Healthy Holiday Eating

Sheila Storbakken
Sheila StorbakkenRD
Registered Dietitian

Healthy Living:
Healthy Holiday Eating

Free Class

November 14, 2023

By Sheila Storbakken, RD, of Osceola Regional Health Center

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration and togetherness, filled with festive gatherings, delicious meals and sweet treats. With all the holiday parties, pot lucks, church events, business open houses, work celebrations, cookie exchanges; by January 2, most people are ready to begin anew and return to healthy eating.  But what if you make a few changes for this holiday season so that you are not among the over-fed and fed-up on January 2?

People have different thoughts on eating at the holidays…

  1. Eat whatever I want and enjoy!
  2. Enjoy what I eat in moderation, but try to make easy changes to limit calories, sugar, fat and carbohydrate.

Why make the effort to make nutritious changes in recipes and foods offered at the holidays?

Many people, especially our family, have medical conditions in which wholesome food choices are very important to help them maintain their health. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and being overweight are all genetic diseases that can impact an entire family… grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and children. We all share the same genetics. If one member is eating healthy for a certain disease, others may be trying to do the same. I encourage you to share with your family and friends that you are trying to eat healthier and you may find that they are too!

Some people ask the question, “But won’t my guests be upset if I make changes to traditional family recipes?”  Maybe not…Maybe they will be grateful for the changes?

Tips to prepare healthier meals:

  1. Reduce the amount of sugar added to recipes by almost 1/3. The recipe will still turn out fine.
  2. Use fruit to sweeten baked goods, salads, salsa, etc. There are many recipes available that use applesauce, dates and bananas as natural sweeteners.
  3. Make vegetables the center of the plate by serving a variety of vegetables that are roasted, fresh, pickled, in salads. There are many more vegetable choices than just corn and peas!
  4. Serve smaller portions of desserts…bite-size desserts are very popular. Most of us only need three bites of a dessert to be satisfied.

Healthy habits to help prevent the holiday over indulgence:

  1. Survey the buffet before putting any food on your plate. Go ahead and include a few of your favorite treats, but try to only take items that you rarely have the opportunity to eat.
  2. Practice moderation, not deprivation. Stick to small portions.
  3. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly and try to take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal or hors d’oeuvres.
  4. Wait 15-20 minutes after eating to see if you really want seconds. Use this break to catch up on family news!  Remember it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full.
  5. Get up and move after the meal. Invite everyone outside for a walk, game of football or even just a competitive game of ping pong … whatever works for that particular time and location.  Activity within an hour after eating will help modulate your blood glucose rise after the meal.
  6. Set realistic simple goals. Strive for small changes that will add up!

For more healthy living tips and recipes, please attend our free class! Healthy Living: Healthy Holiday Eating will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 5:00pm in the Multi-purpose room at Osceola Regional Health Center. Please pre-register by calling Sheila Storbakken at 712-754-5344 or e-mail Sheila at