Smart Low-Calorie Food Swaps to Survive the Holidays

We are in the middle of the full blown Holiday Season now and with it comes parties, special meals and dreaded weight gain. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to enjoy the flavors and traditions of the holiday season without feeling like you are depriving yourself. The trick to keeping those pants from getting too snug from now until January is portion control and smart choices.

We hope these food swap tips will teach you how to stay healthy during the holidays and help keep your diet under control. Keep in mind that during the holiday season (and every day), it is important to spread your caloric intake out throughout the day instead of saving up for one big meal. Eating small amounts throughout the day will prevent cravings and help you exercise self-control at mealtime.

Go with a low-calorie dip.

Why waste calories on dips made with full-fat sour cream? Substitute low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt or nonfat sour cream for regular sour cream in all of your recipes this season. An ounce of sour cream has about 60 calories, while an ounce of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has only 15 to 20 calories (and a good amount of protein), and an ounce of nonfat sour cream has about 25. This swap can really reduce your caloric intake without sacrificing flavor. Be sure to stay away from crackers and bread and enjoy those holiday dips with veggies instead.

Skip the alcohol.

Put down the Eggnog, which can pack a whopping 250 (or more) calories. If you must indulge, consider making a wine spritzer instead. Simply replace 2 ounces of wine with club soda. This swap can save your around 60 calories.

Roast the sweet potatoes.

Instead of serving sweet potatoes loaded with marshmallows, try oven-roasted sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and other meals. A 3/4-cup serving of sweet potatoes brushed with a little heart-healthy canola or olive oil is only 100 calories. Not only do you get more potatoes for fewer calories, but also you’ll also get a healthy helping of vitamins and nutrients from the potatoes.

Opt for white meat.

Do you always choose the turkey’s dark meat? The fact is that the dark meat has about twice the fat of turkey breast and about 40 percent more calories. A 3.5-ounce portion of dark meat with the skin on has about 230 calories, while the same amount of white meat without the skin is only about 160 calories.

Skip canned cranberry sauce and eat the real thing.

A quarter cup of canned cranberry sauce is 110 calories and is packed with high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup. A healthier and more flavorful choice is a scratch-made cranberry relish. Many delicious, low calorie recipes can be found online with a simple search. You may even consider using a sugar substitute such as Splenda or stevia to whittle down the calorie count even more.

If you must, finish with pumpkin pie.

Dessert is a grand finale of any holiday meal. Of course, it’s best to simply abstain from the dessert course if you are watching your diet around the holidays, but let’s face it, sometimes you just need a little indulgence. If you have your choices of pies, pumpkin is almost always the better option. Pumpkin pie tends to be lower in calories and saturated fat because it only has a bottom crust, and pumpkin is actually really high in Vitamin A and other nutrients. For an even lower-calorie option, make no-crust pumpkin pie in mugs or ramekins and top with toasted walnuts.

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