(NC) - Not only do the holidays bring together family and friends, but also an incredible selection of festive food. Healthy eating is all about enjoying great tasting food, and making small but realistic changes to your diet. Whether you've been a heart healthy eater all year long, or are just starting to make changes to your diet now, Becel (www.becel.ca) shares 10 easy ways to healthy up your holidays.
Enjoy the special foods and flavours of the season, but do keep an eye on portion sizes. If you find it difficult to pass up the pumpkin pie or your mom's shortbread, then limit the amount you eat.
Be picky with your appetizers. A couple of cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce, veggies with roasted red pepper dip, or smoked salmon pinwheels are all heart healthier choices than fatty, deep fried spring rolls, liver pāte or phyllo-wrapped pastries.
Start filling your plate first with plenty of colourful vegetables like asparagus, sweet potatoes, green beans and glazed carrots. Not only will this boost your intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, but it will also leave less space on your plate for higher-fat choices.
Be on the lookout for dishes with hidden fat. For example, both meat and vegetarian lasagnas are often made with a couple of types of cheese that can add up to more saturated fat and calories than you want. Mashed potatoes are often made with sour cream as well as butter. Instead, have a slice of lean turkey with cranberry sauce, baked ham with fresh pineapple slices, or lean roast beef with horseradish. Pick a plain baked potato and add a small amount of non-hydrogenated margarine or low-fat sour cream on the side.
Grab a handful of nuts. Peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds all contain the praised monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which play a role in promoting heart health.
Going for seconds? Head straight for the leafy greens and vegetable side dishes. These higher-fibre foods help to fill you up, plus you'll be that much closer to getting the daily recommended five to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit.
Pick whole grain choices such as whole wheat buns, brown rice, and bulgur salads. When you eat whole grains, you're getting the health and nutritional benefits of all three parts of the grain.
Be smart about drinking. If you enjoy alcoholic beverages like wine or beer, a glass or two is fine. After that, try sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime, 100% fruit juice, or even diet soda pop. Skip the eggnog, which scores low on nutrition and can contain more than 350 calories and 20 grams of fat in just one glass.
End on a high-fibre note. Enjoy a light or elegant fruit-based dessert. A platter of fresh fruit is always a refreshing treat any time of year.
Remember that good nutrition and regular physical activity go hand-in-hand for a heart healthy lifestyle. After your hearty meal, head outdoors for an invigorating walk or family skate.