Holiday Health Substitutions: Healthy Ways to Make Your Favorite Holiday Dishes


The average American gains between one and two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Help keep off some of that weight with these lighter holiday options!

Low-Fat Dips
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Instead of dipping your veggies in sour cream, ranch, or other dips high in saturated fat, try a few lighter options. Greek Yogurt-based dips, non-fat sour creams, and other homemade options can save you lots of calories in the long run! On average, a nonfat dip will save you 40-50 calories per bite. Perfect for snacking on otherwise healthy veggies before a nice, holiday meal.

Cut Back, Responsibly

Champagne, beer, and wine can be high in calories. Splitting wine half and half with club soda can cut down on 60 calories per drink! Cutting back on just one or two drinks per day can help you justify that extra piece of pumpkin pie or whipped cream on top. Plus, the fizzy taste of club soda can add an extra punch to that concoction of yours.

Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have a smattering of crucial vitamins and minerals, like fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and other health benefits. If you can help it, avoid adding them to a sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie: mixing them with some spices and oil and roasting them in the oven can be just as good. If you do opt for the sweet potato casserole, however, try skipping the marshmallows. Not all pies and dishes have to be sweet, you know?

Mashed Potato Substitutions

This is another potato solution. For a lower-carb, less starchy version of a holiday favorite, try switching out cauliflower for the red potatoes in your next batch of mashed potatoes. Not ready to give up the potatoes just yet? Try throwing in skim milk, low-fat sour cream, and margarine into your vegetables instead of the full-fat version. Or, skip mashed potatoes altogether and try roasted potatoes instead.

White or Dark Meat

This Thanksgiving skip the dark turkey meat in favor of the white meat version. Changing to white meat turkey will save you around 120 calories per serving, meaning you can fit more turkey (or make healthier choices.) If you decide giving up dark meat turkey is just too much for you, consider eating turkey meat without the skin as a healthy alternative.

Skip Store-Bought

It isn’t Thanksgiving without stuffing! For a healthy stuffing alternative, try subbing out cubes of white bread for sautéed cubes of whole-wheat bread, mixed in with some veggies and spices. For an extra-special edition, add unsalted vegetable or chicken broth to the mix, and throw in some of your favorite herbs!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

The canned stuff can have up to 100 calories per quarter cup. This year, slim down and make your own! You can make it as sweet or as savory as you want! Some nutritional experts recommend cutting a fourth or a third of the sugar out in a recipe for a happy medium between sweet sauce and savory side dish.

Choose Your Seasonal Drinks Wisely

Instead of reaching for the eggnog, peppermint mocha, or hot chocolate this season, finish off your holiday meal with a piping hot glass of apple cider. Apple cider is perfect for finishing off a filling holiday meal! It’s lower in saturated fats, calories, and carbohydrates than any other member of this list. Still can’t live without eggnog? Make your own! Homemade eggnog will be lower in calories, sugars, and fat (especially if you skip the alcohol.)

Have a favorite tip on this list? Want to share more diet tips for the holidays? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


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