In my many years of experience as a Registered Dietitian, I have realized that the holidays mean weight gain for some people. While it is true that you might gain weight during the holidays if you are not careful, some healthy foods swaps can turn highly caloric foods into tasty but with more appropriate calorie content.
One of the most typical weight loss problems is the availability of seasonal products. I mean, not every day do we have pumpkin pie or eggnog. This creates a sense of restriction. Your brain thinks this is the only time you can have it in the year, so you might as well stock up.
Remember that you can have the foods you want anytime throughout the year. The problem with some foods relies on the quantity and frequency in which you have them.
A way to keep yourself on the right path during the holidays is to modify certain recipes to make them delicious but more nutritious and less caloric. Here, we’ll go over 5 food swaps you can try this holiday to prevent significant weight gain.
How To Use The Healthy Food Swaps During the Holidays
The food swaps I mention below are things you can do to modify recipes. Analyze which ingredients you are willing to adjust and which ones are non-negotiable.
The point of modifying recipes is to make the same dish but with a different nutritional value. In the end, even if you swap all the ingredients and make this perfect low-calorie meal but you don’t like it, then what is the point?
Remember that a balanced meal can have some foods high in calories (like butter).Again, the problem relies upon the quantity and the frequency.
5 Healthy Foods Swaps
1. Cauliflower vs. Mashed Potatoes
Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes? They are creamy, buttery, and just a spoonful of goodness. However, they are high in simple carbs and butter, a dangerous combination that can create high sugar levels and promote weight gain.
Next time, instead of having mashed potatoes switch them to mashed cauliflower. You can still add some butter (or ghee) to the mix, but by replacing the potatoes, which are high in carbs and low in calories, you can create a lower-calorie dish.
In the end, this allows you to save your carbs for another dish instead of the mashed potatoes.
Now, if you are not a big fan of making cauliflower mashed potatoes, you can mix them up. Try having half the mashed cauliflower recipe with half the regular mashed potatoes. Again, this can be a better option since it can reduce the calories by half.
Also Read: Cauliflower Frittata Recipe
2. Greek Yogurt vs. Sour Cream
Sour cream is an excellent addition to many meals. For example, you can have it on top of a baked potato. However, sour cream is high in calories and high in saturated fats. Those you want to consume in moderation since they might increase the risk of heart disease.
Instead of having sour cream try replacing it with Greek yogurt. They have a similar consistency and taste. But Greek yogurt is lower in calories and higher in protein. Protein can help increase your fullness levels allowing you to reduce the portions, and it can slightly boost your metabolism.
3. Zucchini Noodles vs. Pasta
Chicken soup or a pasta dish is always something you can find over the holidays, especially in cold weather. Replacing the noodles with zucchini (or spaghetti squash noodles) can help you reduce your carb intake and increase your nutrient intake.
It can also greatly aid those following a ketogenic diet or those following a gluten-free diet. Either way, it can help you save some calories and carbs.
4. Medjool Dates vs. Sugar
The best way to reduce sugar intake is to replace it with nature’s natural sweetener, dates. Medjool dates are an excellent way to reduce your simple sugar intake. They have a caramel flavor that will add flavor to your favorite sweet recipes.
One of the benefits of dates is that since they are high in fiber, they won’t spike your sugar levels.
You can even make a caramel sauce using dates. The process is simple.
Boil the dates for 10-15 minutes. Add the dates and a couple of tablespoons of the water you cook them into a food processor. Add some coconut oil and vanilla. Make sure to avoid cooking them hot. Otherwise, they might explode. You can add more water if you want a more liquid consistency.
5. Baked Apple vs. Apple Pie
Finally, baked goods are a great way of reducing the oil or sugar content.
For example, instead of having apple pie high in sugar and fat, opt for baked apples. Add some sugar sweetener like stevia or monk fruit, some cinnamon, and vanilla, and you have a delicious treat that is lower in calories.
You can also add some oatmeal on top to have a crunchy texture.
What About Exercise?
Now, we’ve talked a lot about food, but what about exercise?
One of the most common things during the holidays is that people tend to be more sedentary. So, if we mix a sedentary lifestyle with more food, that is where we see an increase in weight.
That said, besides making changes in your food, you can also change your activity.
For example, instead of making the holidays revolve around food, make them about something else. You can take a traditional family hike, scavenger hunt, or create ornaments with the entire family. Anything is valid as long as it doesn’t involve food.
The Bottom Line
The holidays are a time to spend with family; in most cases, it is food centered. This can lead to overconsumption of high-caloric foods, which increases the risk of weight gain.
On top of that, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, it can only make things worse. So, instead of making the holidays revolve around food, create memorable moments with your family that involves some exercise or movement.