Six Easy Ways to Cut Calories During the Holidays

Six Easy Ways to Cut Calories During the Holidays

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We’re guessing the turkey won’t be the only thing that’s stuffed at this year's holiday dinner table. The holidays are notoriously tied to overeating. It’s understandable. With heaps of delicious, calorie-laden foods at your fingertips, it’s hard to resist.

Still, if you don’t want to sew elastic bands into your pants come January, follow these six simple tips to eat healthy this season:

  1. Start with a veggie and hummus appetizer. Before dinner, fill up on fiber-rich veggies. Nosh on carrots, bell peppers and celery instead of fried foods and cheeses. Dip them into a flavorful hummus and you’ll have a tasty and healthy appetizer.
  2. Stick with turkey. A munch leaner choice than ham or beef tenderloin, choosing white, skinless turkey breasts over dark meat can save you about 50 calories per serving. 
  3. Choose sweet potatoes, not buttery mashed potatoes. A great source of calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are also low in calories (just 140 per 1½ cups of shredded potatoes). Instead of diving head-first into a bowl of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes, try a scoop of roasted sweet potatoes with a dash of cinnamon.
  4. Steer clear of stuffing. Crave carbs? Enjoy a whole-wheat dinner roll instead of all that stuffing to save yourself over 300 calories.
  5. Drink red wine or a white wine spritzer. Red wine has less sugar and more minerals than white wine, making it a better option. If you prefer a sweeter white wine, try adding some soda or sparkling water to make a spritzer. It’s a great way to limit your alcohol intake and your calories.
  6. Treat your sweet tooth with pumpkin pie. If you have a choice, pumpkin pie is your best bet for dessert. At just around 300 calories a slice, it’s a slimmer choice compared to apple and pecan pie.

You might not always be able to stick to your diet (or even these tips) during the holidays. That's OK. If do you indulge in higher calorie foods, practice portion control. Eat small servings and don’t go back for seconds.

If you overdo it, forgive yourself, then climb back on the horse the next day. The most important thing to focus on during the holidays is spending quality time with your family and friends – even if it means finding ways to cope with your family dynamics.

Sources: 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020; The Best (and Worst) Thanksgiving Foods for Your Health, leaving site icon Healthline, 2021

Originally published 8/10/2014: Revised 2017, 2020, 2022