Dietitian’s Advice: Healthy Holiday Swaps

This is the time of year I have to be extra good – and not just to avoid getting coal on Christmas. Between work and friends’ parties, I’m exposed to a LOT of indulgent foods that can wreak havoc on all the hard work I put into being health year round.

Swapping out five foods from your diet can really impact your overall health.

We reached out to Carrie Gabriel, a L.A.-based dietitian for her top five swaps to make the holidays a little healthier.

  1. Using coconut oil instead of butter.
    Carrie, we couldn’t agree more! From baking to sautéing to roasting vegetables like Brussels sprouts or sautéing vegetables like kale or spinach, using coconut oil is the way to go. Not to mention, coconut oil may help you fight off the cold or flu.
  2. Using lower glycemic index carbs instead of higher glycemic ones.
    Swapping out white potatoes for sweet potatoes or brown rice for white will keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. Plus, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and fiber.
  3. Using sugar free sparkling water instead of soda in cocktails, like Pellegrino or club soda.
    Carrie suggests adding fresh fruit for added flavor. But don’t, Carrie advises, mistake “sugar free” for “artificial sugars.”
    “While artificial sweeteners replace the sweetness of sugar without calories and are considered to be a good alternative to sugar for diabetics, there is also research that shows consumption of artificial sweeteners to be linked to an increase in appetite. This is probably because when you are hungry and eat something based with artificial sweeteners, your body is not getting the nutrients it needs to feel satisfied.  Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to cancers, tumors and even seizures. Try to turn to more natural sweeteners like honey, organic maple syrup, molasses, date sugar, brown rice syrup, and stevia. These are just a few natural sweeteners you can turn to that will wreck less havoc on your body.”
  4. For creamy dishes, try using 0-2% Greek yogurt in place of milk or heavy cream.
    We love using Greek yogurt in everything from stuffed apples to toppings for our sweet potatoes.  Carrie also suggest using it as a topping in some meat-based dishes.
  5. When using eggs, try using egg whites for half of your eggs in some dishes.
    For example, if a dish calls for 3 eggs, use one whole egg and 4 egg whites. Two egg whites should equal the amount 1 egg would add up to volumetrically, but less calories and cholesterol. Carrie reminds us, though, to keep some of the egg yolk. The yolk has natural emulsification properties, plus the yolk also holds all the beneficial vitamins and minerals.

These seem easy enough, right? What are some of your healthy switches?

 Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season!


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