Holiday Eating: Smart Swaps

Red Velvet Cupcakes


We’re well into the holiday season and chances are you are faced with many tempting treats. While you should enjoy the holidays with your favorite foods, I know that many of you want to keep an eye on good health too. At your next holiday party or potluck, look for these better for you alternatives to beat the bulge. If you are the host, add some healthier options to the table.



The fresh vegetable tray is a great place to start. It’s likely the most nutritious option on the table and the veggies will fill you up on fewer calories. Instead of pigs in a blanket at 460 calories per serving, choose a leaner option. Look for chicken or beef kabobs, chicken satay, lean turkey meatballs or roast beef slices. These are all less than 200 calories per serving and full of lean protein to keep you satisfied.


Chips, Dip and Other Munchies

Chips and dip can be addictive. You may know firsthand that it’s hard to eat just one – especially if there’s French onion dip involved. Instead of potato chips and dip, fill up on salsa with just a few tortilla chips. You get 8 times more calories in French onion dip compared to veggie salsa. If you must have the French onion dip, substitute fresh veggies for the chips to significantly cut calories. Hummus with whole grain pita chips or fresh veggies is another great option to munch on.

And, if you’re eyeing that healthy-sounding spinach artichoke dip, take a closer look. Most are high in fat and calories with as much as 300 calories in just a ½ cup – not including the chips!



Desserts are synonymous with the holidays. At some point you’ll encounter pound cake, red velvet cake, cupcakes, fudge, sweet potato pie, frosted sugar cookies and more. Even if you’re watching your waistline, you can have dessert. To minimize the damage, stick to small cupcakes and go easy on the icing, opt for sweet potato pie over pecan pie or a sliver of Grandma’s pound cake not a hunk. And I know it’s hard to believe at times but fresh fruit is a perfect way to end a meal. For a special treat, enjoy baked apples, chocolate covered strawberries or fresh pineapple in yogurt sauce.


Adult Beverages

Alcohol not only adds empty calories, it also tends to lower your inhibitions and may lead to overeating. To keep it festive on fewer calories enjoy a glass of wine (140 calories) or a wine spritzer (80 calories). Spiked eggnog is a popular choice for holiday gatherings. Instead of traditional eggnog at 350-450 calories per glass, sip on warm apple cider or a small mug of hot cocoa at about 200 calories each.


Photo Courtesy of Flickr user mary.w.e

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