By now, you are probably quite busy with community or family gatherings. The dinner is cooking (or you already have plans for eating out), and Christmas wrapping and gifts are scattered all over the living room.
For me, the prime rib is in the oven. The shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, cookies and pie are waiting in the background. The dogs are confusing popcorn balls with tennis balls, and the family is happy and healthy. Yes, it has been a good year and looks like the makings of a good 2015.
As you prepare your traditional foods, you may want to consider modifying your ingredient choices for health reasons. Perhaps you can enjoy your favorite treats in moderation with a few tweaks to make them healthier.
At this elevation, and depending on the recipe, you typically can decrease the amount of fat (by a third) and sugar (by a third to a half) without changing overall taste and quality.
For example, a sweet potato casserole calls for nuts, cream, whole milk, butter and marshmallows. Try cutting the butter in half and swapping the cream and whole milk for 1 percent milk. Marshmallows can be cut by 25 to 30 percent. You don’t need to reduce the nuts, because they are a healthy ingredient. The richness of the casserole will be preserved and enjoyed.
Many of us have to avoid specific foods because of diabetes, heart concerns, allergies or gluten sensitivity. But with company potlucks and visits with family and friends, it’s hard to resist the temptation of holiday treats. On average, people gain 1 pound during the holidays.
Perhaps you can find ways to prioritize your favorite foods so you can eat what you really want rather than whatever passes in front of you. Enjoy your food, but using tight portion control will help. Try eating very small portions of a variety of foods mixed with small portions of healthy options.
But, if you’re devoting too much brainpower to deciding what foods you need to avoid, you might miss the cheery social connections that actually improve your health.
The trick to eating well during the holidays is eating well all year. By the time the holidays roll around, you’ll be enjoying healthy food and feeling good. Focusing on eating wholesome foods in sensible combinations every day can prevent overindulgence at this time of year. Also, try turning your focus away from food and to the many other activities of the holiday season. Food and guilt do not need to be the center of your attention.
Whatever your traditions, I sincerely hope you enjoy the holidays in your own happy way. My sincere best to each of you and many memories.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.