Guilt-Free Guide to Holiday Meals

Friday, December 8, 2017

The holidays come once a year and most of the traditional holiday foods are a once a year treat. Don’t feel guilty about the annual indulgence. Many of my holiday memories involve food; brunch at grandma’s house, my grandpa’s famous dressing, making Christmas candy with my mom. Here is how you can savor the flavors of the holiday, make the memories, keep the family traditions, and not gain weight.

Holiday Dinner Blog

Make small adjustments:
Eat your turkey without the skin, leave the whip cream off your pumpkin pie, and pick the fresh vegetables over the creamed corn and green bean casserole and you can save calories without even noticing. A drizzle of gravy over your potatoes will give you flavor without having to drown your whole plate in it.

Plan your day:
If you are looking forward to splurging on the big holiday meal, make sure you haven’t blown your calorie budget before you arrive. Don’t skip meals but rather eat low-calorie meals or snacks before. Going into the holiday meal ravenous could lead to over indulgence. Get some exercise and burn some calories, you will be rewarded.

Be mindful:
Just eat. Turn off the football game and pay attention to your food, otherwise you might look down at half-time and find an empty plate, a full stomach and no memories. Slow down, savor every bite and be mindful of your body’s signals that you are full.

Prepare healthier versions of traditional recipes:
That green bean casserole I mentioned, I’m not giving that up but I can make a healthier version to cut calories and fat by using less cream soup and fried onions. Use skim milk instead of heavy cream in your mashed potatoes. I’m not messing with grandpa’s dressing but you can lighten up yours by using less bread and meat and more vegetables like onions and celery or by adding fruit such as apples or cranberries.

Pick one:
If you’ve got a favorite, that one thing you love, go ahead and load your plate. Just make sure the rest of your plate is loaded with fruit and vegetables.

Be “That Guy”:
I am “that guy” you know, the one who brings quinoa salad to Thanksgiving. I watch my family stare at it with disgust, then politely ask what it is. Not to hurt my feelings everyone puts a teaspoon size serving on their plate and gives it a try. The result is a win/win. I had a healthy option to eat and I’ve got some new quinoa fans in the family. 


Nancy Kiehnau Greater Green Bay YMCA 
Certified Personal Trainer & Wellness Coach