The end of the year is approaching, and we all know what that means: holiday fun and food galore! From the preparation of the meal(s) until the leftovers have diminished, every dish appears irresistible. Our taste buds are more than pleased while eating our way through the holiday season, but our overall health is usually left unsatisfied. Substituting ingredients and/or gaining awareness and acknowledging your food intake during this eventful time of year are some ways to protect your overall health.

Substitution tips for a Healthier Dish

If you are cooking for the holidays, substituting healthier ingredients in the most traditional (and delicious) dishes could help reduce the consumption of fat and calories, and increase the overall intake of essential nutrients. Listed below are three of the most popular holiday dishes and a few of many examples of substituting ingredients and their benefits:

Turkey

• Butter → Olive oil (decrease fat)

Mashed potatoes

• White potatoes → Sweet potatoes (increase nutrients)

• Cream/milk/butter → Low-fat plain yogurt (decrease calories and fat)

Stuffing/Dressing

• White bread → Whole grain wheat bread (increase fiber and nutrients)

• Pork sausage → Turkey sausage (decrease calories and fat)

• Butter → Sautéed celery, onions, and garlic in canola oil (decrease fat)

Awareness and Acknowledgement of Hunger

Different environments and emotions can play a large role in what we eat – quantity and quality. Along with the aromas that trigger hunger, food has the ability to reacquaint us with memories, good and bad. Here are some helpful hints to conscious eating during holiday gatherings:

• Set a limit that isn’t too restricting

• Be aware of what you are eating

• Acknowledge your limit and stick to it

The ability to recognize and provide your body with the energy it needs, or does not need, is a preventative measure in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.