According to a new survey, 2/3 of people say they overeat during the holidays, with close to half saying they skip exercise
Big meals with traditional foods can be a special part of many holiday gatherings, but they may not always be the healthiest. Here are some strategies to eat healthier when you sit down at the table for your holiday meal.
For many, holiday celebrations are filled with family and food, and while the festivities bring joy, they can also be prime time for unhealthy eating habits.
According to a new survey, two-thirds of people say they overeat during the holidays, with close to half saying they skip exercise.
"All of these foods are what we call 'hyper-palatable,' meaning they taste so good you can't stop eating them," said Dr. Nate Wood. "I like to recommend that people drink water before their meal and throughout the meal, which takes up some room in your stomach. Focus on eating those dishes that have fruits and vegetables because that's fiber, right? Fills you up without filling you up without a lot of calories."
Dr. Wood is both a physician and a chef. He says that trying to eat healthier around the holidays is not just about how much you're eating but also about how these classic holiday foods are prepared. There are ways to make them healthier. Dr. Wood used mashed potatoes as an example.
"So if you mash them and then add a whole bunch of butter, a whole bunch of heavy cream -- probably not the healthiest, right? But instead, what you can do is add a little bit of Greek yogurt, fat-free, which is tangy and creamy but doesn't add all that fat," he suggested.
And you can't have mashed potatoes without gravy.
"Try not to use bouillon or soup base. It's very, very high in salt. Instead, make your own," Dr. Wood said.
When it comes to the age-old debate of ham versus turkey, Dr. Wood says there's a clear and healthy choice.
"This one's actually pretty easy because ham is a cured meat and cured meats have been classified -- at least since 2015 -- as being carcinogenic. These processed meats, right, so they're linked to colon cancer. Turkey, however, is a lean white meat. Don't deep fry it but otherwise, that's probably the healthier option," he said.
Regardless of your recipe, Dr. Wood has this tip.
"The goal is to savor time with family and friends. So chew your food slowly, enjoy family recipes -- whether they're extremely healthy or not. When you're interested in doing so, take some shortcuts and make some substitutions to make your food healthier," he said.