Focus on Nutrition > TOPS Ten Ways to Lighten Your Holiday Meal

Focus on Nutrition

TOPS Ten Ways to Lighten Your Holiday Meal

By Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE

Cookie swaps, catered lunches, buffet tables brimming with treats: We celebrate the holidays by sharing food. Don’t let the season be a reason to overdo it, though. Follow these ten tips to keep the season bright—and light:

  1. Fill up first. Have a healthy snack before hitting the holiday party scene. You make wiser choices when you’re not famished.
  2. Go easy at the get-go. Holiday appetizers are calorie minefields. Choose one delectable starter and then stick to shrimp, vegetables and fruit before the main course.
  3. Bring your own. Stressing about what to eat at a holiday gathering? Volunteer to bring your own healthy dish that can double as a host or hostess gift.
  4. Consider cauliflower. Cauliflower can stretch the starchiest of dishes. When planning an appetizer, look for cauliflower mashed potatoes, pizza and torte crusts, and even cookie recipes online.
  5. Swap and save. Substitute low-fat yogurt, milk, cream cheese, mayonnaise, chicken stock and eggnog for high-fat recipe ingredients.
  6. Get a gravy separator. Make your gravy lean and mean. Use a gravy separator to separate juices from fat, saving calories while concentrating flavor.
  7. Do winter fruit desserts. There’s no need for high-fat desserts when winter fruits are in season. Oranges, kiwis and pears are a great finale for healthy holiday meals.
  8. Mingle more and linger less. Make the rounds at holiday meals, try not to hang around the buffet table, and limit second helpings to the healthiest fruit and vegetable dishes.
  9. Put your fork down. It’s a time-tested trick—if you put your fork down between every bite, you’ll eat less and savor more.
  10. Sip smartly. Avoid calorie-laden soft drinks, punches and/or mixers in alcoholic beverages, and take in large glasses of water between drinks.
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