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Holiday Feast

For seniors, like everyone else, the holidays can be a great time but also an excuse to overindulge but it’s important to remember to enjoy the abundance of sugary, salty and high-fat foods in moderation.

Seniors, in particular, must pay close attention to their diet especially if they suffer from hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic conditions that could be affected by food choices during holiday celebrations.

Here are some tips to have a festive holiday while staying healthy into the New Year:

  • Make healthy choices. Select from fruit platters and green salads to get plenty of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
  • Add protein. Snack mixes with nuts, dried fruit, and seeds; cheese trays; and lean meats such as turkey are great ways to get much-needed protein at the holidays to support strong muscles.
  • Reduce sugar. You can easily provide a ‘touch’ of sweetness to recipes with natural spices and ingredients. Consider reducing sugar and supplementing sweetness with vanilla, cinnamon or citrus—whatever works best with your recipe. Even honey, molasses, or fresh/frozen fruit can be used to add healthier sweetness to a favorite dessert.
  • Cut the fat. Substitute half the fat in a recipe with healthy alternatives like unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas or prune puree.  Consider replacing whole milk with skim milk.
  • Slash the salt. Choose lower-sodium options and pack your dish with flavorful fresh herbs or flavored vinegar. Consider replacing sodium-heavy condiments, such as mustard and ketchup, with fresh tomatoes, salsas or cucumber slices.
  • Don’t go hungry. Don’t “save up” calories and go to gatherings hungry.
  • Have a plan. Check out all of the options available before you make your plate selections.
  • Sample size. Taste a small amount of a super sweet treat to make sure it tastes as good as it looks before taking a full serving.
  • Eat mindfully. Sit down to eat and focus on enjoying every mouthful!
  • Step away from the table! Socializing away from food may also be helpful.
  • Get moving. Walks are a great way to strengthen your muscles while burning extra holiday calories. A nice walk with family or friends is also a great way to connect.
  • Hydrate. Remember to drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated and avoid extra calories from sugary or alcoholic beverages.

Remember that it’s okay to indulge in holiday celebrations and treat yourself a little.  Most importantly, enjoy yourself this holiday season and look forward to celebrating many more healthy New Years!

If you want to continue the cheer all year long, the congregate meal sites of the Massachusetts Elderly Nutrition Program are a great way to enjoy a healthy variety of delicious meals in good company.  These meal sites are open to anyone age 60 and older. Contact 1-800-Age-Info (1-800-243-4636) for hours and locations or visit  www.800ageinfo.com for information on elder services in your area.

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