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3 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenDecember 14, 2015

The holidays are synonymous with an abundance of rich foods and overindulgence. Finding the right balance of comfort food, decadent desserts and healthy recipes for every family member’s palette can be a challenge; especially for caregivers balancing meals for seniors and other family members.

November 1 through the New Year suggests “holiday mode,” often accompanied by overeating and stress — especially for the caregiver trying to accommodate so many people. But finding the balance of joy and healthy habits is also a possibility during the holidays.

Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

Most people are unaware that we lose our taste buds as we age. It becomes harder to taste spices and the elements of the foods that we recognize, which can make eating less enjoyable — and even become a chore.

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As this happens, foods may begin to lose their appeal, which is why many people tend to lose their appetites. So on top of dietary restrictions that go with medical conditions, it’s more difficult for seniors to satisfy their taste buds with the foods they once loved and get the recommended healthy caloric intake they need to thrive.

This can be especially challenging for caregivers who are cooking for every family member and try to balance healthy cooking with tasty meals.

The good news? There are ways to awaken everyone’s taste buds without loading dishes with sugar, salt and fat. Here are a few nutrition and healthy eating tips to make your family’s favorite holiday recipes healthier, according to A Place for Mom’s nutrition experts:

  1. Provide a ‘touch’ of sweetness with natural spices and ingredients. Reducing sugar by half of what the regular recipe calls for and supplementing the sweetness with citrus, vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg — whatever works best with the recipe — is a an effective healthy, yet tasty, cooking best practice. Even honey and molasses can be used to add a touch of healthier sweetness to a favorite dessert or holiday beverage. And fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit is a great way to add a little natural sweetness, not to mention, presentation appeal.
  2. Substitute the fat with healthy alternatives. When baking, unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas and prune puree can make a surprisingly delightful substitute for fatty ingredients; just substitute half the fat with the desired substitute. Instead of using whole milk, use skim milk in dessert and drink recipes. There’s even a healthy alternative for gravy. Heat fat-free, low-sodium broth— or drippings with the fat removed — and slowly add a concoction of mixed flour and cold skim milk to the broth until desired thickness is achieved. Season to your family’s liking.
  3. Slash the salt with lower-sodium options. Substitute salt with fresh herbs and flavored vinegars. When it comes to sodium-heavy condiments, such as mustard, pickles and ketchup, try fresh tomatoes, salsas or cucumber slices. Sometimes even lower-sodium versions of condiments are available — you just have to be diligent about checking the nutrition label when shopping.

Delicious and healthy don’t need to be oxymorons — the two can actually compliment one another, as described above.

Do you have any tips for healthy holiday eating? Any great recipe suggestions? If so, we’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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Dana Larsen
Dana Larsen
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