Holidays aren’t known for eating healthy. But these healthy food tip swaps will help make your meals more healthful without giving up taste and making you feel like the “weirdo”. Your guests will want to return and thank you for taking the initiative to introduce the topic of being healthy and show them how much you care about them. Many of them want to be healthier but they don’t know where to begin. You could become the leader. Let’s face it, if 1 in 2 people are getting cancer, not to mention other diseases, don’t you want to help your loved ones too?
It’s not the most wonderful time of the year if you’re trying to be healthy and tempted by food choices. The average holiday meal contains over 4,000 calories. Yikes.
A 2016 study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that Americans gained an average of 1.3 pounds during the winter season, and never lose it which is contributing to an obesity epidemic.
Do you think it’s impossible to eat healthy during the holidays? You don’t have to sacrifice your health and it’s not worth it! Here are some excellent healthy holiday food swaps that will help you feel great about your choices.
Healthy Tip #1: Trade Turkey for Meatless Plant Foods
I give. For most of you I wouldn’t even suggest you trade your turkey since it has been the official main since the mid 19th century and you all know the history. So at least you can get free range, organic, antibiotic and hormone free meats, and your beef can be grass fed.
Compared to other meats — such as red meat or processed meats (which the World Health Organization deemed to be “probably carcinogenic”, many people think turkey is healthier or better for them. But the risks of disease still rise with the level of meat intake.
Most turkeys are raised in factories and crowded grow houses. The feed contains antibiotics unless the farm is certified organic and this has led to the rapid development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, that are no longer treatable by any known antibiotic. Campylobacter and Salmonella bacteria are commonly found in the guts and feathers of turkeys.
Thanks to the rise in plant-based eating, a variety of meat-free alternatives are available today. Even though eating less meat is better for your health and the planet, many of these substitutes contain heavily processed ingredients that aren’t healthy (many of which you can’t even pronounce).
The true stars are the side dishes which can be modified to become better for you.
Healthy Tip #2: Mashed Potatoes Without Butter or Cream
Good news: You can have your creamy mashed potatoes at the holidays (or any time!) and make it healthy!
Most mashed potato recipes call for a combination of milk or heavy cream and butter which isn’t good. There is evidence to show that dairy consumption can have digestive and disease issues and connected to cancers.
So swap the milk or cream and butter for plant-based milk or vegetable broth and seasonings and bathe them in plant-based gravy, like mushroom (it’s easy to find recipes for that).
Put half cauliflower in your mashed potatoes for a lighter, healthier version.
Healthy Tip #3: Better Cranberry Sauce with Natural Sweeteners
Cranberry sauce is synonymous with the holidays. Although cranberries have lots of antioxidants, and they provide incredible benefits and fight cancer, it’s what you put with it that’s the problem.
Most sauces at the store contain lots of sugar (1 cup of sugar is 700 added sugar calories) and high-fructose corn syrup from GMO corn. So give your cranberry sauce a new twist by using fewer and better sweeteners such as dates, a healthy dash of orange zest and juice or pineapple, Manuka honey, and spice it up with cinnamon and cloves. It’s not hard to find a great recipe without the sugar and it actually tastes better and has more flavor.
I would also recommend using pure stevia or monk fruit as sweeteners instead of maple syrup, honey, agave, or sugar, as Joel Fuhrman, M.D. says they are not good for your health.
Healthy Tip #4: Go Dairy-Free with Your Pumpkin Pie and Deserts
You all know your history and that pumpkin pie is a popular dessert around the holidays. Native to North America, pumpkins have long been used by the Aztecs and Mayans as medicine and for survival.
For over 2 centuries, the custard-like filling remains about the same: sugar, cream, and a mix of spices). Two of the three aren’t exactly healthy food. So let’s change that. Avoid canned pumpkin pie mixes, which contain large amounts of added sugar and sweeteners. If you’re going to make a pie from scratch, make one with canned pumpkin puree (or make your own). It usually has just one ingredient: pumpkin.
If a recipe calls for evaporated milk, substitute plant-based milk instead. Some recipes may call for sweetened condensed milk. If you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative, try sweetened condensed coconut milk. While it’s still sweetened, it doesn’t come with all the issues of dairy. Best to go with unsweetened, canned coconut milk or coconut cream for a less sweet yet still rich flavor.
The holidays are more than about the food so give thanks and express your gratitude.
Gratitude is good for your physical, emotional, and mental health and the ones around you. Want fewer aches and pains, better sleep, and stronger mental clarity – then express more gratitude.
Before you enjoy your healthier nutritious meal, make time to give thanks to God, others, and the ones around the table and invite your loved ones to join in too since few things are better at bonding than this while enjoying healthy food around the table.