Is Heart-Healthy Holiday Eating Possible?
While celebrating the holiday and eating healthy may seem like a tug of war, there are strategies to help.
Don't think all or nothing. If you had a piece of pie (or two) at Thanksgiving, it's not time to give up on eating healthy. When morning rolls around, get back on track. One piece of pie, one meal or one day of overeating isn't going to reverse everything. Go back to the basics: more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy and whole grains.
Drink plenty of water before the next holiday party, and if it's a potluck, bring something healthy that you can eat.
Portion control allows you to indulge in a piece of fudge and not feel guilty. Life is about enjoying these moments. If red velvet cake is your favorite -- and you only have it this time of year -- have a piece, preferably a small one, and enjoy every bite. Just don't bring the rest of the cake home to eat later.
Be gentle on yourself. If you start the holidays with too strict rules, you're going to break them and disappoint yourself. That strategy often sets you up for excess because you start thinking there's no reason to keep trying.
Focus on some nonfood activities. The idea is to spend time with our loved ones, not just eat together. Take a family walk, go see some holiday decorations, or attend a holiday concert or service.
We all can survive the holidays without the dreaded 5- or 10-pound weight gain. Be intentional about the foods you really want, and leave the rest alone.
Q and A
Q: Is stevia a healthier sweetener?
A: Stevia, as well as all sweeteners on the market, have been declared safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Stevia has been on the market for over 10 years, and no health risks have been proven. The stevia plant is a South American shrub in the aster family, and it has a long history of use as a sweetener. The key to any sugar substitute -- or sugar -- is moderation. Many products that contain stevia, sugar or other sweeteners are nonnutritive foods such as soft drinks, candy and ice cream. So choose sparingly. Make up the bulk of your diet with foods such as whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables.