Healthier holiday eating: Salt, sugar and fat are on the naughty list

BHC eating main 1219.jpgLess sugar, less salt and less fat may mean fewer familiar options at the traditional holiday table.

But for people on restricted diets, even a few days of splurges can have serious health consequences.

So how can the holidays still be fun and delicious with dietary restrictions? It takes a little effort and creativity, but everyone will benefit from healthier options.

Here are some basic tips for healthier holiday eating:

  • Pass on everyday offerings (bread and rolls), and savor holiday favorites (a bite of apple strudel, if you’re allowed).
  • Avoid pre-prepared foods such as canned soups and sauces and mass-produced baked goods, which can be sources of surprisingly high levels of sodium and sugar.
  • Focus on fresh foods. Fresh produce, flavorful bakery bread and homemade sauces can all offer more texture and flavor with fewer additives than their canned, mass-produced counterparts.
  • Skip the salt and season foods with rosemary, sage, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, chilies and other spices that add lots of flavor without sugar, salt or fats.
  • Watch out for hidden sodium in desserts, especially store-bought sweets.
  • Peel the skin off that turkey and choose broiled or baked meats over fried.
  • Keep an eye out for any flavors or combinations that cause digestive issues such as heartburn.
  • Choose beans over meat. Beans are a savory, satisfying base for winter comfort foods like soups and stews and bright sides like three-bean salad.
  • They also lend themselves to a wide range of seasonings and world cuisines. Beans, lentils and peas are high in fiber and protein, low in fat.
  • Eat regular, healthy snacks, so you aren't driven by hunger when there are fewer healthy options.
  • Limit or eliminate alcohol consumption.
  • Use smaller plates to help control portion size.
  • If someone declines a food or beverage, it may be for health reasons. Respect their request and don’t pressure them to indulge.

Remember that “just one bite” and “it’s only once a year” still count against your good health if you are on a restricted diet!

If you have any questions about what is and isn't allowed, consult your loved one's doctor, nutritionist, or dietician.

Belvedere Home Care can help your loved one stay on track with healthy meal preparation according to your doctor’s care plan throughout the year. For more information about our flexible home health care programs, call 518-694-9400 or