Eating Healthy for the Holidays

November 23, 2020

Eating healthy during the holidays can be a real challenge, but it is possible. With some planning, fitting holiday favorites into a healthful eating plan is easy.


When cooking foods, it is important think about easy and healthy substitutions. Here are some tips for simple modifications to holiday foods which still can be delicious and healthy:


Meat Dish:


Choose leaner cuts of meat for your holiday gatherings whenever possible. Turkey is one of the leanest types of meat. Choosing white meat without skin over dark meat with skin can save up to 11 grams of fat per serving- so choose the breast meat of a chicken or turkey rather than the drumstick. It is best to prepare meat in way that reduces the fat content, like broiling, stewing, grilling, or baking.





If you have stuffing with your meat dish and the recipe calls for meat or giblets, replace half of the meat with dried fruits such as cranberries, raisins or apricots. This turns an everyday recipe into a colorful and seasonal dish. Rather than cooking stuffing inside of poultry or a roast, cook the stuffing separately to reduce the amount of fat in the stuffing considerably.







Fortunately, most vegetables contain little or no fat. It is what we add to the vegetables that increase their fat content. Avoid smothering vegetables with thick, creamy sauces or butter. Potatoes are a good source of Vitamins B and C and potassium, so add some flavor without adding fat by adding rosemary and garlic.





Cranberry Sauce:


Homemade cranberry sauce is easy to prepare and is an excellent source of Vitamin C. To cut some extra calories, try using an artificial sweetener instead of sugar in the recipe or adding cranberry sauce on turkey instead of gravy.





A holiday feast is not complete without dessert! Instead of denying yourself, try to make wise choices by selecting desserts lower in fat or eating smaller portions. If making pumpkin pie, use evaporated skim milk and top with a fat free whipped topping or frozen yogurt. Also try “crustless” pumpkin pie. 




Hot chocolate, eggnog, and punches all tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients. If you choose to have eggnog, have a smaller amount and dilute it with skim milk or use low fat or fat free eggnog. Diet carbonated sodas can make a very festive drink when added to your favorite fruit juice — try a low calorie cranberry juice with diet lemon-lime soda.



Be prepared and accept the fact that temptations are high during the holiday season. The keys are moderation and balance. Small changes in preparing foods can save hundreds of calories during meal times. By making these realistic substitutions and choices, you will be off to a happy and healthy new year! 




Crustless Pumpkin Pie



  • 1 15 ounce can 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 13 ounce can evaporated skim milk
  • 1 egg + 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup reduced fat biscuit mix
  • ¾ cup Splenda sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Fat free whipped topping
  • Nutmeg for garnish



Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 9’’ pie pan with vegetable spray. Place all recipe ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend for 60 seconds. Pour into pie pan and bake for 50 minutes or until center is puffed up. Serve with a dollop of whipped topping and a dusting of nutmeg.

The Author

Kim Kramer R.D., L.D.N., CDCES

I have been a dietitian for over 15 years and my passion is in outpatient wellness working with kids and adults to help change their eating habits. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a dietitian, and I am enthusiastic about nutrition as it gives me joy to talk to others about healthy foods. I promote a healthy lifestyle and positive behavior changes. I have also been working in the field of diabetes for the last 7 years providing optimal diabetes management practices to those in need. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my kids, cooking, playing the piano and working out.

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