American Society For Nutrition

Holiday Moderation

Holiday Moderation

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 12/31/2009 at 04:03:53 PM by Student Blogger
By: Emily C.

The holiday season is truly a foodie's delight, but it can also be a nightmare for the health-conscious. Before you trade your skinny jeans for those elastic waist sweatpants, be assured that the abundance of food associated with the upcoming holidays {whichever ones you celebrate} does not have to translate into an epic food coma.


There are a couple of different ways to approach the holiday season. As a foodie, I understand that some recipes, no matter how calorie-laden and fat overloaded, are just too good to be modified. Take, for example, my family's traditional Swedish Smörgåsbord, which includes rice pudding, potato sausage, Gouda and Havarti cheeses, ham, and peppermint ice cream, for starters. This is where moderation comes into play. Moderation is a word I love using. Applying this concept to eating involves allowing myself to enjoy a high calorie, high fat meal, while choosing healthy options most of the time.


On the other hand, as a future dietitian, I know that small modifications to rich dishes can improve their nutritional value and have a positive additive effect in the long run. Healthy food can be delicious, too. Recently, my foodservice rotation site [St. Louis Children's Hospital] featured a sampling of appetizers with a healthy twist. The hospital staff members we served were able to try different foods for the first time and were generally surprised to find that tofu and humus can actually be pretty flavorful.

Here are some of the appetizers we served:

Tofu & Cherry Tomato Skewers


1 pound regular tofu, 1 inch x 1 inch
2/3 pound cherry tomatoes, fresh
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh basil
1 teaspoon lite soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, crushed

In a bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, basil, salt, and pepper. Add the tomatoes and cubed tofu to the bowl and stir carefully. Let marinate for a few minutes. Pre-soak wooden skewers in water. Thread the tofu and tomatoes onto the skewers. In a non-stick sautÉ pan, fry the tofu and tomato on each side.

Flatbread Pinwheels


Directions: spread fat-free vegetable cream cheese (mix cream cheese with minced celery, pepper, carrot, and onion) on Flatout (9 g each of protein and fiber!) brand wraps. Sprinkle with shredded jicama and chopped, roasted pecans. Roll and slice into pinwheels.



½ cup cold water
2 ¾ teaspoons sesame paste (Tahini)
¼ cup garlic cloves, peeled and fresh
¼ cup lemon juice, fresh
2 ¾ teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups garbanzo beans, canned, drained, rinsed
1/8 teaspoon ground paprika

Using a food processor, blend the garlic, tahini, cumin, water, and garbanzo beans. Add lemon juice and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Blend until the hummus is smooth. Garnish with a dusting of paprika. Serve with fresh cut veggies.

And, as Rachel K advised, post-meal exercise is never a bad idea. Family get-togethers are also the perfect opportunity to cream your un-favorite cousins with snowballs or organize a game of family friendly football. 
Whether you choose to practice moderation when eating your favorite holiday foods or by making appetizers on the lighter side this year, I hope you take time to truly enjoy the season. Feel free to leave comments about your fave holiday dishes!

Posted Jan 05, 2010 11:04 AM by Rachel

Those healthy snacks look delicious!

Moderation is key. I hate not wearing skinny jeans. Thanks for the good tips and recipes. At first glance the roll-ups look unhealthy but the ingredients list is healthy, nice. Personally and as a future dietitian, I find it hard to make recommendations I do not follow myself. Moderation is key, I believe completely abstaining from something you like drives your desire to binge and gorge. Instead I like to have two-three bites of something (pumpkin pie) every so often. thanks for the post

Posted Jan 06, 2010 6:48 AM by Laurie

The roll ups look yummy. As someone just adventuring into vegetarianism - this is an encouraging word!

Great stuff here. it's well written and useful. There will be numerous opportunities to overindulge with all the holiday parties, treats and spirits waiting for you. For some of us, holiday eating is akin to holiday spending, it doesn’t take long to over do it but we end up paying for it all year long. I completely agree that moderation is the key to stay fit and healthy. - Shane

Posted Jan 06, 2010 10:39 PM by Taya Vandesa

You have some excellent ideas, Ms. Carlson. I always look forward to your creative posts on the ASN blog. Your ideas for implementing the often-nebulous term "moderation" are certainly practical and resourceful. I look forward to trying the flatbread pinwheels.

I think It will not be complete if I'm eating my holiday foods with no juice. So, give me some recipes on how to make a very delicious juice.