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Holiday Meals With a Calorie-Conscious Twist

Swapping out heavy ingredients can mean healthier eating without the guilt, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A few healthy substitutions in your Thanksgiving recipes can help reduce the calorie content of your food without sacrificing the taste, says the American Medical Association.

"Thanksgiving isn't usually a calorie-conscious holiday, but by swapping out a few ingredients with healthier alternatives, you can really help reduce calorie and fat intake while keeping great flavor," Dr. J. James Rohack, AMA president-elect, said in a news release.

As part of its "Healthier Life Steps" campaign, the AMA offers the following healthful holiday cooking tips:

  • Use fat-free and low-sodium broths in soups and stews.
  • Replace the sour cream in dips with low-fat or nonfat sour cream or yogurt.
  • Add a green vegetable to every meal, such as broccoli in your omelet, spinach on your sandwich, and green beans on your dinner plate. It's a good way to add extra vitamins to your diet.

The AMA also offers some advice on how to avoid putting on extra pounds when you attend holiday get-togethers:

  • Don't hang around the appetizers. Doing so makes it too easy to mindlessly eat while chatting with friends.
  • Limit your desserts. Take just a taste instead of a full serving.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcoholic beverages are full of sugar and empty calories, and drinking may lower your inhibitions and lead you to eat foods you otherwise wouldn't consume.
  • Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables, instead of fried foods and creamy dips.
  • Get out for walks.

"Thanksgiving is the gateway to the holiday season, when many people ingest lots of calories in food and beverages and don't get enough physical activity to burn those extra calories," Rohack said. "By making a plan early to maintain healthy lifestyle throughout the season, you can enjoy yourself without having to pay for it in the new year."

More information

Holiday food safety is another important issue. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers these food safety tips.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Medical Association, news release, Nov. 13, 2008

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