Healthy Festive Holiday Foods

Starting with Thanksgiving, we have come into our most joyful time of the year, gathering with those we love to share good laughs, good food and, we hope, good nutrition. With that in mind, I called on my niece, NYC-based registered dietitian-nutritionist Kristen Carlucci, and asked her to share her advice.

What are the best foods for adults over 50 to eat during the holidays?

It’s crucial to focus on high-quality superfoods because our bodies have a harder time absorbing nutrients as we age. The key players: fiber, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins (bonus: vitamins A and C for anti-aging). Make sure your plate this holiday season is filled with these nutrient-packed and delicious foods:

Sweet Potatoes
What it contains: fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium
How to enjoy: Whip up some creamy mashed sweet potatoes, or bake a crustless sweet potato pie.

Turkey
What it contains: protein, B12
How to enjoy: Choose a palm-sized portion of white or dark meat without the skin.

Walnuts & Pumpkin Seeds
What it contains: protein, omega-3 fats, fiber
How to enjoy: Snack on some walnuts before the meal so you don’t show up ravenous, or throw some pumpkin seeds into salad or even stuffing!

Dark Leafy Greens
What it contains: vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium
How to enjoy: Roast up some kale chips for a satisfying and low calorie appetizer, or make a large seasonal salad to be enjoyed alongside the main meal.

Whole Grain Stuffing
What it contains: fiber, B vitamins
How to enjoy: Let’s be honest, it’s not Thanksgiving without the stuffing. This year, try a version made with whole grain bread or quinoa. Your guests won’t notice the difference, promise.

With so many tempting foods to choose from, how do you ensure that you leave the table feeling satisfied, instead of stuffed?

Stick to the 50-25-25% rule. Fill 50% of your plate with vegetables FIRST, then 25% with protein (such as turkey), and the last 25% with carbs (stuffing, potatoes, etc.) Portion control made simple! If you’re going back for seconds, go back for seconds of vegetables only.

What about alcohol?

Try to set a 1-3 drink limit for the day and keep it simple with wine, champagne, light beer or mixed drink with a calorie-free mixer. Continue to stay hydrated with lots of water or make a mocktail of club soda with a splash of cranberry.

Should we avoid desserts altogether?

Of course not! It’s all about moderation. Research shows that it only takes us three bites of something to feel satisfied, so keep that in mind when it comes to sweets. Splurge on a few bite-sized portions of your favorite desserts that you only get during the holidays (cough, pumpkin pie, cough). Finish the night with a nice cup of tea or decaf coffee to signal to your body that you’re done eating.

Final Note: It never hurts to add a little exercise as a “digestif.” Continue that great conversation from the dinner table while you take a 30-minute family walk.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Holiday Season, all!

To learn more about Kristen:
Kristen Carlucci, NYC-based registered dietitian-nutritionist
Website: www.kristencarlucci.com
Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest: @kristencarlucci

Celeste Carlucci