For a Healthy Holiday, Find Your Inner Child

Low-fat eggnog is one way to cut holiday calories.By Cassie Vanderwall

By Cassie Vanderwall

Now that the temperatures have dropped, the leaves have turned, and your winter wardrobe has been unpacked – your mind may already be thinking about all of the wonderful holidays on their way.  Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Christmas, the holiday season brings with it family, fun, and food like Mom’s ham, Grandma’s pecan pie, and Auntie’s famous casserole – just to name a few.

The combination of delicious treats and the social pressure that often comes with holiday celebrations can leave us happy but heavier at the end of the season. At holiday gatherings this season, why not try doing something different — mimic the little ones and be a kid! Try the following tips to relax and have fun while enjoying youthful portions and kiddie cocktails.

  • Enjoy the seasonal fare, but choose to fill up on lower-calorie foods like salad, steamed vegetables and gravy-free turkey. Try to make your portions of the higher-calorie items like mashedpotatoes, stuffing, casserole and desserts kid-sized, or about 1/4 cup.
  • Choose a “mocktail” over a cocktail. Alcohol-laden holiday beverages can add a lot of unwanted calories. Enjoy your favorite drinks with the following modifications:
    • Take out the alcohol by making a kiddie cocktail for all to enjoy
    • Make your own cider with light juices and a variety of warm and spicy seasonings
    • Flavor a glass of low-fat or skim milk with one-part eggnog, or try a lower-calorie soy version of nog
    • Choose sugar-free hot chocolate and top it with sugar-free, fat-free whipped topping instead of marshmallows
  • “Just say no.” Kids are great role models for intuitive eating. Try your best to know when you are getting full, stop eating and just say no to more food. It often helps to move away from the table to keep food out of sight and out of mind.
  • Bundle up and head outside; the winter chill never stops kids from being physically active.  Follow their lead by trekking through, packing, rolling, or shoveling the snow to get a total body work-out! As always, check with your doctor first before engaging in rigorous physical activity.

Dare to be different this year and try the youthful tips above to trim more than the turkey this season!

If you have questions, wish to make an appointment, or speak with a registered dietitian, call (312) 942-5926.

Cassie Vanderwall, MS, RD, LDN, CPT, is a registered dietitian with the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at Rush University Medical Center.

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