Healthy for the Holidays. Healthy Holiday Eating.
How do you keep from gaining weight this holiday season?
You can enjoy an occasional sugar-containing food, but it must be substituted for other
carbohydrates already in your diet. If you want a small slice of pumpkin pie, for example, give up
the baked potato and toppings at dinner.
Decide ahead of time what and how much you will eat and how you will handle social pressure to
indulge in foods that are not normally in your diet.
Take a smaller serving size of dessert or scrape off the high-fat whipped cream topping.
Volunteer to bring a favorite low-sugar dish such as baked apples or sugar-free puddings to social
When you are making a festive dessert, try cutting the sugar by one-third to one-half and
increasing the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and any other sweet-tasting spices and flavorings.
NEVER attend a social event hungry. ALWAYS snack before you leave home.
What are good, healthy alternatives to certain holiday favorites?
Raw vegetables. In addition to the traditional carrot and celery sticks, olives (both black and green),
broccoli, cauliflower and radish roses, include something different like artichoke hearts (available
marinating in oil in glass jars, or canned in water), jicama sticks or slices, zucchini slices, mushrooms –
raw, marinated or stuffed.
All nuts: almonds, filberts (hazelnuts), brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds,
sunflower seeds, walnuts.
Guacamole, all sorts of bean dips, hummus (garbanzo beans), tahini (ground sesame and lemon juice),
pineapple salsa, eggless mayonnaise (see separate recipe) combined with any of the following – curry
powder, mustard, dried minced onion. I like it thinned with a little Italian dressing. (“Paul Newman’s
Own” dressing is free of sugars and preservatives, as are several brands found on the shelves of natural
food stores.) Any salad dressing can be used as a sauce or a dip. Nut butters can be thinned a bit with
water or oil. I love raw cauliflower dipped into cashew butter, or carrot sticks and almond butter. Raw
broccoli and sesame butter is another winning combination. Most nut butters are unsalted. To bring the
flavor up to what is expected of a “dip”, add a little sea salt to taste, and stir well.
How much, is too much to eat?
Try to limit each portion/food group to the size of your fist. Protein (turkey, fish, chicken, etc) one fist,
veggie one fist, starch (potato, yam, etc) one fist. If you are trying mashed potato and yams and rice or
pasta, the total starch serving would be a fist.
What are the health dangers for over indulging during the holidays?
The main danger is immune system compromise from sugar. An overdose of sugar, eating or drinking 100
grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of two- and-a-half 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of
white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent. With all the concerns about flu, we need the best
functioning immune system possible. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty
minutes after ingestion. Maximum immune suppression occurs one to two hours after ingestion and
remains suppressed for up to five hours after feeding. In contrast, the ingestion of complex
carbohydrates (vegetables), or starches, has no effect on the immune system.
There are many alternatives to sugar, such as stevia, xylitol, and maltitol. According to available research
the current status is that maltitol does not have an immune suppressor effect. But the best thing to do is
use other alternatives, to sweeten foods naturally.
Adding Sweetness: Reduce fruit juices to one-third of their original volume by boiling over high heat for
concentrated flavors and sweetness. Dried fruits, such as plums, raisins, apples, pears, peaches, apricots,
cherries and cranberries provide bursts of sweetness. Cutting each one into very small pieces helps
distribute the flavors and sweetness more evenly. Over ripe fruits, such as bananas, provide a tremendous
amount of sweetness, moisture and flavor.
Flavorings: orange or lemon zest brings out the fruitiness in a dish and heightens the flavors of the
ingredients used. Vanilla and nut flavorings produce an aroma of “fattening” sweetness and buttery nuts
without the use of butter or excessive use of nuts. Sweet-enhancing spices such as cinnamon, cloves,
allspice, ginger and nutmeg intensify flavors in a dish. Topping baked goods with fruit, fruit spread or a
generous amount of cinnamon mixed with some sugar substitute allows the flavors to be on top and tasted
The way to supercharge your immune system and reduce the potential for sickness is to eat plenty of raw
fresh vegetables, greens, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Avoid sweetened, caffeinated beverages,
sugar laden pastries and snack bars, soda, sugary cereals, and read your labels. If your a woman, keep you
sugar intake to no more than 25 grams(100 calories) per day total and men no more than 37 grams(150
calories) total from all food sources.
Do you have any healthy recipe ideas? See our next Blog Post for Recipes!