The winter holiday season is filled with many tummy-filling, high-calorie and fat-packed indulgences: eggnog, stuffed croissants, Christmas cookies, creamy party dips, potato pancakes, hot buttered rum, Yule log, candied yams… the list of unhealthy holiday food goes on and on.
Scarfing down these holiday treats may feel good when you’re in the moment, but you’ll pay for it later. Not only can overindulging in holiday fare cause weight gain, it can also send your blood sugar levels into the stratosphere!
We’ve put together a helpful guide that details which foods to avoid during the holiday as well as healthier alternatives that you and your family can indulge in! Here are our top tips…
Ditch the thick, creamy dessert-like punch.
Drinks like eggnog and hot buttered rum are choked with sugar, eggs, whipping cream, and ice cream—which means cholesterol, fat and unwanted calories. One cup of eggnog has a whopping 343 calories and 150 mg of cholesterol! When you’re faced with beverage options at the holiday food table, opt for spiced cider or light hot cocoa. These two drinks have far less sugar, fat and cholesterol.
Avoid Yule log, cheesecake and full-fat cookies.
One serving of any of these sweet treats comprises almost half of your recommended daily caloric intake! Plus, these unhealthy desserts contain double the daily amount of sugar recommended by the American Heart Association. Instead, make our Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake, which contains zero cholesterol and is fortified with extra protein and fiber (from unlikely ingredients!).
Skip the prime rib.
Traditional prime rib tips the scales at a whopping 48 grams of total fat and more than 550 calories. Turkey is a healthier alternative and is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B, zinc and potassium. To shave off calories, stick with white meat turkey and peel the skin off.
Make quinoa-based dishes.
Instead of making candied yams or another high-fat, high-calorie side dish, prepare quinoa for the family holiday dinner. It’s packed with protein, iron and vitamin B. Quinoa has recently exploded in popularity because it’s gluten-free, quick to prepare (15 minutes) and has a yummy, nutty taste. Quinoa is so versatile, you can add virtually any vegetable or spice to the grain to amp up its flavor.
Add barley grains to a holiday meal.
Barley when making soups, stews and casseroles! This grain has more fiber than any other grain. Fiber helps you feel full longer, which helps many people manage their snacking and meal portions. Barley helps reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and controls blood sugar—a great benefit to people with prediabetes. Though it takes a while to prepare (about an hour), eating barley can help reduce your waistline and your risk for coronary disease. You can even try it in bread, porridge or cookies!
Bring oatmeal cookies to a holiday potluck.
Oats are an excellent source of whole grains. Oats are known to reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol, heart disease, blood pressure and the risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. A good source of protein and fiber, eating oats for breakfast is a great way to feel full throughout the morning and limit your need to snack.
Traditionally, oats take a long time to cook, but they can be purchased flattened and steamed as rolled oats, quick oats, instant oats and steel-cut oats to make cooking time faster. Unlike other grains, these processed oats still contain most of their nutritional value.
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