by Brooke Baker, WVU Family Nutrition Programs Extension Specialist, and
Sarah Sturgill, Putnam County Extension Agent, WVU Extension Service
Did you know that a slice of pecan pie can contain more than 500 calories? Adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream means this dessert has upwards of 600 calories. Most people need only about 2,000 calories in a day.
Small changes for healthier holiday meals
Remember, healthier substitutions can taste as delicious as old-fashioned foods.
- Make bread crumbs from whole-wheat bread. Just toast, let cool, and spin in the food processor until they reach the desired consistency.
- Preparing a delicious fruit cobbler is an excellent way to use frozen berries or apples. Cobblers can contribute fiber, B vitamins, and minerals if whole-wheat flour and oats are included.
- Make meatballs with better beef. Local grass-fed beef is widely available in West Virginia, and beef from grass-fed cows is lower in total fat, is higher in healthy fats, and contains more antioxidants than other beef.
- When preparing turkey or chicken for your holiday meal, remove the skin before serving. The skin of the bird contains a layer of fat, which can add unwanted calories.
Strategies for eating fewer calories
- Serve smaller portions to yourself and your loved ones to trim down calories. You can decrease your portion size by 20 percent without even noticing the difference.
- Use smaller plates, bowls, glasses, and utensils. This will lead you to eat less without even thinking about it.
- Always have a small snack before leaving for a gathering. This trick is most effective if your snack includes fiber and some protein. Have a banana with peanut butter or an apple and some unsalted almonds.
- Opt for water or unsweetened tea instead of sugar-sweetened drinks like soda or cider. Also, watch out for alcoholic beverages, including
- eggnog. An 8-ounce glass of eggnog contains about 224 calories and more than 10 grams of fat most of them saturated.
- Schedule your holiday meals during normal mealtimes if possible. Holiday celebrations that take place outside of regular mealtimes encourage people to eat more.
- Stay physically active. People who get regular physical activity are more likely to maintain their weight, or even lose weight, over the holidays.
- As an easy way to eat well during the holidays, use the “plate method” for meals. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with starches (like baked potatoes or whole grains), and one-quarter with lean protein.