Holiday healthy eating tips

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

The holiday season just wouldn’t be quite as delightful without some special, baked goodies using recipes that have often been handed-down from mom, grandma and even great-grandma.

But with just a few tasty tweaks, these yummy treats can become healthier.  Here’s how:

  • Instead of butter, use equal parts cinnamon-flavored no-sugar-added applesauce.
  • Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie sugar substitute or half the sugar.
  • Instead of cream, use low-fat or skim milk.

Likewise, if you’re attending a holiday party, try these tips for healthy-eating success:

  • Take smaller bites & eat at a slower pace. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal that you’re full.
  • Choose one dessert you really want, and truly enjoy it.
  • Use a smaller plate and fill half of your plate with veggies.
  • Avoid sour cream, cream dips, butter, mayonnaise and gravy.

Here’s to Happy, Healthy Holidays!

Good nutrition and exercise are more important now than ever 

Ahh, the holiday season is right around the corner—and for many folks, it’s truly the best time of the year, complete with family reunions, and friend-filled parties and get-togethers.

Alas, many of us are either watching our weight, our blood sugars, cholesterol or more, so how can a reveler have fun but stay on the healthy side of food and drink?

We asked Margaret Brown, a registered dietitian at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, for her advice.

Q:  Why is good nutrition so important during the holiday season?

A:  At this time of year, treating your body wisely is especially important—particularly if you live with a chronic disease such as diabetes, COPD or heart disease.  That’s because even a few hours of overindulgence can trigger unhealthy blood pressure, fluid retention or increased blood sugars.

Q:  How can I (and why should I) plan for exercising when it’s so easy to be overloaded with “must-do” activities?

A:  Exercise is very important to fit into your schedule because regular exercise keeps your stress hormones in check, plus increased activity will help combat holiday depression.

Fortunately, our wonderful Arizona wintertime weather makes it easy.  You can meet your neighbors, family and friends for a round-the block walk, an early-morning hike or perhaps a game of pickleball or bowling.  Whatever the activity is, take the time needed to do it.  You won’t regret it.

Q:  What are some tips for avoiding healthy-eating roadblocks?

A:  Don’t get complacent—make a pre-party plan so you can enjoy some of those decadent holiday treats without overindulging.

In addition, if you’re a guest, offer to bring a colorful veggie platter or fruit plate with a low-calorie dip.  If you’re the host, make the theme “healthy foods” and share your tips and recipes.

And remember:  Alcohol can lead to overindulgence, so pace yourself—and don’t forget to sip on water throughout the event to stay hydrated.

Q:  How can I politely decline someone’s ‘only-make-em-once-a-year’ holiday goodies?

A:  Take the pressure off by talking to the host in advance.  Your good friends will understand and be glad you’re there to share in the social and happy times that come with the holidays.


(Originally published Dec. 2, 2016; last updated Jan. 12, 2019.)

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