The holidays aren’t just around the corner – they’re here!
But do you have to be resigned to gaining weight during the holidays? When you begin thinking about all that great holiday food, it’s difficult to limit your portions as much as your willpower will allow and suck in as you button pants the next day. Happily, it is possible to eat lighter over the holidays, but it does take a little knowledge, and a little pre-planning as you sit down to your holiday feast.
We can get you started with this list of 10 healthy alternatives to traditional holiday foods.
Turkey vs. Turkey
We’re not even going to suggest you ditch the turkey this year, so put those pitchforks down and pick up the dinner fork! You can have turkey, as long as you know the cut of meat to choose. (Hint- white meat is healthier than dark meat and the skin is a no-no).
Honey Glazed Ham vs. Beef Sirloin
OK, before you get angry about losing out on that delicious honey glazed ham for dinner, stop a minute to consider that a ham, rubbed in brown sugar, sitting in its own fat and cooked with other trappings like butter and oil is extremely appetizing, but very unhealthy. In fact, it has about 300 calories for a 2-ounce serving. You have a few alternatives with this one – you can get a smoked ham without all the add-ons or you can opt for beef sirloin, which is about 150 calories for a two ounce serving, depending on how you make it.
Mashed Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are lower in fat and calories, higher in nutrients, and pack more natural flavor than mashed potatoes so you can get away with not dousing them in butter. This makes them a good alternative to traditional mashed potatoes and gravy, or scalloped potatoes with cheese and butter.
Baked Potatoes vs. Russet Potatoes
If you’re like us, the thought of missing out on delicious potatoes over the holidays is almost too much to face.
That’s fine; try eating two small red or russet potatoes instead of a large baked potato. You will have fewer calories and a smaller serving. Plus, you won’t add even more calories with butter, cheese, sour cream, and all the other fixings because russets are great with a little black pepper and light ranch dressing.
Cornbread Dressing vs. Gluten Free Stuffing
There are two types of holiday people – those who like dressing and those who like stuffing. Don’t know the difference? Dressing is made of cornbread, and stuffing is made with bread crumbs or croutons. That’s the most basic, defining difference, but there are others. When it comes to holiday healthiness, though, the only way to get a healthy dressing or stuffing is to make it from gluten free, no fat and butter substitute products. Those will cut the calories by about one third of the normal calories.
Deviled Eggs vs. Avocado Eggs
Deviled eggs are a holiday must-have, and while an egg is healthy, the mixture of the yoke and mayo, with whatever else you combine, is not always the most diet friendly option. Try using a blended avocado instead of mayo. It will give the deviled egg that smooth texture, add a new flavor, and increase your intake of B-vitamins without even trying.
Green Bean Casserole vs. Steamed Vegetables
If you love it, you really love it and you are probably not going to like hearing that the traditional green bean casserole contains 310 calories for one cup. And you just thought those beans were healthy! Instead, try some grilled asparagus, steamed vegetable medley, or grilled corn on the cob. All of these come in under 100 calories for the same serving size.
Pecan Pie vs. Apple Pie vs. Pumpkin Pie
Traditional pecan pie has 676 calories in each 130 gram serving. Apple pie can have more than that, depending on how it’s cooked and how it’s topped. Pumpkin pie, on the other hand, has 161 calories per the same serving size. That means you can eat four times the amount as pecan pie! Dig in! (But not to four slices).
Some of the best holiday parties have great appetizers. But beware! Though they are small, they are loaded with calories. One classic appetizer is crackers and a home made cheese ball, which can contain up to 310 calories for just a 2-ounce serving. That’s a lot of extra weight for a little cheese. Try opting for a shrimp cocktail, which has about 100 calories for 6 shrimp, or fruit with 1 ounce of cream cheese or whipped cream for 100-150 calories for half a cup.
Holiday food isn’t the only thing that adds to the pounds. All of those fun cocktails, hot chocolates, and other drinks can pack quite a calorie filled punch. Eggnog, for example, has 343 calories for one cup. You could substitute that for a sugar free hot chocolate that has around 60 calories per cup, or even water flavored with cranberry Crystal Lite packets for 5 calories or less for two cups. Even if you add whipped cream to the hot chocolate, you will still come in under 100 calories for the cup. Be smart about wines and cocktails, too, and try to limit yourself to one serving per night. Also, the more of those you drink the more food you are likely to eat, so it’s a double-edged sword.