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Enjoy Guilt-Free Holiday Celebrations

'Tis the season to be Jolly, but are you worried that the holiday will destroy healthful food habits nurtured all year long? The good news is any foods can fit into a healthful eating plan with practice and planning. Enjoy time with friends and family and feel good this year that you can rise to the challenge ahead.

Challenge 1: Festive fatty holiday dishes

Prepare small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can eat celebration foods without overdoing your calorie intake for the day. You and the kids can have small, low-calorie snack such as fruit or veggies before you head out the door to curb hunger and avoid overeating at the party.

If you're bringing a dish, make it healthfully delicious and low-calorie. Vegetables with a yogurt or cottage cheese dip, fresh fruit or whole-grain pasta salad are sure to be crowd p leasers. Here are some “almost can’t tell the difference” recipe substitutions

  • Use evaporated skim milk in place of heavy cream or whole milk in any dish

  • Greek or regular low-fat plain yogurt is a substitute for heavy cream and sour cream

  • Reduce sugar by 1/3 in any recipe

  • Substitute applesauce in baked goods for oil or butter

  • Cut desserts and sweets smaller or go mini

Challenge 2: Holiday parties

Remember, to settle into the festivities instead of heading straight to the buffet table. Ask for sparkling water and lime, which doesn’t supply calories, and start mingling. When it’s time to eat start by making just one trip and choose the foods you really want to eat. Try filling half your plate with lower-calorie party foods like fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, just a taste satisfies a craving or curiosity, so keep portions small.

Challenge 3: Fighting holiday weight gain

Balance "party calories" with more physical activity. Even though it may be cold outside, these everyday activities can take only 10 minutes at a time, and will help you get moving during the holidays:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

  • Play actively with your kids, grand kids or pets.

  • After dinner, take a walk with your family—even if it's just around the block.

Challenge 4: Family members with Health concerns

Almost all of us will entertain friends family members with health concerns or food allergies at some point. Definitely search some recipes before any event and add one new dessert or dish that will please the entire family. Try sugar-free, reduced-fat, and sugar-free treats.

Happy Holidays

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