Rich food and the holiday season go hand in hand.
But with festivities continuing for days and sometimes weeks, it’s easy for the holiday season to have a detrimental effect on your health and waistline.
This doesn't mean you have to restrict yourself to carrot sticks and water to stay healthy - making a few swaps as you go can help to keep the amount of fat, sugar and salt you eat to a minimum.
Here are 6 healthy holiday food swaps to help you get started.
Candied yams (also known as marshmallow sweet potatoes) are a holiday meal staple. But as the classic recipe involves sweet potato, butter, marshmallows and brown sugar, they can be high in both sugar and fat. A healthier way to enjoy sweet potatoes this festive season is to roast them. Simply brush the sweet potatoes with a little olive oil and bake.
It can be tempting to make mashed potatoes creamier by adding butter, cheese and cream, but doing so will raise the fat content. Keep your mashed potatoes as healthy as possible by making them with a dash of milk and butter. You can cut the fat content further by using 2% (semi-skimmed) milk instead of full-fat milk.
Did you know that shop-bought cranberry sauce often contains added sugar? Not only is sugar a source of empty calories, but it can encourage overeating by increasing levels of the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin while decreasing levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone peptide YY (PYY). Minimise the sugar in your cranberry sauce by making it yourself.
If you usually make your stuffing with sausage meat or a packet mix, it’s likely to be quite high in salt. You can reduce the salt content by trying a vegetarian version using chestnuts, onion, herbs and rice. If you like to add breadcrumbs to help hold the mixture together, opt for a low-salt wholemeal bread.
The combination of alcohol, eggs, sugar and milk may make eggnog tasty, but it also makes it high in fat, sugar and alcohol. Why not try a healthier option by creating a low-sugar and low-fat version? You can do this by either using less sugar or swapping the sugar for a natural sweetener, like stevia. Swap full-fat milk for 2% or 1% milk.
As a low-fat and high-protein food, turkey is a healthy addition to the holiday table. However, its fat content quickly rises if you eat it with the skin on, so why not take it off? You can cut the fat content further by choosing turkey breast instead of leg, as dark turkey meat has approximately twice the fat of turkey breast.
If these seasonal food swaps have inspired you to try and stay healthy this holiday season, take a look at this article on other ways to look after your body this winter.