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10 Achievable Ways To Make Healthy Holiday Food Choices

Last updated on : October 24 2018

healthy holiday food choices

Festive Weight Gain

If ever there was a time to test your healthy eating determination or to maintain your feminine proportions it is the holiday season.

Great food, splendid company, and relaxed conversations with loved ones makes it the toughest time to keep off the pounds, to stick to your regular workout routine and diet.

Most people gain 2 to 5 pounds during the holiday season. After a few years, these pounds add up to unhealthy weight gain and can contribute to a negative body image.

However, there are ways to enjoy the holiday season without the dreaded weight gain.

Develop A Holiday Eating Strategy

From heavy eggnogs and pecan pie to roasted and stuffed turkey and honey-baked ham – ‘tis the season to gorge on time-honored festive delicacies with your family and friends.

Yet it is also the season that requires an eating strategy and alternatives for more healthy eating. To protect the feminine proportions you love alongside your self-esteem.

As always we're committed to helping you out.

Try out the steps below for more sensible holiday dinners that will leave you fierce, fabulous, and kewl all year long. 

1. Finger Foods Are Not Your Friends

finger foods | The kewl shop

Office cocktail parties and home get-togethers are not considered complete without a host of finger foods. However, fried canapés, mini quiches, and cheese sticks with creamy dips are not your friends.  

Chips and fried finger foods are sure-shot pound-packers. They look innocuous in size and pass under your diet radar easily.

For example, a single serving of cheese and 5 crackers have you consuming more than 300 calories and 16 grams of fat.

The strategy - Load up on healthier finger foods to avoid extra calories and carbs.

Instead of dipping into the cheese-and-cracker duo, serve and eat an equally decadent shrimp cocktail (50 calories and negligible fat in a serving of 5 shrimps in a healthy cocktail sauce).

Load up on the raw vegetables being served. Other healthy food choices include fresh fruit, some nuts, vegetable platters with a hummus dip, avocados etc.

Avocados are full of healthy fats, fiber, vitamin A and C, etc. Eating avocados will help your skin glow, strengthens your hair, and reduces wrinkles.

If you just cannot do without your favorite finger foods, eat them in moderation. Go easy on the creamy dips and opt for healthier yogurt dips, guacamole, and salsas instead. 

2. Enjoy Turkey Differently

turkey dinners

Stuffed dark turkey meat covered in oodles of gravy is a holiday special that packs a high-fat content.

Turkey is a tasty holiday meat, however, dark meats such as turkey legs, thighs, and wings contain more than 70 additional calories and about 3 times the fat when compared to plain skinless white turkey meat such as the turkey breast.

The strategy - Ditch the skin, and load your plate with white turkey breast meat and just a dab of gravy for flavor. 

Experts recommend skipping the skin if you’re watching calories.

The skin adds 35 calories to a typical 3.5-ounce serving, says Harriette R. Mogul, MD, MPH, associate professor of clinical medicine at New York Medical College.

And sans skin, turkey’s low in saturated fat, says Kylene Bogden, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic.

3. Pass On The Honey-Glazed Ham 

honey glazed ham

Before it is cured with salt and drenched in sugar, ham is a great lean-meat option that is rich in vitamins and protein. However, the addition of all the salt and sugar make honey-glazed ham a pound packer without remorse.

Think doughnut because the glaze is really just a thick sugar coating.

The strategy - Avoid honey-glazed ham altogether or opt for a healthier glaze. 

As an alternative to honey-glazed ham, opt for a healthier glaze made of mustard and jam such as blackberry or cranberry sauce.

Or try Christmas pork, not ham. Make your own sweet, though sugar-free, glaze with antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice and calorie-free stevia, then thicken it with arrowroot.

Your other realistic option is to ditch the ham completely and choose a healthier food choice like turkey, beef, or sirloin instead.

4. Potatoes: Candied, Stuffed, or Mashed?

stuffed potatos

Drenched in butter, heavy whipping cream and salt, mashed and stuffed potatoes are a holiday staple just as much as candied yams. Potatoes are rich in fiber, flavonoids (cancer fighters), and quercetin (immunity).

However, these sides add a whopping 400 calories to your meal in one go with the addition of all the butter and fat.

When choosing sides to eat with dinner, a baked potato with butter isn't necessarily the most nutritious option.

While baking is one of the healthier ways to cook a potato, and baked potatoes do provide some essential vitamins and minerals, they tend to be higher in calories than many other vegetables.

Additionally, the butter adds a lot of fat, including unhealthy saturated fat, without significantly increasing the vitamin and mineral content.

The strategy - Try sweet potatoes instead and drop the butter

Spiced with cinnamon, mashed sweet potatoes, and baked sweet potato fries and rounds are perfect side-dishes that taste great and will not add to your weight woes. But remember to leave off the butter. 

5. Cranberry Sauce Isn't Wise

cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is a holiday staple that you really try to avoid.

While cranberries are healthy fruits, with plenty of dietary fiber, and vitamins C, E, and K, canned cranberry sauce serves up 105g of sugar, high amounts of AHA, and hundreds of calories. 

You can bid adieu to the health benefits of eating cranberries if you choose the canned varieties.

Cranberries are really good for you, but they are not naturally sweet. Consequently, all the cranberry products you purchase will have added sugar.

For instance, 100 grams of fresh cranberries contain only 46 calories, while 100 grams of cranberry sauce has 151 calories. The extra 100 calories add up to about 6 teaspoons of sugar.

The strategy - Make your own cranberry relish at home. 

