written and photographed by Kim Suddeath
oliday meals are full of quintessential comfort foods like turkey with dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes with gravy. While itâ€™s fine to indulge in your favorites every now and then, having several food-centric gatherings only a few weeks apart can quickly lead to overindulgence and unwanted weight gain. The good news is there are ways to enjoy the holidays without overdoing it on these high-calorie staples. Here are three strategies to help you keep your health in check.
1Serve plant-based proteins
High-fat proteins such as ham, roast beef and bacon are common options during the holidays. Although they are great for special occasions, eating them too frequently is not good for your health because they contain a lot of calories from animal fat. Consider swapping out a high-fat protein with a plant-based protein, such as whole grains; nuts and seeds; or beans and legumes. Consuming plant proteins on a regular basis will do great things for your health and wellbeing. Plant proteins contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants. The Wild Rice-Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe shown on the next page is an example of a delicious, plant-based holiday dish.
2 Cut the sugar
Statistics show Americans consume an average of 75-95 grams of added sugar every day, which is twice the recommended amount. These 300-400 extra calories come from table sugar and other sweeteners such as corn syrup and honey, which, unlike the natural sugars found in whole fruits and vegetables, provide no nutritional benefits. Added sugars are linked to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. Many holiday recipes call for much more sugar than is necessary. Sweet potato casserole, for example, can have up to 1 cup of added sugar. Try decreasing the amount in casseroles and desserts by one-fourth or one-third. More
28 INVITATION | December 2017 / January 2018
often than not, no one will be able to tell a difference. Another idea is to include only one or two sugary foods on your menu: Instead of serving sweet tea, sweet potato casserole and a dessert, remove one or two of those to reduce added-sugar intake.
3Swap out dairy
Holiday dinners usually come with a great
deal of bloat due to excessive amounts of dairy from cheese, butter and milk. To reduce this undesirable symptom, try plant-based options. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of casseroles instead of cheese, make gravies out of unsweetened and unflavored nut milk, or use coconut oil for some or all of the butter in a recipe, like the Butternut Squash and Leek Galette pictured above (recipe at right).