Make these Swaps for a Healthy & Jolly Season

by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting

The holiday season is our favorite time of the year, and it offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with family and friends. Gatherings, however, come with such challenges as rich foods (high in salt,
sugar and fat), holidaythemed beverages (that may include alcohol) and delectable desserts. These could make it difficult to stick with a healthy eating pattern and dodge any weight gain.

Take a look at these tips to help you to make this holiday season friendlier to your heart:


This translates to one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Typically, a drink is one 12-ounce regular beer, 4-5 ounces of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits. Keep in mind that one simple drink containing alcohol provides between 100 to 500 calories.

Swap alcohol-containing drinks with:
* Alcohol-free eggnog
* Apple cider
* Seltzer water with citrus or berries
* Carbonated apple or grape beverage
* Flavored water (mint leaves, fruits, cucumbers, etc.)
* Iced tea


Foods such as stuffing, gravies, sauces, cheese toppings and appetizers/ snacks along with baked goods can have a very high sodium content. Aim at keeping your sodium intake to about 2,300 mg of sodium per day (the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of salt). However, if you have high blood pressure, your goal is to limit your sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.

Swap high-salt foods with:
* Low-sodium versions of traditional highsodium foods
* Good quality sea salt
* Various herbs and spices instead of using regular salt
* Baking with salt-free baking soda and saltfree baking powder


Rich foods, including desserts, may pack a considerable amount of saturated fats and trans fats. Trans fats, commonly found in commercially baked goods, are to be avoided at all times, while saturated fats are to be consumed in moderation.

Swap highfat foods with:
* Low-fat versions of high-fat foods
* Leaner cuts of meats
* Home baked instead of commercially prepared goods
* Olive or avocado oil instead of butter
* Avoid deep fat-fried foods and/or desserts


Comfort holiday meals may lack dietary fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants and healthier fats.

* Fruit-based desserts (not in a pie format)
* Unsalted nuts and seeds
* Legumes (peas, beans and lentils)
* Whole grains (desserts, stuffing, bread, brown rice, etc.)
* Steamed vegetables or salad with fresh vegetables
* Stevia, for example, instead of sugar