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Tips for healthier holiday eating

November 24, 2013
Reinbeck Courier

With Thanksgiving just days away, American families will be preparing for a dinner that includes traditional favorites likes turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing. The dietitians at Grundy County Memorial Hospital understand that holiday meals can present a challenge to those who are working to maintain a healthy weight, control their cholesterol, or are diabetic.

Crystal Petersen, RD LD, advises that a little advance planning can prevent the holiday season from sabotaging your healthy eating plan. She advises these steps for now through the holiday party season:

Plan ahead. Look over the entire buffet and plan what you'd like to eat. This will keep foods off your plate that you may not really want.

Serve yourself so you can control your portion sizes.

Fill your plate with vegetables before choosing entrees and desserts. Eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall.

If you have a choice, choose a small plate. The smaller the plate the less you can eat.

Remember to drink water or another low calorie beverage with your meal.

Eat slowly, savor each bite and put your fork down between bites.

Wait at least 10 minutes after thinking about going back for seconds. Then ask yourself "am I still hungry?."

After the meal, choose a place far away from the food so you won't be tempted.

Dietitian Wendy Brewer, RD LD offers a tasty way to introduce a healthy vegetable into the Thanksgiving meal, with Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes. In addition, Wendy's suggestion for 'Healthy Stuffing' and Crystal's recipe for flavorful gravy that's lower in fat may be found on the hospital's website,

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

1 head cauliflower

1 clove garlic

1 leek, white only, split

in 4 pieces (may s

substitute 1/2 an onion)

1 tablespoon heart

healthy soft-tub


Pepper (to taste)

Break cauliflower into small pieces. In a saucepan, steam cauliflower, garlic and leeks (or onion) in water until completely tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. While cauliflower is hot, place in food processor and puree until the vegetables resemble mashed potatoes, making sure all of the cauliflower is pureed. Process only a small portion at a time if needed. Add a little hot water if the mixture is dry. Stir in margarine and pepper to taste.

Calories: 70, Fat: 3 grams, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Total Carbs: 9 grams, Sodium: 75 mg

Crystal says that stepping out for a family walk after Thanksgiving dinner and organizing family games and activities that remove the focus from food are helpful ways to prevent a return to the dinner table. For more information on the hospital's nutrition counseling, diabetic education, and weight loss management classes, visit the website at



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