Holiday Diet Tips: Keep Calories in Check While Enjoying the Season
As the seasons change we’re all tempted to indulge, but consuming all the extra calories added from sugar in those decadent sweets and savories can quickly add up to pounds on the scale! In fact, during the holiday season, the average person gains more than 1.5 pounds, according to a 2013 study from Texas Tech University. The study also found that most people retain that weight and exercise alone won’t stave off the gain. The good news is that there are options for swapping higher-calorie foods for lighter choices that can help you save calories from sugar and prevent holiday weight gain. And the best part — you don’t have to skimp on flavor to enjoy all the festivities!
“You can still enjoy an occasional holiday treat if you follow simple, easy steps to reduce calories from sugar in your diet,” said Michelle Harrington, registered dietitian at McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweeteners.
Follow Harrington’s tips below to cut calories and manage your weight to enjoy a healthier and happier holiday season!
Set realistic expectations. When it comes to holiday diet tips, use the 80/20 rule, in which 80 percent of your choices are healthful and with the other 20 percent you splurge a little. Consider it a win and pat yourself on the back if you maintain your weight during the holidays. Enjoy the fun of the season and feel good about the choices you make. Remember, everything in moderation!
Budgeting your calories. Your bank account isn’t the only thing to keep in balance this holiday season. When you’re on the run with holiday shopping, be mindful when stopping in your favorite coffee shop. Skip the whipped cream, full-sugar syrups, cream and sugar! Instead, save those calories for holiday desserts, and explore coffee “makeover” alternatives that are still sweet and delicious but are made with reduced fat milk and sugar-free flavored syrups.
Try these simple swaps to enjoy the sweetness of the season without all the added calories:
- Instead of a cheesy or heavy dip, try salsa, a low-fat yogurt-based dip or hummus.
- Instead of fried hors d'oeuvres, go for a fresher approach with steamed shrimp or crudités.
- Instead of cakes and pies, opt for something like a fruit crisp that has fewer calories than a traditional pie.
For handy tips and tasty recipes to help you save calories every day, visit www.365SweetSwaps.com.
Spice up your substitutions. Traditional holiday beverages like egg nog, hot chocolate and mulled cider can contain a lot of calories. But there’s no need to skimp on the spice. Ingredients like nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon sticks help add a little kick. For something with sweet and spice and everything nice this season, try these reduced-sugar beverage recipes from the SPLENDA® Brand.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 1/2 cups skim milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Whisk water, cocoa powder and sweetener in sauce pan. Slowly bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture thickens and resembles syrup.
- Mix in remaining ingredients and heat. Do not boil. Serve hot
- 2 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
- Dash ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup hot brewed strong hazelnut-flavored coffee
- 2 tablespoons thawed sugar-free whipped topping
- Microwave half-and-half, sweetener and cinnamon in microwave-safe mug on high for 15 seconds or until heated through.
- Stir in coffee. Top with whipped topping and serve.