Stay healthy during the holidays

Published 9:56 pm Saturday, December 17, 2011

With Christmas just around the corner, there’s going to be plenty of delectable temptations for people to dive into both at parties and at home.

But there are plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday treats without compromising on healthy choices.

Jennifer Shea, a registered dietitian, has a list of tricks for staying healthy during the holiday season.

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One of the first ways to cut the guilt during Christmas is by making better decisions about the tasty beverages.

Shea suggests people be mindful of the festive drinks and cocktails because they are often loaded with calories.

You can cut down on the calories by alternating between sparkling seltzer with lime and an alcoholic drink or by filling your glass with half eggnog and half skim milk, which slices the calories in half.

Another beverage that should be remembered during the holidays is water.

Shea recommends people stay hydrated by drinking a couple of glasses of water before, during and after holiday parties.

Staying hydrated can help people to feel full and helps with fatigue during Christmas season.

The Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs also offers tips about how to stay healthy during Christmas.

The group recommends only taking foods from buffets that look appetizing, rather than taking a little bit of everything, to avoid overeating.

Additionally, Shea said, instead of having one person host and cook for the holiday party, Shea said, you can invite friends over and ask them to bring healthy spins on great food that taste just as good.

By doing this, she said, no one has to spend all day in the kitchen, and everyone can enjoy time with each other.

Another way to put a spin on the holidays is to make traditional holiday treats into healthy dishes.

For example, Shea said, people can reduce the calories in green bean casserole by using sautéed onions as a topping instead of fried ones and reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup in it.

You can also put out hummus and sliced vegetables out for appetizers in place of the chips and dip.

The VA also suggests people remember to watch their portions while eating at holiday parties.

Starches, such as corn and potatoes, should be served in portions no larger than a fist, but your plate can be filled with vegetables to avoid wasting too many calories.

During the holidays, people tend to go overboard with eating, specifically between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Shea said to enjoy holiday food without overindulging, people should slow down to savor the flavors.

And if you do overdo it one day, she said, don’t worry about it and just move on with your diet the next day.