We often find recipes that will “healthify” our holiday favorites. Whether it’s a Sugar-Free/Almond Milk based Egg Nog, Cauli Mash trying to replace real Mashed Potatoes, or Latkes getting baked instead of fried, recipe bloggers are itching to get you to try their holiday swaps. The question remains though, should you swap your Holiday favorites with a healthier alternative or not? The answer is: it depends on YOU.

Oftentimes, people are seeking to change their favorite Holiday foods due to the peer pressures the media creates on “Don’t Gain, Remain the Same” during the Holiday season. The media also announces everywhere that the average American gains 5-10 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The reality is, the media exaggerates and the average person actually only gains 0.88 to 2 pounds during the Holiday months (Check out the NIH supporting article here). In other words, you should not let weight gain fear be the reason you should change up your traditional Holiday foods – or any foods ever for that matter.

So how do you determine if you should change up that recipe or not? My tip, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will the healthified recipe satisfy me as much as my traditional one or leave me feeling unfulfilled?
  • Will I enjoy the alternative as much as the classic one?
  • Am I changing the recipe because I want to try something new or it is based on fear?
  • Will my family and friends’ Holiday experience be affected because I changed up the Holiday foods they look forward to every year?
  • What is this new recipe doing for me? (Causing stress or causing pleasure?)

It’s important to analyze the WHY behind wanting to healthify your Holiday favorites. And I want to emphasize that there is no wrong answer – you can healthy swap any food you desire but think about the WHY first.

As a Dietitian, the experience, memories, and traditions around food come FIRST – before any nutrition. My personal tip: Keep your Holiday favorites intact and enjoy them. If you want to add a little more color and nutrients to your Holiday dinner, bring your Holiday favorite, along with a nutrient-dense dish. This way, you are ADDING IN nutrition versus TAKING OUT your favorite Holiday foods.

That’s mindful. That’s instinctive.

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