• By Dana Sparks

Enjoyable Eating During the Holidays

November 26, 2014

festive holiday meal on the tableLA CROSSE, Wis. -  Many people look forward to eating turkey and stuffing, potatoes and gravy, buttered beans, fruitcake, cookies, nuts, and pie throughout the holiday season. But excessive culinary celebrating creates the perfect recipe for dietary disaster and it can be very tempting to disregard healthy eating habits. According to MayoClinic.org the average American gains 5 pounds of weight between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. It is no wonder losing weight is the most popular New Year’s resolution.

Registered dietitian Paula Przywojski at Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare says that by making simple changes, holiday meals can be less costly on the waist, while staying healthy. "Most holiday meals are not bad for you if they are prepared properly," says Przywojski. "The trouble arises when fat and sugar are added. For example, including large amounts of sugar, butter and gravy in recipes negates many of the benefits of healthy foods like squash, potatoes, and meat. It also makes it more difficult to enjoy these foods' natural flavors."

Przywojski recommends these tips for holiday eating:

  • Cut away all visible fat from meat before cooking
  • Roast poultry on a rack so fat can drip away, remove skin before eating
  • Remove fat from homemade soup: cool soups in the refrigerator; skim off the fat that rises to the surface
  • Make sauce with fat free broth, tomato juice or skim milk, thickened with flour
  • Use whole grain bread for stuffing
  • Substitute skim milk for whole milk or cream in desert recipes
  • Decrease sugar in recipes by 1/4 cup

"The most important thing is to maintain a positive attitude and feel good about your self-control," Przywojski says. "Don't succumb to feeling sorry for yourself; feel sorry for those who aren't paying attention to their diets. “

Plan Ahead/ Think First:

  • Take the edge off your appetite before you go by eating a couple crackers
  • Set a goal for eating before you sit down
  • Limit portion sizes: enjoy smaller servings
  • Sit away from the food
  • Concentrate on social conversation
  • Don't give up the family favorites, but enjoy them in moderation
  • Stay active over the holidays: take a walk and enjoy the winter wonderland

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Mayo Clinic Health System consists of Mayo-owned clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in 70 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.About the Franciscan Healthcare History

The La Crosse based Franciscan Healthcare is a joint collaboration between Mayo Clinic Health System and co-sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA).  The relationship first formed in 1995 when Franciscan Skemp Healthcare became part of the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Health System.  The FSPA built St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse back in 1883.  Skemp Clinic was later founded in 1923 by Dr. Archibald Skemp.   

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