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pear pie

Healthy Holiday Hacks

Posted by Mary Liz Wright -


The holidays are upon us and with all the hustle and bustle come the parties and the treats. It's fun while it lasts, this whirlwind of festivity. But January 1st looms large on the horizon and with it the regret that comes from too much fruitcake. How can we enjoy the holidays and not gain weight? It's not that you are gorging yourself at every meal—what with all that you have on your to do list you barely sit down to eat! Where do those holiday pounds come from?

Let's follow the average person through a typical December day. We'll begin by baking a batch of cookies—oops! One broke—you can't serve a broken cookie—might as well eat it. (30 calories) Your coworker brought candy to work, one piece won't hurt. (80 calories) Over the noon hour you run by the grocery store where they are passing out samples of cheese. Cheese is good for you! ( 40 calories) Oh, and around the corner is a display of those fancy flavored coffees—yum! (20 calories) Back to work where someone put chocolate covered cherries in the break room—you can't resist! (60 calories) This evening is your first holiday party of the season, before dinner they serve a few chips with dip. You just have three. (75 calories) And who can pass up eggnog? You know it's loaded with calories so you just have ½ cup. (200 calories) You are last in the buffet line and when you reach the sweet potato casserole there are only a couple of spoonfuls left---you "help out" by cleaning up the dish. (60 calories) Always accommodating, you help serve the dessert—before you leave the kitchen you have a little taste of the candy cane ice cream. (70 calories) The little bits here and there have added a whopping 635 calories to your day. If you continue with this "innocent" behavior by week's end you could gain a pound; which could lead to 5-7 pounds for the season. (3500 extra calories =1 pound of gained weight)

How do we avoid this? Not by starving ourselves or even denying ourselves the holiday treats that only come once a year. Be mindful of what you put in your mouth. If you want a treat sit down and eat it. Do not skip meals. Stick with your regular exercise routine, try to get a few more miles/minutes in on "party" days. Plan ahead. Eat nutritiously most days of the week and do not deny yourself a small portion of your favorite indulgence. Do not graze through the day thinking a little bit won't do any harm; because it can. When I am filling my plate I try to "plan and scan" and mentally deduct 100 calories by selecting more vegetables and skipping the potatoes or roll.

You can also adjust recipes to decrease calories, sodium and fat. When baking, reduce the sugar by 1/3 and the salt by ½. Substitute ½ of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Replace the oil or shortening with unsweetened applesauce. Use low fat dairy and thicken sauces and gravy with cornstarch after skimming the fat from the broth. My suggestion is not to use all of these "hacks" in a single recipe, try one or two. By reducing the calories in several dishes you can then "afford" a small piece of pecan pie!

  • Calorie facts provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension

Be Smart, Eat Well, Get Healthy

Mary Liz Wright, Nutrition and Wellness Educator

University of Illinois Extension serving the counties of Clark, Crawford and Edgar

Pear Pie with Cheddar Cheese Topping


3 pounds pears, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup Splenda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 (9-inch) unbaked frozen pie shell

½ cup shredded, low-fat cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
3 tablespoons margarine, melted
¼ cup Splenda®
1/8 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine pears, Splenda, cornstarch, and salt. Pour into pastry shell.
  3. Combine topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over pear mixture.
  4. Bake at 425° for 25-35 minutes until crust is light brown and cheese has melted.

Nutrition facts:

8 servings; 163 calories, 5g fat; 2mg cholesterol; 131 mg sodium; 28 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g protein

FromRecipes for Diabetesby University of Illinois Extension

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