Healthier Holiday Swaps

Healthier Holiday Swaps

Publish Date September 15, 2023 2 Minute Read
Author Kroger Health Registered Dietitians

With the holiday season comes an abundance of delicious food. Holiday menus are a favorite for many, but sometimes can lead to overindulgence and a few unwanted pounds. More than ever it’s important to keep health in check. Good news, this can absolutely be accomplished while enjoying favorite holiday dishes. Consider making some simple swaps to reduce sodium, sugar, fat, and calories, leading to a healthier holiday season.

Sodium Substitutes

Sodium intake can quickly add up during holiday feasts with all the sauces, gravies, and savory side dishes on the table. Many of which are seasoned with sodium-heavy spice blends, broths, and condensed soups. To reduce sodium, swap out original condensed soup in casseroles for a reduced-sodium variety. Also, choose low-sodium chicken broth in place of regular broth, and season dishes with fresh herbs and spices rather than prepared seasoning mixes. If you want to use a spice blend, make sure it’s salt free. This is an easy way to pack in more flavor with less sodium overall.

Shake Down Sugar

Skip the high fructose corn syrup in canned cranberry sauce this year and swap in fresh cranberries instead. Using fresh cranberries in place of canned varieties can greatly reduce added sugar intake. For stuffing and other grain dishes, swap white bread with whole grain bread, as this provides heart healthy fiber that can reduce blood sugar spikes and help prolong fullness. Another option to simplify your meal and reduce calories is to serve brown or wild rice with tons of vegetables instead of stuffing. Finally, skip the buttery, marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole and serve roasted cubed sweet potatoes dusted with cinnamon for a lower sugar dish.

Lower Fat and Calories

Maybe comfort foods can be more comforting when they aren’t loaded with calories and fat. To lighten them up without sacrificing taste, try plain nonfat Greek yogurt when recipes call for sour cream. Another great calorie- and fat-reducing tip is to use 2% milk in place of heavy cream. Two percent milk is reduced fat – but not low fat – so it still gives that creamy texture while reducing calories and fat by 85% to 90% versus using heavy cream. Try using this swap to make a lighter version of a holiday favorite like eggnog. You can even use oat milk for a plant-based alternative. For much lower calorie options, skip the casseroles and creamy dishes and serve roasted, sauteed or steamed vegetables such as potatoes and green beans instead. Choose white meat turkey over dark this Thanksgiving and roast a chicken for Christmas rather than ham to save on fat and calories.

Alcohol Alternatives

Making a celebratory toast or two is a joyous holiday activity! Sadly, adult beverages can quickly cause calories and sugar to skyrocket. Remember to enjoy alcoholic drinks in moderation; try alternating one drink with one glass of water. Choose diet soda or seltzer water for mixers rather than premade sugary mixers. Also, try fresh squeezed juice or 100% fruit juice with no added sugar. There are many delicious mocktails to choose from. We all deserve to fully enjoy the holidays. Just a few simple substitutes can mean big changes in our health during this festive season. Put these swaps into practice for happy and healthy holidays!

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Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

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