Dieter’s beware: it’s that time again

Mary-Catherine Dolan

It is a known fact that the holidays are synonymous with good, festive food. Who doesn’t revel in sitting down for a holiday dinner of freshly carved turkey, loaded mashed potatoes and warm apple pie? These popular dishes are mouthwatering at the thought, but for those watching their weight, the calorie-laden foods are sometimes not worth their bite.

This holiday season, if you are looking to enjoy all scrumptious tastes of festive foods while still being able to slip into a slinky little black number, look no further than these few healthy holiday food ideas. Dieters beware: the average Thanksgiving dinner can contain almost 2,000 calories. For those who don’t follow the scales, 2,000 calories is the recommended amount for one person in an entire day – not just one meal.

The few things to keep in mind before the big Thanksgiving or Christmas day feast may seem cliché, but they are nonetheless effective. First, regular exercise will speed up your metabolism, and a fast metabolism breaks down fat more efficiently. Implementing some heavier exercises into your routine a week or so before the holiday dinner will allow for more leniencies in your diet. On Thanksgiving and Christmas day, make sure you don’t sit down to the dinner table on an empty stomach, as this will only lead to over consuming. Eat some fruits or nuts, foods that contain filling fiber, an hour or so before the meal so you are less like to gorge when the food is unveiled.

If the holiday meal is a traditional one, there are many ways for dieters to save themselves hundreds of calories. When going for the main entrée, the meat, make sure you keep it skinless. Taking off fried or marinated skin will not only take off calories but cut down on saturated fat and cholesterol. If the meal is buffet style, fill your plate up with mostly vegetables. Healthy and filling, these greens are not only low in fat but good for your body. Drinking water with your meal instead of alcohol and specialty coffees reduce calories so you can indulge in a little dessert later in the night. If you go out to a party, it is easy to talk your way through numerous food items, but you need to be aware of what and how much you are putting into your mouth.

If your diet routine is all about the numbers, there are some healthier options you can switch to when cooking holiday meals or eating them. Sour cream can be supplemented with plain lowfat yogurt or low-fat sour cream in your mashed potatoes and stuffing. For the appetizer, making a broth-based soup can be just as good as a calorie-laden cream and cheese soup. Whole milk can be replaced with skim, butter can be replaced with margarine and the ice cream next to your apple pie could be frozen yogurt. While dark chocolate only has a few less calories than milk chocolate, it has a lot more health-boosting antioxidants, so it is well worth the switch. If you are the chef, chances are your guests will not even notice these small health conscious ingredient changes.

Moderation is the way to go with eating during Christmas and Thanksgiving but remember: this is the time for relaxation, family and celebration. Studies have shown that being too strict or depriving yourself only leads to overeating.

If that piece of apple pie just looks too delectable to turn down this holiday season, reward yourself and indulge. Just remember to get up for a refreshing jog the next day.