, cut into pieces

1 pound fresh green beans, ends removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Prepare the topping by mixing the bread and butter in food processor.
  3. Cut green beans in half. Cook 3 minutes in boiling water. Drain into a colander and splash with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook 4 minutes, stirring often, until onions are golden brown. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute, stirring. Remove from heat.
  5. Add cheese and stir until it melts. Mix yogurt with salt and pepper and add to the onion mixture. Stir well.
  6. Add green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake 30 minutes, until topping is golden.

Nutrition Per Serving
Calories 273.8, Total Fat 12.5 g, Saturated Fat 6.0 g, Cholesterol 26.4 mg, Sodium 557.8 mg, Total Carbohydrate 28.1 g, Dietary Fiber 4.7 g, Sugars 2.3 g, Protein 14.6 g, Weight Watchers Points Plus: 7 points

Recipe from healthyrecipesblog.com

Blog post co-written by Afshan Mohammed, TWU dietetic intern


About Lisa Hastings, registered dietitian

I am a native Houstonian, Registered Dietitian, and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietitecs in the Adolescent Medicine and Sports Medicine Clinic at Texas Childrens Hospital.

I have worked in pediatric nutrition for over 10 years with a special interest currently in overweight, obese and athletic adolescents. In addition to seeing patients I teach and conduct nutrition research. I am a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition dietetic practice group.

Posted in Nutrition, Parenting

One Response to ‘Tis The Season To Be Eating… Healthy!

  1. Pingback: Keep Yourself Healthy With This Great Nutrition Advice | Healthy Weight Loss System

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