Do Diet

17 ways to eat healthier over the holidays

A festive feast can tally up to 2,000 calories in one sitting. Try these smart swaps and indulge to your heart's content — with calories to spare


Photo, Sian Richards.


1. Eat the filling but leave the crust and you’ll save up to 200 calories and 8 grams of fat.

2. Use a salad plate to enforce portion control. You can still enjoy a little bit of everything.

3. Buy nuts in their shells: You’ll eat fewer peanuts and pistachios if you have to work for them. (Nuts are nutritional powerhouses and a good source of heart-healthy fats.)

4. Choose white turkey without the skin. It’s packed with filling lean protein as well as immunity-boosting iron and zinc.


Expert tips for navigating any buffet table or holiday dinner party

Find a spot away from the buffet table — if you’re stationed beside the food, you’re more likely to keep eating, even after you’re full.

Queue up at the end of the line. By letting others go first, you can gather intel about which dishes are splurge-worthy and which can be passed up.

Eat a healthy pre-dinner mini-meal so you don’t arrive ravenous. Try veggies and hummus or a bowl of high-fibre cereal with low-fat milk.

Dine slowly and mindfully. Eating with purpose gives both brain and stomach a chance to register everything you’re chewing, so you’ll find you eat less.

Sit to eat. “People who eat standing up consume more calories and feel less satisfied because it doesn’t feel like a ‘meal,’ ” says Abbey Sharp, a dietitian in Toronto.

Load just a bite or two of something indulgent onto a fork. “Taste buds acclimatize after that initial mouthful, and nothing tastes as good as the first bite,” says Sharp.

Try the napkin test. If a quick dab reveals a big oil stain, the food is loaded with fat — and probably not the healthy variety found in flax, sunflower or olive oil.


Smart swaps

Blend not-so-naughty nog
Fill half your glass with non-fat milk before you add the store-bought eggnog, or make your own healthier version. Check out our recipe for Homemade Eggnog here.

Mix up your mashed potatoes
Hold the cream and save around 150 calories per half-cup serving by using buttermilk instead.

Bake meringues
At only about 30 calories per cookie, they’re a waistline-friendly treat.

Cook Slimmer stuffing
Replace half the bread in your recipe with sliced mushrooms, chopped celery and carrots. If you’re baking it outside of the bird, top it with a little chopped prosciutto instead of sausage.

Make your own low-sugar cranberry sauce
By replacing half of the cranberries in any recipe with naturally sweet diced figs, apples or quince, you halve the amount of sugar needed.

Try a twist on green beans
A creamy casserole is the classic way to present green beans (a good source of fibre and vitamins A and C), but serving them cold in a salad is smarter. Jazz them up with segments of grapefruit or orange, sliced almonds or a drizzle of a flavourful oil, like walnut.