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5 Holiday Food Swaps

You won’t even notice you’re eating fewer calories.

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Your diet doesn’t have to get in the way of your holiday cheer. Instead, pick and choose the healthier, but still tasty, options at all of this season’s gatherings. Are mashed potatoes better than green bean casserole? Should you pass on Grandma’s pumpkin pie and opt for the cheesecake? Find out how your favorites stack up.

Red or White Wine?

2 / 6 Red or White Wine?

Toasting the holidays? Reach for the red. A 5-ounce glass of white has almost the same number of calories as a typical glass of red, but the health benefits of red outweigh the white.

A glass of red wine helps reduce your risk of heart problems, can be good for your skin and is loaded with antioxidants. Just remember, the benefits come when you drink in moderation, so don’t overdo this tasty tipple.

Mixed Nuts or Chex Mix?

3 / 6 Mixed Nuts or Chex Mix?

For a pre-dinner or party snack, do you reach for snack mix or mixed nuts? Calorie-wise, a half-cup of snack mix has just 120 calories. On the other hand, a half-cup of dry roasted nuts has 407 calories. So which should you choose? Although higher in calories, the roasted nuts may actually promote weight loss. 

Nuts are loaded with healthy fats and protein, which keep you satisfied and help prevent overeating the more unhealthy sides and desserts. Just don’t overdo it—an ounce of walnuts, about 14 halves, contains 185 calories.

Green Bean Casserole or Mashed Potatoes?

4 / 6 Green Bean Casserole or Mashed Potatoes?

Torn between these traditional sides? Add a little green to your plate with your favorite aunt’s green bean casserole. This holiday staple is surprisingly healthy, even with those fried onions. Per cup, this casserole contains about 143 calories.

Traditional mashed potatoes contain about 238 calories, not to mention the extra sodium. If you’re still craving carbs, whip up a dish of mashed cauliflower.

Baked Ham or Roasted Turkey?

5 / 6 Baked Ham or Roasted Turkey?

Got a choice of main dishes on your holiday buffet? Gobble up the skinless, roasted turkey. One serving has about 190 calories, that’s 155 fewer calories than the same serving of baked ham.

Plus, you’ll miss out on extra sodium. A typical 4-ounce serving of baked ham contains 1,200 mg of sodium, that’s more than half the daily recommend intake. Four ounces of roasted turkey, sans skin, contains just 60 mg of the salty stuff.

Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake?

6 / 6 Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake?

There’s no need to deny your sweet tooth, just be smart about your dessert choices. If you’re deciding between good ol’ pumpkin pie and pumpkin-style cheesecake, the traditional dessert is the better bet.

A slice of pumpkin pie contains 316 calories. The cheesecake will run you about 740 calories, plus more fat and sodium. If you still haven’t gotten your pumpkin fix, try whipping up one of these guilt-free seasonal recipes.

more from this guide

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Healthy Holiday Dessert Recipes
6 Diabetes-Friendly Holiday Desserts
5 Holiday Eating Dilemmas, Solved