The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 22, 2012

Hit the veggies, cut out cheese


DANVILLE — Thursday’s grand Thanksgiving meal kicked off a 30-plus day of holiday parties, family get-togethers and plenty of less-than-nutritious food items.

From the appetizer trays to the dessert cart, the holiday season is filled with foods that can bring a few pounds with that holiday cheer.

Carol Shriver is the regional clinical nutrition manager for Provena United Samaritans Medical Center and Provena Covenant. She said a lot of our food served during the holidays is higher in fat and calories than what we’re used to.

That said, Shriver contends there is a lot people can do to monitor themselves and their eating between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve — starting with the three R’s: Reduce, Remove and Replace.

Reduce stands for cutting back on the fats — such as butter — and sugar that holiday recipes generally call for.

“If you don’t need the whole stick of butter to make it taste good, don’t add the whole stick,” she said, adding that in a lot of recipes, the butter and sugar can be an unnecessary addition that can be removed.

The third R — replace — takes a little more creativity. But Shriver said there are plenty of healthy alternatives to use in recipes, including low-calorie margarine, Egg Beaters and artificial sweeteners.

She also suggests that people who are asked to bring a dish to an event should make sure it is lower in fat.

That strategy covers the food that comes out of people’s kitchens. But even for catered events, Shriver said there ways to avoid the unhealthy foods.

“A lot of times it comes down to people wanting to enjoy the holidays,” she said. “You just need to watch your portion sizes and eat in moderation.”

One of the biggest traps people fall into, she said, are the meat and cheese trays. Two cubes of cheese alone are 100 calories without adding slices of meat, such as salami, and crackers, which can be high in transfats.

“I’ve seen people completely stack their plate,” Shriver said. “I would go for the fruits and vegetables any time you can.”