The holidays are the best time of the year, but they can be the worst time of the year for your diet. Many people gain a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The best way to prevent this is to eat healthy throughout the entire holiday season, and of course you always need to manage portion control. The easiest way to eat healthy during indulgent holiday meals is to make a few sneaky swaps in favorite foods. This way, you can still enjoy all your favorite holiday staples, just without as many calories.

We picked seven easy swaps to incorporate into your Thanksgiving meal this year. Try one or try them all. Just remember that the most important part about Thanksgiving is love, family, and friends.

  1. Yogurt dips

    Don’t waste calories before you even start your Thanksgiving meal on fatty sour cream dips. Instead, just substitute that full fall sour cream for Greek yogurt. The dips will still be delicious and indulgent with about 25% of the calories that regular dips have!

  1. Sweet potatoes instead of candied yams

    Sweet potatoes are just as delicious as candied yams, and they have less than half the amount of calories. You also get the added benefit of a healthy dose of vitamins and nutrients from the potatoes. Sweet potatoes can easily be made by roasting in the oven or sauteing on the stove.

  1. Pick white meat instead of dark meat

    A super easy swap is to choose white meat. Dark meat has double the fat and about 40% more calories. Remember this tip, and remember to stick to portion control.

  1. Make your own stuffing

    For some people, stuffing is the best part about the holidays. But store bought stuffing is ‘stuffed’ with butter and white bread. Homemade stuffing is so easy, and it has significantly less fat, more fiber, and more flavor. To make homemade stuffing: simply saute your vegetables of choice, add whole-grain bread that has been moistened with no or low sodium chicken broth, and add your favorite herbs.

  1. Make fresh vegetables instead of casseroles

    Skip the casseroles that are full of fat and sodium. Instead prepare fresh vegetables like steamed green beans. Another tip is to eat your veggies first so you fill up on the healthy options and have less room for the higher calorie foods.

  1. Whole wheat instead of white flour

    The healthiest option is to skip bread all together with your holiday meal. But if your family insists that there be rolls with dinner, choose whole wheat rolls instead of white rolls. You can also substitute low fat milk for whole milk in baking recipes as well as experiment with less sugar and oil than the recipe calls for.

  1. Pick pumpkin pie

    Pie is a crucial part to the Thanksgiving meal. A piece of pecan pie has about 500 calories per slice; scary right? Pumpkin pie has about 300 calories per slice, which saves you 200 calories. Pumpkin pie also has lots of vitamin A, calcium, and iron.

Your jeans are going to be thankful for all these healthy swaps. Happy Thanksgiving from Family Health Care of Siouxland!

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