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Happy, Healthy Holidays: Low Salt, Low Sugar and Low Fat Options
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on December 16th, 2014

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Happy, Healthy Holidays: Low Salt, Low Sugar and Low Fat Options

assisted living  |  tips for caregivers  |  health tips for seniors  |  Aging & Caregiving

70848While eating right at any time of the year is challenging, doing so during the holidays can feel downright impossible.

However, with some advance planning and a commitment to limiting sugar, salt and fat during your holiday meal preparation, you can help your family members -- including your aging loved one -- sail through the season and start the new year off right.

Cut It Out

There's an easy trick to making nearly any meal healthier: reduce the amount of sugar. In most recipes, sugar can be halved without affecting taste. If additional flavor is necessary, add extra spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla. When a recipe calls for jams and jellies, fresh or frozen berries are a nutrient-packed alternative.

Shake It Out            

Because our ability to taste declines with age, many seniors end up reaching for the salt. Keep sodium intake low by trimming a recipe’s salt in half and increasing flavor with herbs and spices. Instead of high salt condiments, such as mustard, ketchup and pickles, offer fresh condiments like homemade fruit salsa and fresh tomatoes. For recipes that require soy sauce and broth, seek out low-sodium versions. Processed foods, in particular, tend to be high in sodium so choose fresh options whenever possible and be sure to consult labels for sodium content when shopping.

If cured ham is part of your holiday tradition, there’s no need to give it up completely; just enjoy in moderation, or consider preparing a pork loin roast. And if the bird's the word at your holiday meal, choose a non-self-basting turkey and leave the skin on to seal in flavor while cooking. Baste the turkey with its own juices, and then remove the skin before serving.

Trim the Fat

Baked goods are often loaded with fat, but you don’t have to pass on the pie to enjoy these familiar flavors. Simply replace oil cup for cup with mashed banana, pureed pumpkin or unsweetened applesauce for a moist, delicious treat. Not only does this decrease fat, but it also increases fiber content. Sweet potatoes, meanwhile, can be sweetened with orange or apple juice instead of butter and sugary marshmallows. When preparing your stuffing, trade out butter and margarine for low sodium chicken broth.

If you serve up a cheese course as part of your holiday meal, opt for a platter of crunchy crudité to satisfy cravings without sacrificing calories. Or, serve a nut course instead: while nuts are high in calories, they’re also packed with antioxidants, protein, fiber and healthy unsaturated fats.

Another simple tip - After preparing gravy, pop it into the fridge, then skim the hardened fat off the top. 

And while eggnog is an essential part of many seasonal celebrations, it can have more than 300 calories a cup! Look for reduced calorie versions when you do indulge.

By keeping an eye out for healthy recipes, and by making smart substitutions, you can create a holiday feast that’s high in flavor and low in fat, salt and sugar. And what better way to celebrate your family members and friends than by offering a holiday meal that promotes good health in the coming year?

Key Takeaways

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.