Published on November 23, 2020

Woman taking a turkey out of the oven.

Practice healthy eating this holiday season

The holiday season extends from late November through early January. That means there are plenty of opportunities for you to practice healthy eating habits so you can enjoy a higher calorie meal or treat on the holidays.

Tatiana Castellino, a ProHealth Care diabetes dietitian and educator, recommends moderation and mindfulness when it comes to healthy eating. Large platefuls of calorie-laden foods or extra helpings can result in more than double the calories recommended for an entire day.

"Slow down and make deliberate decisions," Castellino said. "People can become conditioned to dish up even when they already have plenty to eat. Others are so conscious about calories that they deprive themselves of a delicious holiday dish or treat."

Here are some easy ways to make holiday and winter meals more nutritious and satisfying:

  • Eat more fiber and protein than carbohydrates.
  • Practice portion control. A portion of vegetables is the size of a baseball. A portion of meat is the size of a deck of cards. A portion of cheese is the size of three dice.
  • Eat fresh seasonal foods. Good fall options include apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mesclun, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, pears, potatoes, shallots, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes and turnips.
  • Reduce sugar in recipes by up to half.
  • Use spices for flavor and dried fruits for sweetness.
  • Mash potatoes with low-sodium broth and canned evaporated skim milk rather than butter.
  • Use pineapple or orange juice thickened with cornstarch as a glaze for poultry.
  • When baking, substitute oil with an equal portion of applesauce, pureed beans, bananas or nonfat vanilla yogurt, and replace half of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
  • Substitute one whole egg with two egg whites.

Castellino also recommends that you drink water for hydration and to help you feel full, sit down to eat meals, limit snacking and keep track of what you eat. When you make deliberate decisions and keep active, you can enjoy your favorite holiday meals and treats without guilt and deprivation.