Healthy Holiday Foods & What To Avoid

Jasmine Phu

December 14, 2015


The holidays are a prime time of year to think about what you are eating. For the nearly two months between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, a seemingly endless array of cakes, candies, and deep-fried meat is placed in front of us and it can be hard to resist. But as we age, we have more to think about than just weight gain.

Nutrition for seniors changes with age, and maintaining proper nutrition is essential for seniors every day, not just through the holiday season.  These healthy holiday recipes and tips can help you keep your diet on track through the holidays and beyond!

Load up on fresh fruits and veggies



The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that seniors eat between 2 and 2.5 cups of fresh vegetables daily. Vegetables come in many different colors and it’s best to “eat the full rainbow” for ideal benefits. Green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, are packed with antioxidants. Orange and red veggies, like sweet potatoes and red peppers, have loads of vitamins.

To add some color to your holiday table this year, try this recipe for roasted sweet potatoes or this healthy green bean casserole.

Nix sugar and fats


It’s possible for food without sugar, butter, cream and transfats to taste just as delicious as their calorie-heavy counterparts. Calories were not all created equal; empty calories that you find in cookies, cakes, and even certain types of breads don’t have nutritional benefits or fill you up.  When you’re cooking with elderly nutrition in mind, consider making these healthy choices:

  • Swap out full-fat sour cream in your veggie dip with low-fat yogurt
  • Swap out white bread rolls with whole-wheat or multi-grain rolls instead
  • Swap out sugar with honey or maple syrup
  • Swap out eggs with unsweetened applesauce

Eat foods low in sodium and decrease meat intake



Aside from sugar, sodium can also have debilitating effects on your health as you age. High levels of sodium in your body can result in cardiovascular issues, like heart attacks or strokes. If you’re cooking for elderly loved ones this holiday, be sure to leave salt out of your recipe and encourage your guests to self-season their food.

You can also try salt-free seasonings, such as Mrs. Dash seasoning blends.  If you are cooking meat, specifically turkey or chicken, be sure to offer your older guests a cut of white meat, which has about 40 percent less calories than dark meat and less saturated fat.

Main dishes with more fresh vegetables and less meat can significantly decrease risks for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases.

It’s easier than you may think to make healthy decisions about senior nutrition. And the best part about all these tips is that they work for people looking to manage their health at any age!

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