featured Kaitlyn McInnis

Eat This, Not That: Holiday Food Edition

November 11, 2019DMT.NEWS

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Healthy Holiday Food Swaps

Holiday gatherings are all about having fun, catching up with friends and family and checking all your stresses at the door for a few days. The last thing you should be worried about is how you’ll avoid all the holiday party treats. That said, if you’re on the brink of achieving your fitness goals, it may not be worth going off the rails and gaining a few pounds just for the sake of gingerbread cookies and mulled wine. Making choices that you enjoy and that make you feel good is possible – and actually quite simple if you know what you’re up against.

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That’s why we’ve put together a list of all the holiday foods you should skip on, and what you should be indulging in instead. Some of them are super easy and just as enjoyable, like opting for red wine rather than rum and eggnog on Christmas Eve, or going for olives and nuts instead of chips and dip, but there are some other, sneakier holiday foods that you may not even realize are packed with carbs and sugar.

Before you head off to your grandma’s or in-laws’ for that holiday extravaganza, be sure to check out this list of healthier options that will ensure you have fun and eat well without really derailing your fitness goals.

Hummus vs. Cheese Ball

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Snacking over the holidays will be the death of your waistline … oh, the drama! Mingling, chatting, drinking, and mindlessly snacking really is what will get you. So when you’re standing around the snack table, catching up with old friends and family, don’t even think about spreading that processed cheese ball on a cracker. Instead, reach for the hummus and veggies. Homemade hummus is way more flavorful than a cheeseball and touts a healthy dose of fiber while limiting the bad fats and carbs that you’d find in a cheese ball.

Cauliflower vs. Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower is truly a gift from the universe. It’s low in carbs and calories while packing some serious flavor. When possible, we suggest skipping traditional mashed potatoes, which are packed with carbs and fat, depending on how they’re prepared, and instead opting for cauliflower puree. It touts just 28 calories per serving, compared to 128 calories for potatoes, and honestly tastes better … if we dare say.

Dark Chocolate vs. Holiday Cookies

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Alright, so, this one may be a bit more of a struggle than foregoing potatoes or cheese balls … especially if you have a sweet tooth. Holiday cookies, whether store-bought or homemade, are traditionally packed with refined sugar, fats, artificial flavors and food dyes, all of which are not doing your body any favors. If you feel like you will absolutely die without one of grandma’s gingerbreads, have one or two, but stop there. Instead, reach for dark chocolate. It’s less sweet than milk or white, but it touts an impressive amount of potassium, magnesium, iron, and antioxidants. It also has a low glycemic index, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar – which contributes to weight gain and the urge to overeat.

Butter vs. Margarine

You probably know this already, but you should always be opting for real butter over-processed margarine. Real butter is rich in good fat, vitamin A, selenium and linoleic acid, which support immune function. Processed margarine, on the other hand, is full of trans fats, hydrogenated oils that foster inflammation and artificial colorings. It may be lower in fat, but the artificial and toxic ingredients are never worth the trade-off.

RELATED: How to Cook a Turkey

Turkey vs. Ham

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There is good news! Your beloved roast turkey is one of the best meats you can consume over the holidays. If you’re looking to stay lean, opting for turkey or chicken over red meat is a no brainer. If you’re really watching your waistline, opt for the breast or drumstick over the wing or thigh, which have significantly more fat once per ounce.

Charcuterie vs. Processed Cocktail Meats

When it comes to snacking on meats, the subtleties make all the difference. You’re gonna want to opt for high-quality charcuterie and lean meats over the processed cocktail weenies and other novelty apps. Skip the processed meats and pepperonis for an Italian deli meat like capicola or soppressata.

Pumpkin Pie vs. Pecan Pie

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Surprisingly, pumpkin pie is actually not so bad for the waistline. It has fewer calories and less fat than most other holiday pies, and pumpkin is packed with carotenoids, plant pigments that include beta carotene (an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body) and lutein. Pumpkin pie is also rich in fiber and potassium, and boasts a decent amount of calcium, iron, vitamin C, several B vitamins, and more good stuff to keep you going.

Raw Veggies vs. Dinner Rolls

Let’s get one thing straight: dinner rolls are the devil. Yes, they’re delicious, they’re extremely tempting when they’re right there, warm and steamy in front of you and they go down like nothing over conversation and wine. But carb-loading before dinner is a recipe for losing that waistline you’ve been working on. Instead, opt for raw veggies if they’re available or just stick to water until the main course comes. It’s a small sacrifice that will make a big difference.

Sweet Potatoes vs. Potatoes

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Pick sweet potatoes over white potatoes, every single time. White potatoes are not bad for you, per se, but sweet potatoes are a serious superfood. They’re packed with about 4 grams of protein, a decent dose of fiber and boast an array of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium and selenium. There’s a reason sweet potatoes are the number one consumed vegetable in the earth’s blue zones (where the world’s oldest people live).

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Kaitlyn McInnis, Khareem Sudlow

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