Watching what you eat over the holidays
- Image by ~W~ via Flickr
With the holidays coming up, we may be paying attention to what we eat, but it’s very easy to go over our recommended calorie and food intake. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid gives us outlines on healthy eating habits, but do you understand what that means for the holidays?
Grains: Grains are a good source for carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Whole grains are the best for you because they have the least amount of processing. A great naturally sweet snack is a piece of whole wheat bread with sorghum syrup. It might get a little sticky – if you have this at a gathering don’t forget the hand toilettes!
Fruits: This is where you have to be careful at the holiday parties. You may see a fruit dessert – but that doesn’t mean you can eat all of it! Another popular treat is serving fruit covered in sugar or chocolate. Watch out for what you’re putting on your fruit, most fruits are naturally sweet.
Veggies: The cold months are the best for carrots, beets and broccoli. So when you’re visiting friends and family this season, consider a veggie tray instead of chips. Veggies fill you up without any guilt after you leave the party. And don’t forget that we have a winter Farmers Market in Columbia where you can stock up on fresh produce.
Meat and Beans: This is a fairly broad group that contains meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts. It one of the main ways to get protein in your diet. The USDA recommends eating lean or low-fat cuts of meat to cut down on discretionary calories. If you’re having a holiday party, keep a bowl of unsalted nuts on the table for a simple and healthy snack!
Milk and Dairy: Milk and dairy products are essential for helping build strong bones. The easiest way to get these nutrients is by drinking milk, but eating cheese and yogurt are also great ways to get your dairy servings. You should typically have three servings of dairy each day. A cheese tray is always popular at gatherings and great finger food too!
Oils: “Oils” is another way of saying “fats” in food. These include saturated, unsaturated and trans fats. Saturated and trans fats are the ones to avoid. Oils are mostly used in cooking, for a healthier option, try using olive oil in your holiday recipes.
Discretionary Calories: This is the area for wiggle room in the food pyramid. You can fill up the rest of your daily intake with more of other food groups, foods with higher caloric content, foods with added fats and sweeteners, and foods that are mostly fats. The amount of discretionary calories you have each day depends on your other food intake. This is the important group to watch during the holidays, especially with all the cookies and cakes around!
So whether you’re hosting the party, or are planning on bringing a dish, keep the food pyramid in mind. Do you have any healthy dishes that you enjoy preparing?