Healthy Holiday Tips and Ingredient Substitutions

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year spent with family (though this year may be a bit different), and let’s face it, a lot of food! You do not need to give up on all of your healthy habits during the holiday season. Instead, try some of these tips:


  1. Be realistic. Instead of trying to lose weight during the holidays, just focus on keeping your current weight where it is.
  2. Make time to be active. Not only does it reduce holiday stress, it can prevent weight gain. Try to walk for 10-15 minutes two times a day.
  3. Don’t skip meals. Try eating a light snack such as a piece of fruit or raw veggies to help curb your appetite before going to the party.  It can help you not over-eat.
  4. Check out the party food before filling up your plate. Only add your favorite foods and skip your least favorite foods. Include fruits and veggies to keep a healthy plate.
  5. Eat until you are almost full, not stuffed. Enjoy your favorite holiday treats in smaller amounts.
  6. If you eat too much at one meal try to eat less the next meal. It takes only 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal eating to gain one pound.
  7. Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lead to not-so-good choices and may lead to eating too much. Non-alcoholic drinks like juice and soda can be full of calories and sugar. Instead of soda and sugary drinks, try seltzer water or club soda with a splash of juice or some fresh fruit!
  8. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-food projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations, or a gingerbread house. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games, or going on a walk to look at decorated homes.
  9. Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday get-together. That way you know there is at least one dish you can eat without feeling guilty.
  10. Practice healthy holiday cooking. Making favorite dishes lower in fat, calories, or sugar will help promote healthy holiday eating. Incorporate some of the healthy substitution tips in your holiday recipes to make them healthier.

-Tips from Greta Macaire, R.D. Sutter Health CPMC


You can also make your favorite holiday recipes a little healthier with these simple substitutions.


For This Ingredient…        Substitute With…
Sugar Use 1/2 of the amount
Eggs 2 Egg Whites per Egg
White Flour 1/2 Whole Wheat Flour 1/2 White Flour
White bread/rolls Whole Wheat or Sprouted Bread
Creamed Vegetables Steamed Vegetables
White Rice Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Quinoa, or Pearl Barley
Mashed Potatoes Mashed Cauliflower or Mashed Sweet Potato
Enriched Pasta Whole Wheat Pasta or Spaghetti Squash
Sour Cream Non-fat Plain Greek Yogurt, Reduced-fat or Non-fat Sour Cream
Oil/Butter for Baking Applesauce
Whipping Cream Evaporated Milk


For some healthy and delicious holiday recipes, click here!