Heart-Healthy Holiday Dining Tips from the American Heart Association

Heart-Healthy Holiday Dining Tips from the American Heart Association

November 15, 2012 Updated Nov 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) The holiday season is about celebrating with friends, family and. ... food.

According to a news release from the American Heart Association:

All too often, all this celebrating adds a few extra pounds to our waistlines – on average 7 – 9 lbs from Thanksgiving through New Year. A great way to avoid seasonal weight gain is by increasing your physical activity. Things like going for a family walk after each meal or shooting hoops, jumping rope or playing catch are also good family activities.

Making healthier choices when dining can help cut the calories and the weight gain. When the silver serving platter gets passed to you filled with holiday treats, make the right, healthy choices.

Here are some holiday healthy eating tips from the American Heart Association to help guide you through this festive, but high calorie, dining season.

Holiday dinners
Save a turkey – eat a veggie! Start filling your plate with roasted or steamed vegetables, salad, protein and then taste only small amounts of high-calorie/fat items like mashed/creamy potatoes, “candied” dishes and sauces. Unless there are whole grain choices for bread offered, skip the extra, empty calories and the butter you’ll likely smother it with!

Turkey
• Outsmart the bird. Reach for the lighter pieces of meat; they have fewer calories and less fat than the darker ones. Another way to cut calories is to take off the skin.
• Keep portions in check. A serving size of meat is 3 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. So, be conscious of how much you put on your plate, and pass on that second helping. If you’re also having another meat, like ham or lamb, take smaller portions of each.
• Stay off the gravy train. Turkey usually comes with gravy, which can add excess fat, calories and sodium. Limit gravy to a tablespoon, and keep it off other items, like the dressing. Cranberry sauce doesn’t contain as much fat or sodium, but it can be high in sugar, so limit yourself to ¼ cup.

Dressing
• Call it what it is. Dressing is intended to be a complement to your meal, not an entrée. To keep calories and excess fat in check, aim for ¼ cup (or about half a scoop with a serving spoon).
• Judge it by its cover. If the dressing is filled with fatty meats like sausage and pork, looks greasy or buttery, and is made with white bread or sweet rolls, it may be best to pass. Better options would be dressings that look drier and have whole grain or cornbread, lean meat (or no meat), nuts (like almonds or walnuts), and lots of veggies and fruits (celery, grapes, cranberries, carrots, onions, etc.).

Holiday Beverages

Eggnog
• Mix it up. Fill your glass with half to three-quarter parts of low-fat or skim milk, and one part eggnog or try low-fat or soy premade versions.
• Act like a kid. Take out the alcohol. This simple step will reduce the caloric content.
• Cut the fluff. Pass on that big dollop of whipped cream to avoid the extra sugar and fat.

Hot Chocolate
• Skip the heavy stuff. If you order hot chocolate at a restaurant or coffee shop, ask that it be made with low-fat or skim milk, and without the whipped cream.
• Do some research. To make instant hot chocolate at home, look for product packets marked “low-fat” or “low-sugar.” Be sure to add the mix to either low-fat or skim milk, or hot water.
• Go easy on the toppings. Use five to eight mini marshmallows instead of large ones. If using whipped cream, look for low-fat versions and stick to one tablespoon (about a rounded spoonful).

Apple Cider
• Become a fan of labels. When buying cider, check its added sugar content. Many products contain lots of excess sugar, which can increase your calorie intake and cause weight gain.
• Choose low-sugar and sugar-free options and add a variety of spices and flavors (like cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and whole cranberries).

Cocktails and Other Alcoholic Beverages
Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood (triglycerides). It can also lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and a higher calorie intake. Too many empty calories from alcoholic beverages can lead to obesity and a higher risk of developing diabetes.

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A drink is one 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.

• Enjoy mock-tails. Serve nonalcoholic versions of your favorite cocktails to lower the calories. Be sure to check the Nutrition Label, because sometimes alcohol-free products have more added sugar.
• Break it up. To reduce the amount of calorie-laden drinks you consume, drink a glass of water between each beverage or have a half-wine/half-seltzer spritzer. This will help fill your stomach, leaving less room to overindulge.

Desserts
The best way to enjoy a sweet without losing control is by sampling, rather than having full servings. For example, have one bite of pie, half a cookie and one small square of fudge. Find a friend or family member who will stick to the sampling rule with you. Limit sauces and whipped toppings to save even more calories.