Healthy eating during the holiday season is a common concern for a lot of people, whether they're concerned about weight loss or over all health. After all, 75 percent of annual weight gain occurs during the holiday season.
If you have clients who are afraid of the scale going up during the holidays, or if they’re worried about setting themselves back on their health and wellness journey, try encouraging them to make healthy swaps instead of forgoing their favorite foods altogether.
Listed below are seven fast and easy healthy holiday swaps you can suggest to your clients:
1. Avocado-Based Dips Instead of Mayo-Based Dips
Mayonnaise-based dips can be a major source of calories, and they seem to pop up everywhere during the holiday season. If your clients are looking for a lower-calorie option that still has plenty of flavor, and that creamy texture you know and love, consider recommending they swap out mayonnaise with mashed avocado.
Avocados are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (instead of the trans fats found in many mayo products), and they’re a great source of fiber. They’re also a great alternative if you want to eliminate animal products (most mayos are made with eggs) and stick to plant-based snacks instead.
2. Wine Spritzers Instead of Wine or Cocktails
Your clients don’t have to abstain completely from alcohol during the holidays. However, they may want to consider swapping out their favorite sugary cocktail or glass of wine for a wine spritzer instead.
To make a wine spritzer, simply combine half a glass of wine (about two ounces) with sparkling water. Your clients can use plain or flavored sparkling water, depending on their preference. This gives them a chance to enjoy the wine they love without all the calories and alcohol.
Adding sparkling water to wine will help them stay hydrated, too. As a result, they’ll feel clearer-headed and will be less likely to wake up with a hangover the next morning.
3. Fresh Veggies Instead of Casseroles
Green bean and sweet potato casseroles are popular holiday staples. They may taste delicious, but they don’t rank very highly on the health meter.
These casseroles are often made with sodium-laden soups (in the case of green bean casserole), butter, and sugar (in the case of the sweet potato casserole).
If your clients want to enjoy similar flavors without a lot of unhealthy ingredients, considering eating roasted sweet potatoes or sauteed green beans instead. These side dishes are much healthier, but they’re close enough to the originals that your clients won’t feel deprived.
4. Coconut Oil Instead of Butter
One easy way for your clients to make almost any dish healthier is to swap out the butter for coconut oil. Coconut oil is a great source of medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs for short). Coconut oil is also a healthy fat that can promote better cognitive health, weight loss, and better cholesterol levels. It’s also a good plant-based alternative for those who want to limit their consumption of animal products.
5. Dark Chocolate Instead of Milk Chocolate
When making a chocolaty dessert — or enjoying some chocolate on its own — your clients should consider switching from milk chocolate to dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is much richer, and a little goes a long way when it comes to satisfying a chocolate craving. It’s also loaded with antioxidants that minimize cellular damage and can improve heart and cognitive health.
If they find the taste of dark chocolate to be too bitter for certain recipes, they can try sweetening it with a touch of maple syrup or honey. These natural sweeteners can make dark chocolate much more palatable.
6. Crackers Instead of Dinner Rolls
Dinner rolls may seem like a holiday staple, but your clients can get a similar taste by swapping them out for some whole wheat or gluten-free crackers.
Crackers will allow them to enjoy that bread taste that everyone wants as part of their holiday meal and they can still serve as a vehicle for other favorite foods, all while being a much lower-calorie option.
Since there are so many tasty gluten-free cracker options these days, they’re also a good alternative for those who avoid eating gluten but don’t want to feel totally left out during the holidays.
7. Pumpkin Pie Over Pecan Pie
That’s right, your clients can still enjoy a slice of pie (or two) during the holiday season without derailing their health or weight loss goals. Instead of eating a slice of pecan pie, which is loaded with sugar and butter, they should consider going for a slice of pumpkin pie instead.
Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A, as well as fiber and iron. Pumpkin pie also tends to be lower in calories and sugar than pecan pie (and other types of pie), especially if your clients go easy on, or omit, the whipped cream.
Start Suggesting These Swaps Today
As you can see, there are a lot of fast and easy healthy swaps you can encourage your clients to try out as the holiday season approaches. These swaps will still allow them to enjoy their favorite holiday flavors without going overboard on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.
Start making these recommendations today and keep your clients on track all through the holidays.
Article Categories: Food & Nutrition Science