I love holiday parties and gatherings. Many foods served, however, are high in calories, saturated fat, and added sugar. Avoid the holiday guilt that often accompanies overindulgence with these simple tips.
- Limit added sugar. Did you know that even occasional intake of large amounts of sugar can lead to big swings in your blood sugar and contribute to overeating? Apple cider, punch, and alcoholic drinks can pack extra calories, not to mention a hefty dose of sugar. Choose a healthier option, like this Holiday Milk Punch, which can be sweetened with a no-calorie sweetener rather than sugar. When it comes to desserts, limit added sugar by practicing portion control. I serve individual desserts like these Luscious Lemon Tartlets or these Lemon Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Bars with Berry Swirl, which are small, but indulgent.
- Include protein. Protein helps you feel full and satisfied, which prevents overindulging. Eat high-quality protein like lean meats and low-fat dairy products, including low-fat cheese and Greek yogurt. One cup of low-fat milk or yogurt contains 8 to 10 grams of protein, while one ounce of low-fat cheese will give you 6 to 8 grams of protein. Try this Crimson and White Mediterranean Dip full of Christmas color and protein, thanks to the addition of plain Greek yogurt. Serve it with whole-wheat pita crackers for a crowd-pleasing appetizer that will help curb cravings.
- Limit saturated fat. Diets high in saturated fat are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of calories. Avoid fried foods and choose low-fat dairy products. Fat-free and low-fat dairy products provide the same nutrients, but with less fat. For example, traditional spinach dip can be loaded with saturated fat, but this light version of Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip is low in fat and high in protein because it’s made with low-fat plain yogurt and part-skim mozzarella cheese.
Remember, smart food choices can help you enjoy the holidays and start 2018 feeling healthy and happy.