The holidays are a time when many people indulge in delicious, calorie-packed food. But enjoying traditional holiday foods doesn’t necessarily mean ditching your diet.
ABC7 News in Los Angeles spoke to some experts on how to enjoy all of your favorite holiday dishes without packing on the pounds — and guilt.
Weight loss specialist Dr. Adrienne Youdim says it’s totally possible to enjoy holiday food without overdoing it.
“It may seem a little counter-intuitive, but I recommend people make a high protein shake right before you head out the door. The protein signals to the brain fullness,” Youdim told ABC7.
Youdim recommends making a whey protein shake with fresh veggies to help curb those hunger pangs. If you make sure not to add too many extras to the shake, it’s typically about 150 calories and 17 grams of protein — a great tool to help you control portion size during those big family holiday meals.
“If you’re starving, then there’s really no room for portion control and good decision making,” Youdim said.
Heart surgeon Dr. Steven Gundry has a different approach — he recommends focusing on using quality ingredients to make the holiday meal. For example, grass-fed organic poultry is always a good option, Gundry explained.
A holiday meal is hardly complete without some delicious, carb-ridden stuffing. Gundry says to skip the white bread and try using millet, a nutty-tasting grain. However, traditional herbs and spices, mixed with some good quality olive oil is still a great, healthy addition to the stuffing.
“I’ve been a huge proponent of good fats long before fat was back in,” Gundry told ABC7.
Some veggie side dishes are a hidden waistline buster, like green bean casserole. Swap them out with some brussels sprouts mixed with sesame oil and nuts, like walnuts or hazelnuts, Gundry explained.
Instead of using traditional white flour for the gravy, try coconut flour, white wine and heavy cream. It has less carbs and sugar, while the heavy cream from grass-fed cows is a great source of fat.
“Coconut flour will thicken exactly like flour. In fact, you actually need less to thicken because it absorbs so much water,” Gundry said.
Quality ingredients may be just as important as portion control. Youdim says to make sure your plate has a quarter portion of protein, a quarter portion of starch and then fill the rest of your dish with veggies.
Before digging into that warm aromatic apple pie or cake, drink a hot beverage to help savor the delicious meal you just had. It will help slow you down, Youdim said.
“It takes food about 20 minutes to get to the gut and probably another 10 minutes before starts signalling those hormones that you’re full,” Youdim said.
Interested in making some of Gundry’s delicious yet healthy holiday food? Check out his blog for more recipes.
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.