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20 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Updated on March 29, 2013

Holiday Weight Gain

Th average American gains 8-10 pounds over the holidays. This includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. No wonder everyone decides to lose weight for their New Years Resolution. This year, why don't you make a resolution not to gain the holiday weight? It seems to be a lot easier to watch what and how you eat for the two months between Thanksgiving and New Years that to do it for ten months between New Years and Thanksgiving.

Holiday Meal Survival Tips

  1. Don't forget that the holidays are about spending time with friends and family - not the food! Socialize away from the food table and focus on good conversation.
  2. Limit the special foods to the actual holiday instead of all week. Make just enough for the meal and don't bring home any leftovers.
  3. Choose only the foods you really want instead of trying everything that is offered.
  4. Use a smaller plate to avoid over-sized portions.
  5. Do not sit close to the food table. This will help you avoid going back for seconds.
  6. Eat a small balanced snack before you arrive so you will be less likely to over eat.
  7. Don't forget to make time for exercise, even during the holidays. Go for a quick walk after a big meal to offset a little bit of the extra food.
  8. Try to take some of the focus off of food. Instead of making cookies and candy with your loved ones, make wreaths or ornaments.

Meal Makeover Ideas

Slash the Salt!

  • Taste food before you salt it; it might not even need any

Instead of reaching for the salt, try seasoning with:

  • Ground pepper
  • Fresh or dried herbs
  • Lemon of lime juice
  • sodium free seasoning blends
  • Vinegar

Reduce Sugar

  • Cut sugar in recipes by 25%
  • Substitute 1/4 - 1/2 of sugar in recipe with Splenda


  • Try oven bags for a tender turkey without basting, it keeps the moisture in
  • Season the meat of turkey under the skin
  • Choose light meat over dark meat; light meat is lower in calories than dark meat
  • Eat turkey skinless; that is where most of the fat is


  • Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Then skim the fat off.
  • Reheat and serve

*This can save you approximately 500 calories per cup.

Cranberry Sauce

  • Buy the reduced calorie or sugar free versions
  • Substitute the sugar with Splenda in homemade Sauces

Healthier Ingredient Substitutions

Replace This
With This
Or This
Sour Cream
Plain fat-free greek yogurt
Reduced fat sour cream
1% milk
Skim milk
Heavy Cream
Condensed Skim Milk
1:1 ratio of flour whisked into non-fat milk
Whipped Cream
Low fat or non-fat yogurt
Cool Whip
Reduced fat cheese
Non-fat cheese
1 Whole Egg
2 Egg Whites
1/4 cup egg substitute
Fat or oil in baking
Apple sauce
Canned Pumpkin
Fat back or ham hock
Lean turkey bacon
Splenda baking blend
Maples Syrup
Sugar free maple syrup
Light maple syrup
Canned Cream Soups
98% fat free soups


  • Cook with reduced sodium broth
  • Eliminate or reduce butter and oil
  • Choose whole grain breads; it tastes almost exactly the same
  • Make barley or wild rice stuffing
  • Bake stuffing in a pan vs. the bird
  • Use a little less bread and add more vegetables such as onions, garlic and celery

Mashed Potatoes

  • Flavor with low fat broths and spices
  • Use condensed skim milk instead of cream
  • Mash naturally yellow and buttery Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Steam and mash cauliflower, then add to your mashed potatoes. Or just have mashed cauliflower, it tastes a lot like mashed potatoes.


  • Season with low fat broths, turkey bacon, or herds and spices instead of bacon or ham hocks

Will you be using these tips this holiday?

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Candied Yams

  • Sweeten with sugar free maple syrup or brown sugar Splenda
  • Top with mini marshmallows in place of large ones

Green Bean Casserole

  • Use reduced fat, lower sodium soup like Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup instead of regular soup
  • Top with slivered almonds and/or sauteed onions instead of fried onions


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