Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, November 22, 2013

Four Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Friday, November 22, 2013 | 10:22 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments
The holiday season is right around the corner which means lots of celebrating with parties and gatherings accompanied by much to eat and drink, not all being "healthy." First up is Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks, centered around a huge feast. So how do we keep it happy and healthy without weight gain during this joyous season of eating? Here are a few tips on how to have your feast and eat it too without the weight gain.

Think About Portion Control
Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs when we look at the Thanksgiving spread in front of us. It is important to consume proper portion sizes of our favorite holiday foods versus stacking our plates high with everything. Keep these visual markers in mind as you fill your plate to make sure you’re not over consuming.
  • 1 serving of turkey is 3 oz, about the same size as a deck of playing cards
  • A serving of gravy is 1/4 of a cup, about the size of a golf ball
  • A serving of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes is 1/2 cup, about the size of a tennis ball cut in half or a rounded handful
  • A serving of cranberry sauce is about 1/4 of a cup, about the size of a golf ball
  • A serving of stuffing is a 1/2 cup, about the size of an ice cream scoop or a tennis ball cut in half
  • Want butter on your Thanksgiving roll? A serving is a teaspoon, about the size of a single die
  • A serving of raw vegetables is 1 cup, about the size of a baseball
  • A serving of cooked vegetables is 1/2 cup, about the size of a rounded handful
  • Crackers and cheese before dinner? A serving of cheese is 1 ounce for most cheeses, about the size of two dice
  • A serving of pumpkin pie is usually 1/8 of a 9 inch pie, about the size of a standard light bulb
Also try to avoid over-eating during the appetizer round. This part of the meal does not usually stop people from eating just as much during the main course. If you find yourself hungry during this first round or would like to try some of these appetizers, do just that...TRY some of them, but do not chow down because they are bite sized.

Plan What and How You Will Eat
Start filling your plate with vegetables first. There is a lot to choose from in a holiday spread, especially at Thanksgiving. To avoid overloading your plate, start with veggies first making these healthy, nutrient packed fibrous treats the majority of your plate. This way you will be filling up on something healthy and nutrient dense before stuffing yourself with items that are more fatty and lacking in vitamins and minerals.

So much to eat in so little time! Avoid over eating by taking it slow. Take your time, chew every bite, give your brain a chance to register, telling you when you are full. When you feel full, stop eating. You can always set aside some food to have later or another day. Leftovers are a good thing!

Take the skin off your turkey. The skin may be moist, loaded with seasoning and super delicious, but it is also loaded to the max with fat. Eat the meat without the skin for a leaner holiday meal.

Don't Overdo It on Desserts
Desserts and other high fat sweets are always a huge part of holiday celebrations. No need to deprive yourself of your favorite treat but when eating a dessert choose just one. If you are torn between two different items, take a small piece of each. To further cut down on the calories from fat, avoid adding things like whipped cream or sugary sauces on top; stick with just the plain dessert.

Don't Rely on Store-Bought Menu Items
Make your holiday foods from scratch using fresh ingredients and whole foods. This way you can avoid consuming an abundance of over-processed foods, foods high in calories, sugars, fats etc. It is always best to know what you are putting into your body and have some control over the ingredients, preparation and cooking.

Try making your own raw cranberry sauce! This cuts down on the amount of sugars and processed ingredients you will be putting into your body this holiday season. Below is a super simple, yet tasty, recipe to try out this year!

Raw Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 cup pitted dates, packed
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, about 4 cups
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  1. Place dates in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Let sit 30 minutes to soften.
  2. Drain dates and place into a food processor, adding cranberries and orange juice. Process until evenly chopped.
  3. Chill until ready to serve!


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