How to Save 1,000 Calories at Holiday Meals - Healthy recipes and cooking tips for a healthier lifestyle

How to Save 1,000 Calories at Holiday Meals

November 1, 2023
How to Save 1,000 Calories at Holiday Meals

These food swaps can save you loads of calories. Try our best low calorie holiday recipes.

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Who can resist the mouth-watering foods served at Thanksgiving, Christmas and other seasonal holidays? Afterall, these wonderful holiday dinners only come around once a year. It’s easy to consume thousands of calories in a single meal on these occasions. That’s more than you would typically eat in a day or even multiple days!

While it’s okay to overeat once in a while, and a holiday or special occasion is a good excuse to chow down, it’s very possible to eat a holiday dinner without going off the rails. These food swaps can save you over 1,000 calories in just one meal! Exercising portion control while enjoying indulgent favorite foods you wait all year long to eat can also go a long way in helping you manage holiday calories.

Holiday Food Swaps to Save 1,000 Calories

Drinks: Every glass of wine or beer or cocktail you drink clocks in at 100 calories or more. Have a glass of water or seltzer between drinks to save hundreds of calories. It will also keep you hydrated so you’ll be less likely to experience a hangover the next day.

Approx. calorie savings (2 glasses of wine): 250

Healthy holiday main dishes: The main event at holiday meals is usually a relatively simple protein, such as turkey, chicken, roast beef or ham. White meat proteins without the skin will save you calories over fattier cuts of meat. How the meat is cooked also makes a difference. For example, eat roasted turkey breast without the skin instead of a fried turkey leg with the skin.

Approx. calorie savings: 125

Roasted Turkey Breast with Root Vegetables

Holiday veggie substitutes: Want to save your calories for something truly indulgent? Skip the green bean casserole and other creamy veggie dishes and have steamed or roasted veggies instead. This way, you’ll save up some calories to spend on other decadent side dishes.

Approx. calorie savings: 150

Oven-Roasted Vegetables

Healthy potato casseroles: A baked sweet potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a few roasted potatoes can save you loads of calories compared to potato dishes that are full of butter or cream, such as mashed potatoes.

Approx. calorie savings: 175

Sweet Potato Casserole

Healthy Thanksgiving stuffing: To lighten up stuffing and get in more healthy carbs, replace half the bread cubes with wild rice. Using chicken or vegetable broth is also a good way to add flavor while lowering the amount of butter needed.

Approx. calorie savings: 100

Cornbread Stuffing

Pie: If you love to end a holiday meal with pie, opt for pumpkin over pecan. You’ll enjoy the tastes of the season with far fewer calories.

Approx. calorie savings: 250

Pumpkin Pie

Total calorie savings? 1,050

Other Holiday Calorie Saving Tips

Here are some other tips for eating more mindfully, maintaining portion control and eating fewer calories at holiday meals:

  • Don’t arrive hungry. You may think it’s best to eat nothing or very little all day so you can save up for the big feast. But if you arrive famished, you’re less likely to make good food choices. Eat a filling breakfast or high-protein snack before you arrive.
  • Sample the spread. Before you take a serving of anything that passes you by, survey what the offerings are and decide which indulgences you truly have to have. Skip foods you can eat anytime and take small portions of the ones you really want. Then savor them slowly.
  • Sit strategically. Can’t help yourself when the cheese, nuts or cake are nearby? Find a place to sit or stand that’s not within arm’s reach. That way, you’ll have to make a conscious decision to get up if you want to indulge.
  • Bring a dish. Offer to bring a dish or two and make it something healthy. This way you’ll know just where to go when you need to fill your plate with something nourishing and less calorie-dense. Be sure to check out our delicious low calorie holiday recipes below!

Low Calorie Holiday Recipes

Whether you’re hosting a holiday meal or want to bring a low-calorie dish or two, these  lower calorie holiday recipes will quickly become crowd favorites:

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