The holidays are known to be the hardest season of the year in terms of the age old battle of the bulge. It’s not even a wonder why. With a constant cycling of holiday parties, meals, cocktails and cookie exchanges – you’re bound to be faced with the ultimate feast of temptations. Instead of just over-indulging on everything and giving your body more to work off come all the New Year’s resolutions and health kicks of January, why not tackle the holidays informed and prepared to make decisions that won’t negatively impact your health, and waistline? Let’s take a look at foods to avoid, and some great recipe alternatives to them – to keep you satisfied and enjoying yourself throughout the holidays!

1. Mashed Potatoes < Mashed Cauliflower

Yes, with the holiday comes potatoes. Scalloped, roasted, mashed, fried, baked, and drowned in gravy. It’s a staple at feasts, and it can be hard to avoid. However, trying to substitute potatoes for cauliflower, you will save yourself on carbs, calories and enjoy it all the same! If mashed cauliflower isn’t on the menu, try opting for another holiday dinner classic with sweet potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes Average: 214 calories per cup

Mashed Cauliflower Average: 94 calories per cup

2. Turkey Leg < Turkey Breast

A turkey leg is often a fought over asset of the turkey dinner (there are only two after all) but keep yourself out of that battle, and opt for a turkey breast portion instead! It’s leaner in fats and calories without compromising on taste or protein!

Turkey Leg Average: 192 calories per 4oz edible portion

Turkey Breast Average: 153 calories per 4oz, skinless

3. Bread Stuffing < Quinoa Stuffing

Stuffing is rather delicious, it’s just…well…it’s empty carbs. The flavors themselves are what makes that turkey stuffing/dressing so warm and inviting to your plate. You can replicate those same flavors with a healthier, nutrient dense version using quinoa!

Bread Stuffing Average: 352 calories per cup

Quinoa Average: 222 calories per cup

4. Canned Cranberry Sauce < Homemade Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

Sometimes the healthy substitutions just means you don’t opt for the easy way out. For a simple recipe like cranberry sauce which is most definitely a turkey dinner’s favorite side – try making your own version, free of sugar and preservatives, along with all those extra calories.

Canned Cranberry Sauce Average: 110 calories per 1/4 cup

Homemade Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce Average: 29 calories per 1/4 cup

5. Traditional Cornbread < Skinny Cornbread

In a recipe there are always loopholes to make it a little healthier. Those little substitutions can really add up. In fact, it cuts the calories in less than half! Woah.

Traditional Cornbread Average: 198 calories per piece

Skinny Cornbread Recipe Below: 85 calories per piece

6. Green Bean Casserole < Roasted & Seasoned Green Beans

Yes, casseroles are awesome, with that breaded crust and lots of cheese, it’s easy to forget it’s actually vegetables. But wait – aren’t we supposed to be eating our veggies? Not counteracting them with needless toppings that are mere distractions from a delicious and nutritious holiday side dish?

Green Bean Casserole Average: 142 calories per cup

Roasted/Steamed Green Bean Average: 75 calories per cup

7. Turkey Drippings Gravy < Homemade Skinny Gravy

Skinny gravy, ha! Who’d of thunk it?! I personally love gravy, I’m the girl who pours gravy all over the plate. So swapping out a skinnier version using broth instead of the high fat turkey drippings version saves a ton on calories, and of course – fat.

Turkey Drippings Gravy Average: 200+ calories per cup

Homemade Skinny Gravy: 100 calories per cup

8. Caesar Salad < Balsamic Spinach Salad

All salads are not created equal. Salad can often be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, making many believe they are eating something healthy and low calorie, when in fact it is high-fat and calorie ridden. It’s all in the dressings and the toppings. With a caesar, you’re combining a high-fat creamy dressing, with croutons, bacon and cheese. Not exactly health food. Swap it out for a vinaigrette salad like a spinach or garden salad, and just watch those toppings, and you’ll be able to fill your plate up, guilt free!

Caesar Salad Average: 180 calories per cup

Balsamic Spinach Salad: 29 calories per cup (add more for toppings like goat cheese & nuts!)

9. Fruit Pie < Fresh Fruit

We all love a strong finish at the end of a good meal. While that sugar craving kicks in, it can be hard to resist your Aunt’s best apple pie, or your Grandmother’s raspberry crumble. Over the holidays we are basically rolled in sugar, dipped in frosting, and toss some sprinkles on top. All fun and games until your body feels sluggish and tired due to the sugar highs & lows. You can easily clean up your act, and your eating by making a simple decision to go for fresh fruit, over the pie form of fruit.

Apple Pie Average: 277 calories per 1/8 pie slice

Fresh Fruit Average: 133 calories per cup

10. Regular Latte < Almond Milk Latte

A warm drink is often accompanied by desserts at the end of the evening. Many forget that you can absolutely drink your calories, too! Making a simple switch from a regular coffee or latte, to a good-for-you almond milk version with a sugar substitute like stevia –  you’ll be cutting back on everything, but taste!

Regular Latte Average: 150 calories per cup

Almond Milk Latte: 30 calories per cup

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Sarah Nicole

Since successfully losing 100lbs by changing her relationship with food and her body, Sarah has taken her passion for food and balanced it between cucumbers and cupcakes. When she's not bustling her way around a kitchen, you can find her working out or winding down at home with her 3 kids and pug. Follow Sarah's journey on Instagram @TheBirdsPapaya.

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