12 Healthy Tips For The 12 Days Of Christmas – 2

Today is part two of four of our series of posts on how to stay healthy during the holidays. If you missed part one, you can get caught up here.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my dietitian said to me…

Drinks are not as harmless as you think.

Drinks may seem like a way to limit your caloric intake because you are not eating, but that is not the case. Alcohol contains calories and those calories add up quickly after a couple of drinks. If you are trying to watch your caloric intake it would be best to stick to non-alcoholic drinks. However if you are going to partake in alcoholic beverages, it would be beneficial to switch to lighter alcoholic beverages like light beers or wine spritzers. It’s also a good idea to drink a glass of water in between your drinks. This helps keep your caloric intake down, since water has no calories, and it helps keep you hydrated so you avoid a hangover the next morning. A popular drink around the holidays is eggnog, but a mere 4 ounces is about 150 calories. Here is a recipe to help keep the calories down while still enjoying a holiday favorite:

Recipe: ‘Skinny’ Eggnog

1-cup skim milk

1/4 tsp. rum extract

Dash of ground cinnamon

Dash of ground nutmeg

Sugar substitute to taste

Pour ice-cold milk into a lidded container and shake vigorously. Add rum extract and sugar substitute and shake again. Pour into a tall glass, sprinkle with spices and add low-fat whipped topping, if desired.

One 8-oz. serving, 86 calories

On the fifth day of Christmas, my dietitian said to me…

Stop eating when you’re full!

At holiday meals, people have a tendency to keep eating just because the food is there. This is one of the reasons why people tend to gain weight over the holiday season. When eating dinner, try to savor the foods you are eating instead of just shoveling in bite after bite. If you eat slower, your body will be able to better recognize when you are full. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is satisfied. After eating dinner wait a while before going back for seconds. Let your body have time to decide if it really is still hungry or if your brain is just telling you to eat because food is available. If after waiting a while you are still hungry then have another small portion or two of your favorite dishes, or have a slice of your favorite dessert. The holiday food is there for you to enjoy, not to stuff you to the brim.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my dietitian said to me…

What sides are you going to eat?

When it comes to the holidays everyone wants to indulge in their favorite comfort food.  Usually this is a side dish such as macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes. While these foods may provide comfort, they also provide a lot of calories and fat. Even though it’s ok to indulge every once and a while, there are easy ways to make your favorite dish healthier. Here are some substitutions you can use in your recipes this holiday season:

Recipe calls for:Substitution:
1 whole egg2 egg whites
Sour creamLow fat plain yogurt or low fat sour cream
MilkSkim or 1%
Heavy cream (not for whipping)2 tablespoons flour whisked into 2 cups non fat milk
CheeseLow-fat cheese (non-fat cheese does not melt well if use in cooking or baking)

Here is a healthy version of Macaroni and Cheese:

Recipe: Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower

12 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni

1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped

4 slices multigrain bread, torn

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and black pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups grated low fat extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)

1 1/2 cups non fat yogurt or sour cream

1/2 cup skim milk or 1%

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Directions

Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time; drain.

Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; pulse to combine.

Return the pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

Mix in the pasta and cauliflower and the cheese, yogurt, milk, and mustard.

Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.