Healthy Holiday Eating

By: Karla Castillo and TAMU Health Science Center Email
By: Karla Castillo and TAMU Health Science Center Email

Chances are you will attend at least one holiday party between now and the new year.

This time of year typically includes many feasts.

Brenda Bustillos, a registered dietician and doctoral student with the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, was
on First News at Four Tuesday.

She shared tips on finding a balance between tasty treats and healthy foods this season and throughout the year.

Here are some of those tips:

1. Don’t skip other meals.

While it may seem like you’re saving room, skipping meals (especially breakfast) causes you to enter starvation mode and can lead to overeating. Eat healthy foods and snacks that are high in fluid and fiber, like oranges and oatmeal, to help curb your appetite.

2. Control portion sizes.

“Most meals are served buffet-style, which can mean large portion sizes,” Bustillos said. “Avoid getting large servings of sides since you’ll likely graze on food all day, and those calories can add up quickly.”

If you want something that is high in calories, like pecan pie, don’t avoid eating it. Share with a friend or cut a smaller piece. You can also overcome portion distortion by eating on smaller plates.

3. Keep food at appropriate temperatures.

Daylong “grazing” is also very dangerous in terms of food safety. Make sure that refrigerated food stays cold and meats remain at a safe temperature. Otherwise your guests could end their holiday weekend with food poisoning.

4. Taste the rainbow.

The more colored food that is on your plate, the more nutrients and antioxidants you consume. If you’re planning a meal, substitute foods like mashed potatoes for colored foods like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and baked yams. Make a homemade cranberry sauce with fresh ingredients to avoid added sugar.

5. Mix healthy foods with tastier options.

“We eat the fats, sugar and salt because they taste good. If you or your children have difficulty making healthier food choices, try mixing foods that are lighter and leaner with foods toppings or additions that you enjoy,” Bustillos said.

For example, mix lean white turkey meat with dark turkey meat that has a higher fat content. If you don’t like vegetables, add a sauce side of your favorite dressing or cheese, in moderation, to make it taste better.

6. Get active.

After the meal, go outside and get active with your family instead of lounging around. You can play a pickup game of football or go for a walk, as long as you get moving and mobile.

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