Picture the typical holiday table and you’ll likely envision an abundant spread of stuffing, turkey, latkes, and pies. Now imagine navigating all that and trying to stick to a low-sodium, low-fat, or low-sugar diet. That’s the challenge in front of seniors who must follow certain dietary restrictions because of a heart condition or diabetes. With a few easy substitutions and omissions here and there, you can help your dad or mom stick to his or her diet and feel like they are a part of the holiday meal. Keep reading for 20 tips for holiday meals that are low salt, low fat, and low sugar.
Tips to Help Your Parent Stick to a Low-Sodium Diet
- Flavor foods with garlic, flavored vinegars, and herbs, such as rosemary or thyme.
- Keep salt shakers off the table. This will prevent guests from automatically sprinkling it on.
- Check with your doctor before feeding your parent a salt substitute, such as potassium chloride. These can have negative effects on aging kidneys.
- If using canned beans or vegetables, choose salt-free varieties, or rinse generously.
- When buying a store-bought turkey, read the label carefully to be sure it hasn’t been injected with saltwater to create plumpness.
- Bake with unsalted butter.
- Think twice before setting out trays of salted nuts, olives, or processed deli meats. These contain a lot of salt, and it’s easy to lose track of servings.
Tips to Help Your Parent Stick to a Low-Fat Diet
- Serve your parent white meat from the turkey. It contains less fat than dark.
- Trim skin off poultry.
- Make gravy with low-salt broth, skim milk, and flour.
- Instead of mashed potatoes, give mom or dad a baked potato. These are full of magnesium and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure.
- Replace half the called-for fats and oils in baking recipes with unsweetened applesauce, canned pumpkin, or sweet potato puree.
- When a recipe calls for dairy, go for the low-fat varieties.
Tips to Help Your Parent Stick to a Low-Sugar Diet
- Watch portions of cranberry based recipes, which can contain a surprising amount of sugar.
- Cut back on sugar in recipes and supplement with cinnamon, vanilla, citrus, or nutmeg.
- Don’t just skip dessert—this may make mom or dad feel left out. Many specialty bakeries make sugar-free desserts, or you can .
- Satisfy a sweet tooth with sugar-free Jell-O, or unsweetened applesauce warmed and sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- If serving post-meal coffee or tea, leave out the sugar and provide guests with a cinnamon stick or lemon wedge instead.
- Choose sauces and salad dressings with no added sugars.
- When baking, swap out half the required sugar for pureed bananas or pears.
If all else fails, limit/reduce portions of their absolutely favorite item so they can still enjoy it as they wish.