Instead of opting for store-bought cranberry sauce that is made with sugar, corn syrup, and additional sweeteners and preservatives make your own cranberry relish at home.

Most recipes call for larger amounts of sugar than necessarily needed, so feel free to cut down on the sugar or opt for sugar substitutes such as stevia or Splenda.

6. The Dreadful Green Beans Casserole

green beans

A green bean casserole sounds like a healthy, green choice of food during the holidays but often is best to steer clear.

Green beans casserole uses full-fat cream of mushroom soup and French-fried onions. These casseroles are high in calories and fat.

The strategy - Make your own healthy version.

It's pretty easy to make a healthier green bean casserole

First, use fresh veggies that are not overcooked. Second, opt for organic or all-natural brands of soup and fried onions to keep some of the processed ingredients out. Third, swap out the whole milk or cream for skim milk.

As an alternative to this traditional pound-packer, serve steamed fresh green beans, or grilled asparagus spears.

If you are going to visit guests outside of your home nibble on vegetables prior to arriving to help control your appetite and reduce your cravings for those high-calorie foods.

7. Eggnog Takes the Cake (literally)  

eggnog

Did you know that the holiday favorite, eggnog, contains more than 250 calories? It provides more than half your daily saturated fat recommended dose in just one glass.

A relatively small four-ounce cup of store-bought eggnog boasts a whopping 170 calories (half of them from fat), nearly 10 grams of fat, and over 70 mg of cholesterol. 

The strategy - Switch to a healthier hot apple cider.

Instead of choosing glass after glass of eggnog (whether warm, spiked, or not) switch to hot apple cider. Other than being a great source of healthy antioxidants, apple cider also reduces your caloric intake. 

If you are still craving the taste of eggnog, make your own eggnog using egg substitutes, fat-free milk, and sugar alternatives instead.

We realize that saying no to holiday classics is always easier said than done. So if you must have a sip of eggnog be sure to ensure it is just that - a sip.

Drink it in moderation. And switch to low-calorie alternatives in-between such as club soda, wine spritzers, or water.

8. Pecan Pie vs. Pumpkin Pie

pecan pie

It pains me to report that traditionally served pecan pie packs a whopping 800 calories per slice. 

Pecan pie is traditionally made with a good amount of corn syrup and/or brown sugar, which only contributes sugar and calories. And the crust can be a big source of fat, especially artery-clogging saturated fat.

Although pecans themselves have many healthy attributes, more doesn’t mean healthier.

The strategy - A realistic alternative to the time-honored dish is a slice of pumpkin pie.

While a slice of pumpkin pie still packs in 300 calories, it also offers plenty of vitamin A, iron, and calcium. Your hips will thank you for not loading up on corn syrup, sugar, and butter.

If you just cannot do without pecan pie, skip eating the fatty crust. This one step helps reduce your caloric intake by 100 calories or so.

9. Caramel Apples Are Risky

caramel apples

Not only do they taste great but making caramel apples is often a holiday family entertainment activity or tradition.

While they may be fun to make, you cannot negate the fact that the caramel sauce is just pure sugar mixed in with high-fructose corn syrup or butter.

The Strategy - Avoid them completely or find fat free versions for the sauce.

Packing well over 320 calories, finding a healthy equivalent for caramel apples is essential. Instead of making a caramel sauce, consider fat-free varieties of caramel sundae syrups.

10. Some Other Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

healthy living

Enjoy a few guilty pleasures. Acknowledge that eating a little more during the holidays is expected. Plan to enjoy a few treats over the time so as not to overly miss the season's culinary delicacies. This way you are less likely to binge-eat on “cheat days”.

Choose your indulgences. Instead of eating high-calorie food items that are available throughout the year, choose to indulge in items that actually commemorate the joy and unique spirit of the holiday season.
Manage your portion size. Use smaller plates, serving utensils, and tall, skinny glasses.

Avoid salty items. Eating too many salty food items during the holidays may lead to water retention and swelling of your hands and feet. Fret not, there is a simple home remedy to handle this problem. Add a dash of fresh lemon juice to the water you drink to improve its taste and reduce the swelling.

Don’t skip breakfast. Research shows that eating a healthy breakfast prevents overeating later on in the day and gives your metabolism a jump start. 

Keep up your exercise routine. The holiday season is a time to let down your hair and enjoy yourself. However, keep exercising and even double up. Ensure that you squeeze in at least a couple of workout sessions during the week. And don't fool yourself, your house-cleaning efforts and running around for shopping don't necessarily contribute toward your exercise quota.

Don't fret a single meal. Chances are that you may overeat during one meal. If this happens, ensure you go easy on the next. If you unnecessarily overeat more than 500 calories a day for a week, you will gain a pound. One meal is not likely to jeopardize your diet for good, so focus on getting back on track.

Eat slowly. Your brain takes time to process whether or not you are full. So wait at least 10-15 minutes before you choose to eat second servings. It is also a great idea to spend some quality time actually tasting each morsel of food, instead of just gulping it down.

Get rest and drink water. Finally, remember to get enough sleep and drink plenty of water to help your body maintain a healthy immune and digestive system. 

Final Thoughts

More than anything else, the holiday season is a time to enjoy with family and friends. Focus on socializing and making connections with those around you, while consciously choosing to make healthier food choices is a simple way to protect your feminine proportions and self-esteem.

We hope that these strategies and alternative food choices give you the confidence to enjoy your holiday feast and allow you to fit into your dazzling dress at your New Year’s Eve party. 

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