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We Can!™ Community News Feature

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Tasty Holiday Tips to Help Your Family Celebrate and Maintain a Healthy Weight

If visions of sugar plums dancing in your head have been replaced by visions of children running amok from a holiday cookie or leftover Halloween candy sugar rush—relax. There are ways to help them eat nutritiously during the most tempting time of year without you having to become the family Scrooge!

By substituting ingredients that are lower in fat and/or have less sugar in your favorite holiday recipes—and encouraging the whole family to get up and at 'em with a post–dinner walk, a Wii workout, or some other physical activity—you can still spread as much cheer as Santa Claus.

The nutritious tips listed in this bullet list can help you do it.

Holiday Cooking & Eating Tips

  • Use ingredient substitutions. For example, substitute one cup of fat–free evaporated milk for one cup of cream. Replace one cup of butter, margarine or oil with 1/2 cup of apple butter or applesauce, and try using a graham cracker crumb crust instead of pastry dough.
  • Take a tip from the reindeer and snack on something green at holiday parties! Also ditch the full–fat dips and dressings; instead use fat–free or reduced–fat yogurt in your recipes and for the veggie dip.
  • In Santa's chimney–side treats, substitute three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for one ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate. He may "know if you've been bad or good," but he will never know he is eating healthier!
  • Pour yourself a tall glass of fat–free milk. Milk is an excellent source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D. If you prefer eggnog, try sipping on a fat–free or low–fat version.
  • Have one or two of your favorite holiday foods (not five or six), and stay as light as your Menorah! Larger portions mean more calories, which can add up to extra pounds.

These tips come from the We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition) educational program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH has created science–based tips and tools (including recipes and snack ideas) for the parents and caregivers of 8– to 13–year–olds to help families stay at a healthy weight.

In fact, these tips, tools and resources are good for the whole family! Go to http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov for more on how to eat right, get up and move, and reduce time in front of the TV or computer screen.

So, if you want your family to avoid piling on the holiday pounds and reduce their risk of health problems associated with being overweight, put these and other valued We Can! pointers on your holiday "to-do" list.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013