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7 Tips For Healthy Holiday Eats

Slip on your skinny jeans and dive into your favorite holiday foods. 

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By Taylor Lupo

We get it—the holidays only come once a year, but that doesn’t mean you have to blow your healthy lifestyle. We’ve got the tips and tricks for minding your manners and your waistline. So, deck the halls, stuff the turkey and spread some cheer, without ditching your diet. All it takes is a little bit of discipline—and some pumpkin pie.

Ready to get cooking? Give these festive recipes a try

Sip Responsibly

2 / 8 Sip Responsibly

It can be surprising how many calories you’re able to sip through a cocktail straw. A single white Russian, a combination of 1 ounce of vodka, 1 ounce of Kahlua and 1 ounce of heavy cream, will run you about 255 calories. Alcohol doesn’t have to be off-limits, but moderation and healthy choices are key. Moderate drinking—one cocktail a day for women and two for men—may even improve cardiovascular health. Of course, any possible heart benefits may be outweighed by other risks, like an increased risk of cancer.

Here’s how to play it safe:

  • Alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water
  • Limit yourself to one drink per hour
  • Mind the calories in each cocktail—and keep track of how many you sip

Before you belly up to the bar, check out some of Sharecare’s healthy holiday cocktails.

Navigate The Snacks

3 / 8 Navigate The Snacks

Cocktail hour comes with a higher caloric price tag than you might think. Finger foods, often high in sodium, calories and fat, can be especially dangerous. And it can be hard to remember just how much you ate! But if you eat smarter, you don’t have to deprive yourself.

Before you pick up a plate, scope out the buffet and set your sights on the foods you actually want. When you find your favorite foods, grab the smallest plate. This forces you to be strategic about the food you’re choosing.

If you’re worried about the spread, offer to bring an easy dish to your next shindig. One serving of Cajun deviled eggs—half of one boiled egg—contains just 50 calories.

Load Up On Lean Meats

4 / 8 Load Up On Lean Meats

Not all holiday eats are unhealthy. In fact, turkey is quite good for you. Lean, white meat turkey breast contains about 30 calories and five grams of protein per ounce. Drowning your turkey in high-fat and calorie-dense gravy, however, can zap the nutritional value.

Save calories, fat and sodium by swapping fatty pan drippings for low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth in your gravy. Chicken broth contains just 38 calories, less than one gram of saturated fat and 70 milligrams of sodium per cup.  

Lighten Traditional Dishes

5 / 8 Lighten Traditional Dishes

Green bean casserole is a long-standing favorite around many holiday tables, but it’s traditionally made with cream of mushroom soup, which contains 18 grams of fat, 258 calories and 1,955 milligrams of sodium per 10-ounce can.

Lighten the load of the dish by skipping the soup. Instead, steam green beans, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite spices. If you’re looking for a little crunch and a boost of fiber, toss in some sliced almonds and enjoy!

Eat Seasonally

6 / 8 Eat Seasonally

Seasonal fruits and veggies, like pumpkin, squash and cranberries, are high in nutrients and loaded with health benefits, when they’re not topped with bad-for-you ingredients.

Sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows contain 20 grams of sugar and 180 calories per half cup serving of each. You can still enjoy the same sweet puree without the sugar or calories.

  • Halve and bake a butternut squash until tender
  • Mash and top with a sprinkle of sea salt, a drizzle of honey and a few pomegranate seeds

You’ll cut sugar and calories by more than half.   

Enjoy Your Favorites

7 / 8 Enjoy Your Favorites

You don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite holiday dishes. There are ways to sate your desire for your favorites, without busting the button on your jeans.

Avoid calorie bombs like canned cranberry sauce, which contains 86 calories and 22 grams of sugar per half inch-thick slice; replace your traditional stuffing with a mix of wild rice and veggies to save calories and add nutrients.  

Don't Forget Dessert

8 / 8 Don't Forget Dessert

A ‘treat yourself’ moment is acceptable—and even encouraged—during the holidays. What’s less acceptable? Digging into dessert every night between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Help yourself to a small slice of pie, and even slash calories and fat by eat the filling and leaving the pie crust behind. This sneaky tip saves 75 calories and five grams of fat.

Traditional holiday pies don’t get your taste buds doing back flips? Try other Sharecare-approved desserts like brownies, cookies and trifle—just don’t overdo it!

Scarf down even more (healthy) holiday eats.

more from this guide

Healthy Holiday Dessert Recipes
5 Holiday Eating Dilemmas, Solved
8 Holiday Side Dishes That Won’t Derail Your Diet
Festive and Guilt-Free—8 Holiday Cocktails to Try