The holiday season is upon us, AKA “cookie season!” A time of wonderful food, including cookies and snacks that aren’t exactly healthy. Weeks of consuming high sugar, refined cookies can leave you feeling drained of energy and motivation. This year, make a few simple holiday treat swaps that will leave you feeling healthy and satisfied.At Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating we believe that all foods fit into a healthy diet. We promote practicing moderation and portion control to help keep you looking great while not triggering disordered eating patterns, good food vs. bad food thinking, and set you up for a healthy mindset and positivity around food rather than fear. By helping you pick a better choice, we empower you to still enjoy treats during the holiday season, but to choose healthier options and not be tricked into making less healthful choices.
Forgo the Fruitcake and Eat a Cookie Instead
Do not let the word "fruit" fool you, this classic holiday treat isn’t very healthy. Dried fruit and fruit juices are denser in calories and the denser your calories, the more unlikely you are to lose weight. Choosing a simple sugar cookie over a slice of fruitcake will save you 80 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrate. While sugar cookies still do not count as healthy, this swap will save you some calories and carbs and you will likely enjoy it more.
Pick the Right Pie
When it's time for dessert, slice yourself some apple pie, or better yet, pumpkin pie if available this time of year. These options are much lower in calories than the typical pecan pie. In fact, you could save a whopping 175 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates. Forgo the whipped topping and crust to reduce the calories even more!
Dark Chocolate Instead of Candy Canes
While there are plenty of high sugar treats surrounding us during the holidays, try to stick to the healthiest type of sweet -- dark chocolate. Choosing a small serving of dark chocolate over something like a candy cane can save you 20 calories and 8 grams of carbohydrate. Remember the darker, the better. Aim for 60 percent cocoa or higher. And dark chocolate makes a great stocking stuffer too! Dark chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants and has potential heart health benefits. Dark chocolate does contain sugar, but it is less than the other chocolates, and the darker the chocolate usually the lower the sugar content.
No-Bake Truffles Instead of Classic Holiday Cookies
Many no-bake truffle recipes include a base of dried dates for natural sweetness, instead of the traditional combination of milk and sugar, and then get mixed with some cocoa, peanut butter, or coconut. Recipes vary but these simple ingredients can make a delicious and healthy treat that is a much better alternative than cookies made with processed white sugar and white enriched flour.
Biscotti Instead of Coffee Cake
Both of these items are made with flour and sugar, but there are some major differences also. Coffee cake is made with a hefty amount of butter also making it much higher in fat and calories. Consuming a biscotti will save hundreds of calories, plus will add some important nutrients like fiber and protein from almonds.
Swap Appetizers to Avoid Extra Fat and Calories
One of the factors making diet control difficult during the holidays is the abundance of high-calorie, high-fat foods available over the holidays. It is important and necessary to make some simple food swaps that will reduce fat, carbohydrates, and overall calories to maintain good health during the holiday season. Choose vegetables and bean dip rather than chips and a cream-based dip. Fresh fruit platters are also a better choice than appetizers that are breaded and fried. Fresh fruit and vegetables have both high water content and a good amount of fiber which can help you feel full, control blood sugar highs, and provide you with a variety of nutrients.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Watching what you drink is just as important as watching what you eat. Drink lots of water, not only because it is good for you, but it will help fill you up so you eat less. Avoid special holiday cocktails, because they are packed with calories, and too much alcohol could let you loosen up too much to the point where you forget about your diet. It’s estimated that Americans drink 22% of their total calories, much of that from beverages sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Lastly, Snack Right
Do you crave salt instead of sugar? Many of us with salt cravings enjoy salted, mixed nuts over the holiday season. Although they are full of good fat and healthy nutrients, a snack of salted nuts can contain around 800 calories and upwards of 1000 mg of sodium. Instead, choose air-popped popcorn to satisfy the salt craving that you yearn for. Or, better yet, keep on hand nuts that must be shelled, such as walnuts or pistachios and that will satisfy your nut craving while slowing you down with having to shell them yourself.
The goal is to enjoy the holidays and not let food or your weight stress you out. The holiday season isn’t about deprivation or dieting. It’s a time to celebrate with family and friends and enjoy the company and traditional activities. Diets tend to fail more during this time of year than any other time. Statistics show that most adults gain about one pound during the winter holidays. We are not providing rules for restriction and stress over what to eat, we are helping you be prepared with the knowledge to make better choices.
Leave the fruitcake and candy canes for Santa this year and save yourself some unnecessary sugar and calories. It will leave you feeling lighter and more energetic, some things we all need this time of year. Another upside to ditching some of the less healthy treats instead of others is that come January, you won’t be 5 or 10 pounds heavier!
CHECK OUT THE SEATTLE SUTTON BLOG FOR ADDITIONAL HEALTHY EATING TIPS TO KEEP YOUR DIET ON TRACK OVER THE HOLIDAYS. LOOKING FOR A GIFT TO HELP A LOVED ONE KICK THE NEW YEAR OFF TO A HEALTHY START? GIVE THEM A GIFT CERTIFICATE FROM SEATTLE SUTTON!