Health issues arise from holiday meals

Staff Editorial

Sitting at a table laden with glazed hams, buttery mashed potatoes and massive pumpkin pies can be a temptation too hard to resist and the food-centric culture of the holidays is certainly delicious — but also dangerously unhealthy. Alternatives to the calorie-filled holiday dishes can be safer for one’s health, while being equally as yummy.

Many dishes can have lower calorie alternatives. Stuffing cooked outside the turkey or gravy made from a less fattening base lowers the amount of calories in these holiday dishes. Using low fat or nonfat alternative like light spread margarine or whipped butter is a better option then butter and sour cream to put on potatoes.

A healthier alternative that may not be a first choice is a vegan-based holiday meal. “Vegan-based” means having the majority of the diet made up of nondairy and nonanimal product. One can still eat meat and dairy, but just not as a main component in their diet. Eating entirely vegan doesn’t make one “healthy,” but a diet made up of plants and legumes is generally considered better for overall health and will lower the caloric intake during holiday meals.

Meats are usually a very important centerpiece of each holiday meal, so the thought of eliminating them is not positively accepted. Choosing leaner meats for a less fattening centerpiece would be the ideal alternative.

Some holiday foods actually have a lot of hidden health benefits. Sweet potatoes have high vitamin A content which promotes skin and bone health, as well as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Cranberries may prevent Urinary Tract Infections, heart disease and kidney stones. Chocolate in moderation has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.

High-calorie dishes that cannot be replaced like pumpkin pie and glazed ham can be eaten in moderation while still eating healthy. Many tend to think that eating healthy means forgoing desserts and all “unhealthy” food, but the key to healthy eating is portion size. Eating a small slice of pie is the best of both worlds — good food and good health. The most unhealthy treats like Eggnog can easily be replaced by drinks like apple cider or hot chocolate.

Even with the tie to tradition, it’s sometimes better to try to think health wise when laying out a meal. Turkey with the mashed potatoes may be loved but meals like these can leave people feeling sick and in the long run create health issues such as coronary heart disease. Students need to start eating well at a young age. Picking alternatives to certain foods in a holiday meal can allow the enjoyment of consuming food with family while still keeping their caloric intake low.