Eating healthy around the holidays

Theresa Howard - Extension News

The holiday season is generally a time for celebrating and enjoying the company of friends and family. Unfortunately, it is also a time when people tend to eat more high-fat, high-calorie foods than they normally do. If you have diabetes and eat too much of the wrong foods over the holidays, your blood glucose level might rise higher than the target range. Avoiding the family gathering or office party may not be an option, but some careful thought and planning can go a long way to help you manage your blood glucose and still have a good time.

How do I eat healthfully at parties?

Do not arrive hungry to a party. Have a small snack such as whole-grain crackers and cheese, raw vegetables, fruit, or low-fat yogurt before you go. Some tips include:

• Don’t skip meals during the day to “save” calories and carbs so that you can eat a large holiday meal. If you skip meals, it will be harder to keep your blood glucose under control.

• Practice portion control by using small plates. Place fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods on your plate first.

• Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks.

There are lots of sweets and desserts during the holidays. These foods often contain carbs and fat with few other nutrients. As a result, they can raise your blood glucose quickly and contribute to weight gain. But it is the holiday season, so consider the following options to be able to enjoy your desserts:

• Eat fruit as dessert. They add a sweet taste without adding many calories, and they also are a source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

• Split a dessert with someone.

• Remove high-fat whipped topping and frosting.

• Eat fewer carbs during the main meal so that you can have a small dessert.

You can reduce the amount of sugar in most recipes by 25 percent without much change to the flavor of the product. Try adding cinnamon or vanilla to recipes to give the idea of sweetness.

• Gradually reduce the amount of salt used in cooking.

• Cut the amount of salt in recipes by half.

• Rinse canned vegetables before using or choose low-salt versions.

• Replace solid fats such as butter, lard, stick margarine, and shortening with oils when you are cooking.

• Replace half of the fat or oil in recipes with unsweetened applesauce.

• Use cooking spray in place of oil when cooking.

• Use Canadian bacon or turkey bacon in place of bacon.

• Remove fat from chicken, beef, and other meat.

• Remove the skin from chicken or turkey.

• Choose baked, steamed, or broiled foods rather than fried foods.

You can get more information on healthy eating at the Harlan County Extension office.

Theresa Howard is the Harlan County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

Theresa Howard

Extension News

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