10 Healthy Swaps for the Holidays

10 Healthy Swaps for the Holidays

The holidays are here – along with a tempting array of sweet and savory foods that are always a big part of the celebrations. Often loaded with calories galore, their creamy, spicy, ooey-gooey, mouth-watering goodness is the driving inspiration behind the New Year’s most popular resolution: lose weight.

So how can you avoid packing on extra pounds over the holidays? First, and most importantly, you don’t have to deprive yourself or give up all your favorites. Just make a few smart choices. Here’s a list of healthy swaps to help you have healthier, happier holidays.

Smart Swaps That Cut the Fat

  1. Trade your big dinner plate for a small one. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. Smaller plates are a great way to control portion sizes and avoid overeating while still being satisfied.
  2. Eat slowly rather than hurry through a meal. leaving site icon By doing so, you give your body time to catch up with how full you really feel. When you know you’re full, you can avoid overeating.
  3. Take a brisk walk after you eat, not a nap. Stretching out on a comfy sofa may seem like bliss, but walking around the block or a local school track will help you digest your food and burn extra calories.
  4. Cook simple dishes with fewer ingredients. Forgo soufflés and casseroles for oven-roasted veggies. When you skip dishes laden with eggs, cream and cheese, you cut calories that turn into extra pounds.
  5. Dress salads lightly. Creamy mayonnaise-based salad dressings like ranch and blue cheese are loaded with calories and fat. Drizzle salads with a low-calorie mix of olive oil and vinegar or a simple vinaigrette.
  6. Nosh on protein, not carbs. When you skip the bread and potatoes, you have more room for healthier fare like turkey and veggies. If you crave carbs, choose wheat breads and baked sweet potatoes.
  7. Opt for homemade over store bought. The holiday recipes you cook and bake in your kitchen feature fresher, healthier ingredients. Plus, their free of artificial preservatives and fillers that add empty calories.
  8. Put a fresh spin on traditional favorites. Retire the canned cranberry sauce for less sugary cranberry relish, or garnish your holiday side dishes with fresh cranberries.
  9. Cut sugary drinks loaded with calories. Fill your glass with water, sparkling water or juice spritzer. They’re just as refreshing as alcoholic drinks and soft drinks, but often have zero calories.
  10. Keep a keen eye on the pie. If you’re going to have dessert (and we know we are), choose pumpkin pie over the other tempting varieties. Sans top crust and whipped cream, it’s a healthier choice.

Every swap you make will help you enjoy a guilt-free holiday without those hard-to-lose extra pounds afterward.

Sources: 20 Holiday Food Swaps That Will Save Hundreds of Calories and Taste Amazing, leaving site icon Prevention, 2019; 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020; Healthy Holidays Are  Possible, leaving site icon Forbes Health, 2021.

Originally published 11/26/2015; Revised 2021