7 Ways To Eat Healthy During the Holiday Season

November 15, 2014 -

Any occasion the family comes together is a special occasion, which is why we love the holiday season so much at Carrabba’s. With family and friend gatherings, however, comes plate after plate of delicious food. Experts say that the average American gains 5-10 pounds during the holiday season. Here are a few tips to help you beat the holiday-weight-gain odds.

1. Skip the Bread
Warm bread with olive oil is a tempting way to start a holiday meal. However, just one tablespoon of oil contains 120 calories, and those calories will quickly add up before you even take your first sip of wine. Just skip the bread.

2. Start with a Salad
Starting your meal with a salad is an excellent way to consume a variety of vegetables and healthy fats. A salad will fill you up with few calories before the main entrée and help keep excess calorie consumption at bay. At Carrabba’s, we offer a choice of side salad with our entrees. Choose from a House Salad or Italian Salad with light balsamic vinaigrette for about 100 calories. Or split a Tomatoes Caprese appetizer with fresh tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella and balsamic drizzle for 450  calories.

3. If You’re Going To Eat Pasta, Build A Healthful Pasta Dish
If you’re in an Italian family, pasta most likely will be a part of the holiday celebration. And if you’re not careful, it can be loaded with calories and unhealthy fats. Avoid heavy cream sauces like Alfredo.  Choose pasta dishes with fresh veggies and vegetables sauces like Carrabba’s house-made tomato sauce, Pomodoro Sauce, or our Pic Pac sauce made with crushed tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil. We also carry whole grain spaghetti that can be substituted for almost every pasta dish. Try Spaghetti Pomodoro with whole grain spaghetti for just 430 calories.

4. Look for foods made with good fats
This may be shocking, but not all fat is bad for you. When substituted for unhealthy saturated fat, unsaturated fats provide health benefits while providing flavor and helping you feel and stay full.  Monounsaturated fats help lower bad LDL cholesterol and don’t reduce good HDL cholesterol. These fats are found in canola oil, olive oil, olives, avocados, nuts, and nut butters. Polyunsaturated fats help lower cholesterol and are found in fatty fish like salmon, vegetable oils, nuts and sunflower seeds.

5. Choose healthful preparations
The way your meal is prepared can add in extra calories and fat without you even knowing it.  Avoid dishes that are sautéed, fried, and breaded, and choose grilled, baked or roasted instead. Carrabba’s has a variety of entrees that are cooked on its signature wood-fire grill, which maximizes flavor and minimizes fat. Some of these dishes include our Wood-Fire Grilled Salmon with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette (6 oz. 480 calories), Grilled Tuscan Sirloin Skewers with Red Wine Sauce (420 calories), or Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Port Wine Fig Sauce (460 calories).

6. Choose Smaller Portion Sizes
It’s simple: smaller portions equal less calories and fat.  Carrabba’s has several entrees that come in regular and small sizes. Pairing a small-sized entrée with a fresh vegetable like Carrabba’s freshly steamed spinach is a great way to balance indulgence with health during the holiday season, and for less than 600 calories. Look for mini desserts too, like our Mini Cannoli for only 250 calories each.  Sometimes just a bite of something sweet will satisfy your sweet tooth.

7. Don’t Skip Meals
On those days that you are planning on dining out or attending a party to celebrate the holidays, eat regular meals throughout the day. Skipping meals may seem like a good way to limit calorie intake, but experts agree that when meals are skipped we tend to overindulge in later meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite, and you will be less tempted to over-indulge.

Got any questions? Just comment below!

Maria Caranfa, RDN, LDN, ACSM Health and Fitness Specialist