Opt for healthy food alternatives this holiday season so you can avoid weight gain and maintain lean muscle mass.
9 Healthy Food Alternatives for the Holiday Season
1. Dark Meat Turkey vs White Meat Turkey
No holiday menu is complete without a delicious plate of your signature turkey, but what kind of turkey meat is a healthier alternative?
While dark meat turkey is better in terms of flavor, it also has more fats and calories. White meat turkey has fewer calories and fat, but it isn’t as flavorful.
What you can do is to try healthy holiday recipes that’ll bring out white meat turkey’s taste. By using the right herbs and spices, you can still make a delicious turkey dish without packing on too many fats and calories.
Tip: If you can’t resist the goodness of dark meat turkey, simply eat a smaller portion of it. The difference between the two isn’t really that high.
Either way, both dark and white meat turkey have fewer calories than most red meat dishes.
2. Full-Fat Dips vs Greek Yogurt
Instead of dipping your favorite holiday appetizers in calorie-packed dips, opt to use food alternatives such as Greek yogurt instead.
You may not think much of it, but these dips can really add on to the calories you consume at holiday dinner parties. In fact, an ounce of full-fat sour cream already has 60 calories.
If you dip every single chicken wing you eat in it, you’ll end up eating around 300 calories worth of sour cream alone. Meanwhile, Greek yogurt only has 15 to 20 calories per ounce.
3. Candied Yams vs Sweet Potatoes
Many families pair their holiday meals with a cup or two of candied yams. These delicious, bite-sized treats are a staple at holiday dinner parties.
While they may taste good, keep in mind that this side dish has a whopping calorie content of over 400 per cup. Put that on top of the other calories you’re consuming, and you’ll easily reach more than 2,000 calories in just one night.
If you don’t want the extra fats and calories, then try healthy food substitutions such as sweet potatoes. They may not taste as sweet, but each cup only has around 100 calories.
Not only do you get more servings for fewer calories, but you also get the vitamins and minerals sweet potatoes offer. Plus, you don’t really need to overload your palate with an abundance of flavors.
Tip: If you want to bring out this food’s natural sweetness, try roasting them with olive oil. That way, you don’t need to use as many sweeteners to enhance its flavor.
4. Store-Bought Stuffing vs Homemade Stuffing
No holiday menu is complete without a piping-hot batch of bread stuffing. Most people get pre-packaged, easy-to-cook stuffing at their local grocery store to save on prep time.
While it may taste good, store-bought stuffing also contains heaps of calories. From oversized butter cubes to carb-packed white bread, pre-packaged stuffing has a lot of unhealthy ingredients in it.
If you don’t want to gain weight this holiday season, opt to make your own stuffing instead. There are plenty of healthy food ideas you can take inspiration from.
Try using veggies, whole-wheat bread, and canola oil as your main ingredients to tone down your meal’s calorie content.
5. Gravy vs Cranberry Sauce
If you want to cut back on unnecessary carbs, fats, and sugars this holiday season, choose gravy over cranberry sauce. Gravy has fewer calories and sugar than most cranberry sauce recipes.
Also, make sure to use low-fat gravy. While lower than cranberry sauce, traditional gravy still contains a lot of calories and fat-drippings.
To make things easier, opt to make your own batch of gravy using low-fat ingredients instead of buying it from the store.
Tip: Don’t drown your food in gravy. Simply dip your food in the gravy. Holiday meals have enough calories on their own so you wouldn’t want to add any more to it.
6. Casserole vs Fresh Green Beans
You have enough fat, calories, and dairy on your holiday menu. There’s no need to add a dish of calorie-packed casserole.
Instead, try healthy food options such as fresh green beans. Not only do they have fewer calories, but green beans contain loads of essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to sustain muscle growth.
It’s the perfect palate cleanser you need to wash away the grease and fats from your other holiday foods.
7. Wine vs Cocktail Drinks and Beer
You’re bound to have a few drinks this holiday season. Before you start swigging pints of beer and glasses of cocktail mixes, keep in mind that these contain nothing but empty calories.
Instead of the usual cocktail drinks and beer, opt for a few glasses of red or white wine. Apart from having fewer calories, it’s generally better for your overall health.
Caution: This does not give you a free pass to binge drink. Wine may have fewer calories, but you should still consume it in moderation.
Squeeze in a few glasses of water every now and then to stay sober. Plus, it’ll fill you with liquids so you don’t consume as many alcoholic beverages.
8. Eggnog vs Hot Apple Cider
On cold, winter nights, nothing beats a piping hot mug of eggnog. The only downside is it contains a lot of calories and fat —a single glass can easily exceed 250 calories.
Instead of the conventional, calorie-packed holiday drink, opt for a cup of hot apple cider vinegar instead. It only has 100 calories and doesn’t contain nearly as much fat as eggnog does.
Tip: If you can’t resist drinking eggnog, try using low-fat ingredients instead. Also, cut out the alcohol so you don’t add to its calorie content.
9. Pecan Pie vs Pumpkin Pie
The holiday season is like a battlefield for your aunts and mom to show off their best pie recipes. If you don’t want to pack on some unnecessary fat over the holidays, you should mind what desserts you eat.
While pecan pie offers much more flavor, it also has almost twice the amount of calories that pumpkin pie does. In fact, a slice of pecan pie has a whopping calorie content of over 500.
Meanwhile, a slice of pumpkin pie only ranges at around 250 calories.
Tip: Whether you choose to eat pumpkin or pecan pie, opt to skip the crust. That alone already has more than 100 calories. Plus, it contains a large portion of the pie’s fat content.
Try our muscle-building pumpkin spice protein shake this holiday season:
These are just some of the healthy holiday food swaps you can try. Feel free to explore other delicious options you and your family might like.
Overall, the key to avoiding weight gain is to use healthy food alternatives and stick to your workout plan. No matter what the occasion is, try to squeeze in a few minutes of intense cardio moves every now and then to burn the holiday fat.
What are your go-to healthy food alternatives? Share your favorite recipes with us in the comments section below!