Eat Healthy This Holiday

By on November 1, 2014

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By Jennifer Kelly Geddes for Discover and Play

As turkey day approaches, it’s hard to eat healthy with creamy pies, casseroles and gravy crowding the menu. Cocktail parties can also trip up a calorie counter (hello pigs in a blanket!), but with the right list of ‘yes’ foods, you can cruise the buffet and bar with confidence. Here’s what you need to know to eat healthy this holiday season:

Drinks count! You may not notice the liquid calories you’re consuming because cocktails don’t fill you up as quickly as food can, but alcohol definitely adds to the waistline, so order wisely. For example, sparkling wine has about 90 calories per glass, while a sugary margarita has 190, says Eileen Behan, registered dietitian and author of For The Love of Food the Diet That Works.

Dip disasters Potato chips are fatty enough without dunking them in a sour cream or mayo-laced dip. Instead, choose salsa or guacamole. Salsa is packed with fiber and vitamins A and C, thanks to the tomatoes and peppers, and avocados contain heart-healthy fat. If you can, skip the chips and dip with carrot sticks, celery or slices of fennel. (After all, only five tortilla chips are equal to one slice of bread!).

Sneaky seafood Shrimp is rich in protein and has virtually no fat, but watch the preparation. Cooked plainly (poached or boiled), with a little cocktail sauce or lemon and horseradish on the side is much better than deep-fried crustaceans coated with coconut batter.

Meet the meat Simple skewers of chicken teriyaki or beef are better picks than anything wrapped in bacon or those classic mini franks in puff pastry. Try to avoid foods smothered in golden pastry, including spring rolls, fried dumplings, samosas and mini quiches.

Sushi-a-go-go This hors d’oeuvre gets the green light: most sushi rolls are low in fat and contain plain fish or veggies like avocado, cucumbers and carrots. If there’s a choice, brown rice has more fiber than white; avoid anything ‘crispy’, and rolls made with cream cheese or spicy sauce (which is just a fancy way of saying ‘mayonnaise’).

Eat before If your stomach is growling, you’ll be more likely to gorge on everything you see. Instead, have a light snack (yogurt, fruit, toast with peanut butter) before you get to the party, and then carefully survey the food. Choose only the most appealing and special items, like a homemade dessert over brownies from a boxed mix.

Jennifer Kelly Geddesis a New York-based writer and editor who has written for Parenting, iVillage.com and Time Out New York Kids. She frequently contributes to Go Vibrant.

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Eat Healthy This Holiday