Healthy For The Holidays: 5 Dietitians Share Seasonal Eating Tips

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This time of year, the holiday cheer is bountiful – and so is the food. From potlucks, parties and holiday feasts, it can be difficult to stay on top of your healthy eating routine.

Dietitians from around Henry Ford Health System share their strategies for enjoying the holidays without overindulging.

Darlene Zimmerman

Darlene Zimmerman, RD
Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute

What is a healthy side dish you make during the holidays?

Roasted vegetables are always my go-to, healthy side dish. Carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli or Brussels sprouts work well. I toss them with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper, and pop them in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or so. If I’m in a savory mood, I drizzle the roasted vegetables with a balsamic glaze. If I’ve got a sweet tooth, I drizzle them with honey or maple syrup.

How do you reuse holiday leftovers in a creative, healthy way?

A few years ago, I came up with a cranberry vinaigrette salad dressing using leftover cranberry sauce. This healthy dressing is great on romaine, spinach or spring mix greens, topped with dried cranberries, chopped pecans and thinly sliced red onion.

1/2 cup cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt

Place ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, cover and shake to combine.

Beeler Shiseida 19

Sayde Beeler, MSW, RDN, CSG

Henry Ford Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

What is a classic dish with a healthy twist you make during the holidays?

Sweet potato casserole! Adjust the recipe for a delicious dish everyone will love:

  • Use low-fat or plant-based milk
  • Use 100 percent maple syrup instead of highly-processed sugar
  • Use whole-wheat flour (fiber) mixed with cubed butter and nuts (healthy fats) such as almonds, pecans or walnuts for the crumb topping

Do you have any tips for cooking during the holidays?

Modify your menu. Avoid frying foods. Instead, bake, roast, braise or grill. If you don’t have many vegetables, add a few healthy veggie sides or a salad to the table. For traditional dishes that are must-haves, try to reduce the amount of saturated fats and sugars. Use unsalted butter instead of salted, swap for low-sodium broths or experiment with other spices in your cabinet to add flavor.

Conley Maria 17

Maria Conley, RDN
Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine - Functional Medicine

How do you personally stay on track during the holidays?

It’s easy to come up with a lot of excuses of why I can’t exercise – cold weather, lack of time, too much effort to make it to the gym and, most recently, an infant tied to my hip.

My go-to has been YouTube. I put the baby on the floor, and I exercise right there with her. Search for anything and everything. When I’m strapped for time, I search for a “1-mile power walk,” or “15-minute relaxing yoga.” Best of all, no teeth-brushing is required, and workouts are pajama-friendly.

What is your advice for enjoying holiday food without overindulging?

When it comes to making food choices, break-up with the idea that the holiday is a season to overindulge from Halloween to New Year's. The holiday is really a select number of days. If I celebrate a holiday ONE day this week, I have 6 other days in the week to try and stay on track. It’s a balancing act.

Saperstein Halle 16

Halle Saperstein, RD
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

How do you personally stay on track during the holidays?

There are a lot of simple ways I stay on track during this time of year including:

  • Scheduling exercise as I would schedule any appointment in my calendar
  • Tracking calorie intake with the MyFitnessPal app
  • Taking the stairs, parking far away at a mall to get extra steps

What is your advice for enjoying holiday food without overindulging?

Before dinner: Make sure you are drinking water throughout the day. Also try and limit your alcohol consumption. Considering a glass of sparkling water with lemon or even a mocktail instead.

During dinner: Look over all your options at the table. Try and fill up with lean turkey and veggies, but if you can’t ignore some of your favorite sides, take only a small portion.

After dinner: Go for a walk! This will make you feel better after a big meal and help you get extra steps in. Make sure to round out the day by getting a good night’s sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of shut eye a night.

Do you have any tips for cooking during the holidays?

Use Google and healthy cooking cookbooks to meal plan. Try a few of the recipes with your family or coworkers before the big day.

Jurek Patricia 14C jpg 1

Patricia Jurek, RD, MBA
Henry Ford Macomb Hospital Center for Weight Management

What is a classic dish with a healthy twist you make during the holidays?

Make “pie” without the crust. Just spray the pie pan or non-stick dish with vegetable oil spray. For pumpkin pie, make with evaporated skim milk, a little orange zest and reduce the sugar. If apple pie is your choice, add the filling to the lightly sprayed dish, top with granola and bake into a crumble.

Or, instead of traditional green bean casserole, serve steamed or roasted green beans. Add lightly sautéed mushrooms, onion and garlic for more flavor. You can even make ahead and warm up the day of the event!

What is your advice for enjoying holiday food without overindulging?

Don’t skip meals on the day of the event. Eat well-balanced meals and snacks during the day to reduce chances of overeating.

Remember, keep focused on your “why” – your goal of health and wellness. Is it a non-negotiable? Maybe yes, maybe no, but decide if what you're eating aligns with your vision.

How do you reuse holiday leftovers in a creative, healthy way?

Make a soup! It’s an excellent vessel for packing in tons of vegetables and beans while making you feel like you're not eating the same meal twice.

Better yet, have your guests take leftovers with them so you aren’t tempted to feast again!


To find a registered dietitian at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

 

For more advice on nutrition and healthy eating, visit our EatWell section and subscribe to receive a weekly email of our latest posts.

Categories: EatWell

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