Naughty or Nice: 7 Nutrition Choices to Keep You on the Right List this Holiday
By Alyssa Kessl, RDN, LD, Expert Dietitian
The holidays are coming upon us fast, and there is no doubt this time of year calls for celebrations, indulgences, and relaxation. While these are all positive things, this time of year gives my clients the most anxiety. I hear it often from them: it can feel next to impossible to stay on track with their health and nutrition during the holidays.
As a registered dietitian, my most helpful advice is to go into each day with a plan, and to focus on portion control when it comes to your favorite holiday dishes. Most importantly, try not to feel overwhelmed; Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just one day each, not an entire season!
To help you ensure you stay on Santa’s Nice List this year, I’ve compiled 7 naughty-to-nice suggestions:
Naughty: dips made with sour cream
Nice: Dips made with greek yogurt
Skip the sour cream or creamy ranch dip this year, and make a plain, low-fat ranch dip from greek yogurt instead. Greek yogurt is a good source of protein and can help keep you full longer during your meals. You’ll even reduce the calories and saturated fat of your dip – a win all around!
Naughty: cheese balls
Nice: homemade hummus
Most traditional dips and cheese balls are paired with carbohydrate snacks like white flour crackers or pretzels, but these carbs add up quickly. Swap out the dip for homemade roasted garlic hummus from garbanzo beans, and pair it with fresh veggies for a healthy alternative.
Naughty: mashed potatoes
Nice: cauliflower mashed potatoes
I’m sure you’ve heard all about the recent cauliflower trends – they are very popular these days! If you’re ready to give it a go, this holiday season is the perfect time to substitute your traditional mashed potatoes with a low-carbohydrate, low-calorie mashed potato cauliflower recipe.
Naughty: candied yams
Nice: roasted sweet potatoes
Yams and sweet potatoes are already naturally sweet (even the name hints at it). Instead of soaking this starchy potato with honey, syrup, or sugar, bring out the natural sweetness by roasting them in the oven. You can even play with a mixture of fresh herbs and spices for added flavor! This garlic-herb roasted sweet potato with parmesan is a great recipe to try this season.
Naughty: green bean casserole
Nice: fresh green beans with walnuts and balsamic
Green bean casserole is one of the most popular side dishes for the holidays. Unfortunately, this is another already-delicious vegetable that we tend to add unnecessary fats and carbohydrates to. Instead of pouring on french-fried onions or cans of cream of mushroom soup, opt for sauteing instead. Sauteing green beans gives them a naturally crunch taste, and you can add to that with a healthy fat like almonds or walnuts. Try out this green beans with walnuts and balsamic recipe as one of your main side dishes!
Naughty: apple pie
Nice: apple crisp with no added sugar
We all love dessert after our favorite holiday meals. This year, try challenging yourself and loved ones to picking a dessert with fewer calories and far less sugar. Most pies are packed with more than 400 calories, but if you opt for a very small slice without the crust, you can save about 150 calories per slice. Or, take a stab at this grain-free apple crisp recipe with no added sugar!
Naughty: store-bought eggnog
Nice: homemade dairy-free eggnog
Did you know a single cup of eggnog contains about 340 calories and 19 grams of fat? (And that’s before you add in the alcohol!) For a healthier version, try this dairy-free eggnog recipe with almond and coconut milk that is as delicious and creamy with no refined sugar!
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