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Thank you for subscribing to Women's Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle.  To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit www.Avera.org.

To your health,

The Avera Staff


Overindulging during the holidays can be easy at holiday parties and gatherings where there are high-fat, high-calorie foods. However, with a little planning, it is possible to stick to healthy eating habits during the holidays.

Remind yourself that food isn't the reason for the party. Remember that the appetizers and drinks aren't why you're at a gathering - the people are. "Focus on the social aspect of the gathering," recommends Doralynne Jarvis, assistant director of the Nutrition Services Department at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, S.D. "Eat some foods that you like and have a low-calorie beverage, but don't continuously fill up your plate. It's ok to say no. Know what your limits are."

Minimize cravings. If you have a party in the evening, start the day with a high-fiber breakfast, such as old-fashioned oatmeal made with low-fat milk. Add a piece of fruit to your breakfast for even more nutritional benefits. "A good heart-healthy breakfast will help prevent giving in to those cravings during the day," Doralynne says.

Bring a dish. If you're going to a gathering that you know isn't going to have many healthy options, volunteer to bring an entrée, side dish or appetizer that is lower in fat and calories. If that isn't a possibility, eat well earlier in the day and pass on foods at the party that are less healthy.

Modify holiday recipes. If you're not ready to give up traditional holiday foods that aren't the healthiest, try making a few substitutions that will cut down on excessive calories, fat and sodium.

Try using whole-wheat pastry flour in baked goods like cakes, breads and cookies, recommends Doralynne. It may take some experimenting to find what works best for you and your family, but Doralynne suggests a good starting point is to replace half of the white flour in a recipe with the whole-wheat flour. "There is really not that much of a flavor or color difference, and children generally don't notice," she remarks.

Make healthier choices while still getting the flavors you crave. Fresh cranberry relish, for example, has much less sugar than processed cranberry jelly in a can. If pie is a treat you must have during the holidays, choose pumpkin over pecan. Pumpkin is a good source of potassium and fiber, while pecan pie is high in fat and sugar with little nutritional value.

A more adventurous substitution is silken tofu in creamy dips. Silken tofu, which is high in protein, takes on the flavors of the other ingredients while having the same texture as mayonnaise or sour cream.

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In Great Health online archive.