According to a study by OnePoll on behalf of Quest Nutrition, 87% of Americans say they experience more food cravings over the holidays than any other time of year. Whether it’s due to sweet smells coming out of the oven, traditional family recipes we look forward to enjoying during the holiday season or attending more celebrations this time of year, one thing’s for certain – rich, higher-calorie foods tend to surround us from this point until it’s time to ring in the New Year.
While it’s not always possible to avoid food cravings completely, it is possible to change how we respond to them. In my book, it’s usually best to acknowledge cravings in a sensible way – either by savoring the same flavors with a better-for-you twist or opting for bite-sized portions whenever possible.
Take a look at these most-often-craved holiday foods to see how to enjoy them like a nutrition pro so you don’t end up throwing your health and wellness goals out the window for the remainder of the year.
If you’re craving Pumpkin Pie, opt for a crustless version like this recipe instead. Because pumpkin is naturally rich in so many protective compounds like fiber, vitamin A and beta-carotene, it’s a great ingredient to keep on your menu. If the flavors of pumpkin pie are what you’re looking for, opt for a nourishing smoothie with pumpkin and warming pumpkin pie spice.
If you’re craving Mashed Potatoes, prepare my favorite version using a mixture of Yukon gold potatoes and frozen cauliflower florets. The golden color of the potatoes gives an appearance of rich, buttery potatoes without the butter! Even better, these white powerhouse veggies work together to deliver vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
If you’re craving Apple Pie, make them mini. These adorable handheld pies are made with Granny Smith apples and are perfect when entertaining. The addition of walnuts adds a plant-based omega-3 punch and with flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves you’ll never miss the full slice of pie.
If you’re craving Ice Cream, have the ice cream (in moderation, of course!). As long as it’s portioned out, this dessert counts towards Dairy Food Group goals – 1 scoop is equal to 1/3 cup of milk. Add a holiday twist with this pear-inspired recipe for semi-homemade ice cream. Using canned pears and cinnamon, you can enjoy a bonus serving of fruit while satisfying your sweet tooth at the same time.
Another expert way to curb cravings? Enjoy a produce-centered snack before making your way to holiday gatherings so you silence hunger with higher-fiber, lower-calorie food first. Snack on red pepper slices with hummus; guacamole with whole grain tortilla chips or trail mix with dried raisins and apricots as crave-worthy options in their own right. Then, when you’re enamored with tempting spreads of holiday goodies, your stomach won’t be in control of the choices you make.