What do you think of when you think about the holidays? You probably think of family, friends, presents, but most of the time the holidays are associated with an abundance of delicious foods. Keeping a healthful diet can be challenging during the holidays; studies have even shown that the average American gains approximately three to five pounds during the winter months due to the holidays. It might not sound like a lot, but these pounds tend to be the ones that stick throughout the rest of the year. It is important to be aware of some small healthful changes that can easily be made to your holiday meals and to keep mindful eating in your thoughts. Some helpful tips when cooking during the holidays include reducing the fat, sugar, and salt, while increasing the fiber to some of your favorite holiday dishes.
To reduce some of the fat content, try reducing the added fat by half or using a substitute for the remaining half such as applesauce or banana when baking. When choosing sour cream or milk at the grocery store, opt for the low-fat versions. Skimming excess fat from the top of gravies and draining excess fat from cooked meats are simple ways to cut down on fat as well.
Reducing the amount of sugar can also be as simple as adding about ¼ cup less sugar and adding extra spices to your favorite baked good recipe.
If you use canned or frozen vegetables for cooking, choose vegetables with no added salt or rinse the vegetables before cooking to remove some of the excess salt. When using store-bought broth or soup, make sure to purchase a low-sodium or no salt version and add salt to your own desire.
To increase fiber and other nutrients, try switching out refined flours with whole-wheat flours such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, or oatmeal. Vegetables and fruits also provide fiber and can be added to dishes like chili, spaghetti sauce, casseroles, stews, salads, muffins, and desserts.
Healthier cooking techniques:
When cooking your holiday meals, use healthier cooking techniques that will help reduce the fat content such as nonstick pans, baking, grilling, or poaching.