The holidays are about celebrating with good times and good food. But sometimes the foods we eat can leave us feeling less than jolly. Planning ahead will help you make the right choices when preparing a menu or sampling a holiday buffet.

Think Before You Eat

Almost all foods can be enjoyed as long as you don’t overdo it. Our dietitians suggest these tips for controlling calorie intake:

  • Slow down. Take time to savor food’s aromas and textures. You will enjoy it more and eat less.
  • Eat smaller portions of items like potato salad, lasagna and casseroles, and try larger portions of fresh salads, plain potatoes, brown rice, and steamed or roasted vegetables.
  • Eat lean proteins like sliced chicken breast or baked turkey without the skin. Try legumes and beans as a protein source. Avoid red meat, pork, pâtés and gravies.
  • Limit second helpings. After you finish eating, move away from the dinner table so you won’t be tempted to overeat.
  • Skip sodas, eggnog and other sugar-sweetened drinks. Opt for herbal teas, cider or water with lemon.
  • Balance your calories wisely. If you can’t resist a slice of pie, make it a small serving and skip a high-calorie side dish.

Modify Your Favorite Holiday Recipes

Recipes can be made healthier by substituting fat and salt with healthier alternatives. Experiment with the following suggestions to find out what works best for your recipes:

  • Replace whole milk or cream with skim milk or nondairy alternatives, such as rice, low-fat soy or almond milk.
  • Replace butter and margarine with healthy oils like olive and canola.
  • Puree cooked carrots, potatoes or cauliflower and use instead of butter or flour to thicken soups, stews and sauces.
  • Substitute salt with herb blends, garlic or onion powder, or low-sodium broths.
  • Grill, poach, stew, bake or broil foods instead of deep frying.
  • Use vegetable cooking sprays to prevent foods from sticking to pots and pans.

Treat yourself

For dessert, enjoy fresh fruit with whipped topping, sorbets, minty hot chocolate or baked apples with low-fat frozen yogurt. Or try the recipe on next page for holiday goodness that won’t ruin your waistline.