Baked parmesan brushetta tomatoes deliver flavorful, healthy fats. (Eating Well Magazine, Meredith Corporation / Used by permission)

Baked parmesan brushetta tomatoes deliver flavorful, healthy fats. (Eating Well Magazine, Meredith Corporation / Used by permission)

Ten healthy strategies for the holidays

Here’s the second of two columns offering strategies to help you stay in control and avoid weight gain through the holiday season. It offers 10 celebration how-tos that will keep maintain the holiday merriment but let you — and your guests — start the New Year with no regrets.

1. Plan your holiday meals and celebrations with low-calorie choices in mind. Serve plenty of vegetables, raw and cooked, to accompany traditional foods. Call ahead and ask the host or hostess what is being planned for food and drink at parties. Bring a healthy dish if there won’t be one when you arrive!

2. Consider calorie-changing swaps that lower saturated fat and calories. Serve lean cuts of meat like pork loin rather than prime rib or crown roast. Build in fish and seafood options like lox or smoked salmon, marinated shrimp, smoked oysters, smoked trout or pickled herring. Chicken skewers and veggie-stuffed mushrooms are also a great, filling choice.

3. Amp up healthy fats to keep satisfaction and nutrition high in the appetizers and nibbles. Offer spiced nuts, air-popped popcorn, homemade party mix, or crostini topped with tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes or bean bruschetta as starters, rather than junk foods like chips with dip or crackers with spreads, cheeses.

4. Design a dessert bar with dessert “bites” that use the mini approach to help keep sweet portions small. Consider fondue using fruits of the season like bananas, citrus, grapes, kiwi or a simple holiday fruit salad instead of decadent desserts.

5. Create dark-green leafy salads using nutrient-rich winter seasonal produce like spinach, chard, kale, beet greens, spring mix, grated cabbage or shaved brussel sprouts. Adding nuts, seeds and seasonal fruit, like pomegranate, satsumas (tangerines), blood oranges, grapes, kiwi or pears will increase fiber, nutrition, texture and flavor.

6. Use high fat-foods sparingly as tools to boost intense flavor. Intensely flavored cheeses allow you to use half the amount in dishes or salads. Just a sprinkle of aged cheese, toasted nuts or seeds adds great flavor and crunch.

7. Stock your purse with chewing gum or breath mints. When you are done eating, pop one in your mouth to keep from going back for seconds or noshing mindlessly.

8. Wear your favorite form-fitting clothes to keep awareness high and connect your eating to how your body feels. This can be a keen reminder to listen to your body’s signals, since the pleasure of eating can override the fullness factor.

9. Weigh yourself every few days to track what is happening so you can change what you are doing. Weight is an objective measurement. Use it as a barometer of how you are doing with your food and activity choices throughout the season.

10. Remember to be present and enjoy the season while staying away from self-depracating thoughts that rob you of the pleasure and the meaning of your holidays.

Kim Larson is a registered dietitian nutritionist, founder of Total Health,, and a spokesperson fortheAcademy of Nutrition &Dietetics.

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