Charlyn Fargo Ware: Healthy Strategies To Help You Survive Holiday Calories | Your health

Some will say that the words “healthy” and “vacation” do not belong to the same sentence. I do not agree. While the holidays may be more tempting to overeat, it doesn’t have to sabotage our efforts to eat healthy foods.

Turkey, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and green beans are all part of a healthy diet. The key is to eat all holiday foods in moderation.

It’s true that an average holiday meal can contain over 1,750 calories per plate, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It adds up quickly: one serving of pumpkin pie has 350 calories; a 1-cup serving of mashed potatoes contains 257 calories; half a cup of cranberry sauce is equal to 220 calories; 1 cup serving of stuffing, 350 calories; an 8-ounce serving of turkey contains 480 calories; and a 6-ounce glass of wine, 120 calories.

Here are some strategies to avoid overeating:

When you arrive, don’t go straight to the food. Constant snacking and grazing can cause you to consume a lot of calories before you even get to a meal.

Just grab a plate – forget to go back for a few seconds. Another day a full plate satisfies, and it will be Thanksgiving, too much.

»How to reduce calories? Remove the skin from the turkey and eat the white meat. Whip your mashed potatoes with skimmed milk and roasted garlic. Instead of the traditional green bean casserole, enjoy fresh, steamed green beans garnished with flaked almonds. Bake your stuffing in the oven with sautéed onions and celery. Use whole cranberry sauce instead of jelly. Choose whole wheat buns that are high in fiber and cut this pumpkin pie into 10 pieces instead of eight.

»Look for low-calorie recipes – bring a platter of vegetables or fruit if you can and flavor your sweet potatoes with apple juice and a pinch of cinnamon.

»Take a walk after eating; it helps digestion.

” To drink a lot of water.

Questions and answers

Question: I am looking for a fiber supplement. Is psyllium or wheat bran better?

A: Boosting fiber is an important goal. Fiber is found naturally in many plants, including legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

The two most common fiber supplements are psyllium and wheat bran, and each contains a different type of fiber. Psyllium, derived from the seeds of an herb, is a soluble fiber like the fiber in oats and beans. Psyllium forms a gel with water in the intestine, which makes it easier to pass stool. It is useful against constipation and diarrhea.

Soluble fiber also slows digestion, nourishes gut microbes, and helps lower cholesterol. Wheat bran, the outer layer of the wheat kernel, is an insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, which can facilitate movement through the colon and help prevent constipation.

All fiber is useful and important for a healthy diet.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole with Bourbon Pecans

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. If you’re hosting the big event, you might be rushing for one more recipe to complete it. Here’s one I recommend – a variation on the usual sweet potatoes you can make in the slow cooker. It’s from Eat well magazine.


»4 pounds of sweet potatoes

»Zest and juice of 1 orange

»3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

»3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided

»1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

»1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

»¾ teaspoon salt, divided

»½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided

»¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

»1 cup chopped pecans

»1 tablespoon of bourbon

»¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste


Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into ¼ inch thick slices. Place in 6 quart or larger slow cooker. Add the orange zest and orange juice; 2 tablespoons of butter and brown sugar; vanilla, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 3 hours on high power or 6.5 hours on low.

Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until it foams. Add the pecans, bourbon, cayenne pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from fire.

Transfer the sweet potatoes to a serving dish, if desired, and sprinkle with the pecans.


Makes 14 ½ cup servings

Per serving: 175 calories; 2 grams of protein; 24 grams of carbohydrates; 8 grams of fat (2 grams of saturated fat), 7 milligrams of cholesterol; 8 grams of total sugars (3 grams added); 4 grams of fiber; 177 milligrams of sodium

– Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois. Contact her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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