Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Photo: holiday dinner.

It is often difficult staying on a healthy eating track during the busy holiday season. Remember, food is as much a part of holiday celebrations as being with family and friends, therefore, the holiday season comes with the challenge of trying to make healthier choices when many holiday foods and traditions don't fit in that category. However, research shows that Americans typically gain 1 to 3 pounds, or even more, during the holidays. The concern is that most people don't lose that excess weight and it adds up potentially causing chronic health problems. So, making the effort to stay on track can go a long way.

It is possible to reduce the large amounts of fats and sugar usually found in holiday recipes without drastically changing the holiday foods that you love to eat. It just takes a little planning and a few simple changes and you can enjoy great-tasting holiday foods and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. For example, fruits and vegetables can be used to replace sugars and fats in recipes and other simple modifications can be made to reduce the calories of your favorite holiday recipes.

Here are a few other healthy tips to rehab your recipes:

  • Use unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe bananas instead of butter in recipes.
  • Cut the amount of sugar listed in recipes in half.
  • Use spices to add flavor such as cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg instead of sugar or salt.
  • Whole grain flour can be substituted for 1/4 to 1/2 of refined flour.
  • Use yogurt or cottage cheese instead of sour cream.
  • Use low-fat cheese in place of higher fat cheese.
  • Use skim milk instead of whole milk.

Try any of these changes one at a time, making the recipe a little healthier each time you prepare it. If you prefer not to change your favorite recipes, portion control can help reduce calorie intake during the holidays and in the end any of these changes will pay off, in a healthy way, in the New Year.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences