“God bless us, everyone,” piped Tiny Tim, as the characters of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol settled ‘round the table for a massive feast. Yet holiday food can be a bane instead of a blessing for the 115 million Americans on a weight reductions diet this year.

No other time poses such a caloric temptation. And in many places, colder weather means people get less physical exercise just when they are eating more. But who wants to be a scrooge? There are common sense ways to retain the holiday spirit while cooking and eating sensibly. Consider these suggestions:


  • Use low-fat yogurt dips instead of cream cheese or sour cream. If required use light cream cheese or light sour cream
  • Select low-fat cheeses as appetizers: mozzarella (partly skimmed) and specifically prepared types that contain 3 grams or less of fat per ounce. Avoid the fatty cheeses: American, Camembert, Cheddar, Cheshire, Edam, Limburger, Feta, Provolone and the various commercial spreads.
  • Bake meat or poultry on a rack instead of simmering in a pan. The rack allows excess fat and juices to drain away. Don’t baste the meat – it increases fat content. Instead, place meat in an oven baking bag to preserve the moisture.
  • Use wild rice and/or brown rice instead of rich buttery stuffing. Rice adds fibre to your meal and a “nuttier” taste.
  • For soups and casseroles, use skim milk or canned evaporated skim milk rather than whole milk or cream. You can replace cream cheeses with low-fat, plain yogurt or low fat cottage cheese. To replace sour cream, add lemon juice to the yogurt/cottage cheese mixture.
  • Kabobs are a different and nutritious way to serve vegetables.
  • For pumpkin or custard type pies, use evaporated skim milk to replace cream (and egg substitutes if you’re on a low-cholesterol diet).
  • An oil based pie crust is better than one make with lard or shortening to cut cholesterol and saturated fat.
  • Whipped toppings can be made with non-fat dry milk, sugar and lemon juice


  • Fresh fruit or fruit compotes are lighter, healthier desserts than sweets.
  • Stay away from chocolate desserts – they have a high fat content.
  • Sorbets and sherbets also make light desserts.
  • Try fruit and vegetable juices instead of cocktails.
  • White wine and some wine “coolers” have fewer calories and lower alcohol content than cocktails with more than 1 ounce of distilled spirits and/or sugar sweetened mixes. Best drink bet, white wine spritzer. If using hard liquor, mix with diet pop.
  • Eat three moderately sized meals a day. Don’t “save up” all your allotted calories for one meal. You are likely to be so hungry that you’ll overdo it.
  • When making food for a “potluck,” bring food allowed on your diet. It will make nibbling less of a problem during preparation and will free you from high-fat leftovers.
  • It’s all right to go off your diet for one special holiday meal. But this does NOT mean nibbling and indulging throughout the holiday season.
  • If you can’t imagine serving one favorite food with anything less than the traditional (usually high-calorie) ingredients, go ahead. But cut the quantity you make and the portions you serve by half. This way, you’ll enjoy a classic treat without the consequences.

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