‘Tis the season for cookie exchanges, holiday parties, and holiday happy hours galore. Many people either give up all health sense, or they believe they have to miss these spirited gatherings all together. What if you don’t have to do either by simply making a few healthy switcheroos, so you can still partake in the festivities, but not throw all healthy inhibitions to the wind? Check out some alternatives to the usual holiday grub and spirits.
Holiday Treats and Sweets
Creamy Dips – These are usually out on the holiday spread with the intention of being at least one healthy food on the platter. However, even when going for the “lighter” and nutritious option, creamy dips are typically right in the middle. Switching out that dip for hummus instead will save you fat and calories, while also adding fiber and more nutrition from the bean-based dip. If you are the host and have a fantastic creamy dip, add both options and substitute the sour cream and/or mayo base with non-fat Greek yogurt instead to lower the fat and calories and add protein.
Oils – Speaking of Greek yogurt, you can use it as a healthier substitute in more than just creamy dips. Try using it in place of vegetable oil in your cookies, cakes and other baked goods’ recipes. Substituting ¼ cup of Greek yogurt for every 1/3 cup of oil in baking can save you about 100 calories.
Cheese – That cheese ball spread covered in sliced almonds always seems to make an appearance at the holidays, and while it seems so innocent to grab a glob, it is densely packed with fat and calories – there’s more than just pure cheese in there! Instead, grab 4 cheese cubes with a couple of crackers, and you’ll still be at about half the fat and calories.
Cocktail Meat – Swedish meatballs seem to be the small-plate meat choice, but go for grilled chicken skewers to save 100+ calories and the fat, or cocktail shrimp set out on ice.
Cookies – Ok, yes, this is definitely a holiday staple, and no, you don’t have to pass on all. However, choose one or two cookies that are most appealing to you during this time, a holiday special, and then leave it at that – you do not have to try every single kind. If you are hosting, put out some meringue cookies – made simply with egg whites and sugar – on the platter so you and your guests have lower calorie and fat options.
Holiday Spritzer – We all love sparkly things around the holidays, including beverages, however, calories and sugar in champagne and other sparkling wines can add up. Instead, fill your glass two-thirds full with seltzer water and the last third with your wine of choice.
Eggnogg – This little seasonal creamy drink is laden with fat and calories, and that’s not including any alcohol added. Made from cream and egg yolks, you really don’t want to be reaching for it, but if you have been waiting all 365 days since last Christmas for a taste, go for light eggnog using milk instead with about half the calories.
Hot Buttered Rum – Rather than going for this buttered hot beverage, seek out a hot spiced cider with a shot of rum for less calories and fat, and still seasonal and tasty.
Charge UP Health | Fitness
Rena Roark, CHC, CPFT, is a Certified Health Coach and Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and owner of Charge Up Health and Fitness, LLC. She works with individuals and group clients as a health and fitness coach to offer support and guidance for their health goals through a holistic look at their lives, helping to find balance between exercise, diet, career, and relationships. Providing accountability and motivation, she can help reduce stress, increase energy and self-confidence, and ultimately help individuals work towards the best version of them.
Please be aware that this article is not a diagnosis, prescription or recommendation for any individual. Before starting food and/or exercise programs, or using any vitamin or supplement, you should always talk it over with your doctor. He or she may have specific recommendations or warnings depending on your health and the other medicines you take.