6 Holiday Indulgences Nutritionists Can’t Live Without
They may know a lot more about healthy eating than the rest of us, but it turns out that even those who talk nutrition for a living are still human when it comes to holiday treats. We polled six nutritionists to find out what they’re craving this holiday season — and how they plan to work those indulgences into their otherwise healthy diets.
Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., Healthy Eats contributor and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day:
“For me, it’s my mother’s sweet potato casserole topped with loads of marshmallows. I do allow myself to indulge, but I make sure to follow the ‘two-tablespoon rule’ — I take two heaping tablespoons and then enjoy it guilt-free! (And yes, I do enjoy two more tablespoons the next day if there’s any left over.)”
“My family is all about the stuffing. And while the classic stuffing has to make a mandatory appearance, I also like to prepare a healthier version. So I’ll swap out the bread for a starchy vegetable, like sweet potato or kabocha squash, or a grain, like quinoa or farro. And no matter what, I like to pack it with vegetables to add more nutritional value and ease up on the carbohydrate content.”
Dana Angelo White, M.S., R.D., Healthy Eats contributor and author of First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers:
“Since every day isn’t Christmas and those holiday parties seem to go on forever, I’ve come up with some better-for-you alternatives to decadent sugary treats. One of my favorites is Chocolate-Dipped Clementines, because it satisfies chocolate cravings but makes fresh fruit the star.”
Kara Lydon, R.D., LDN, author of The Foodie Dietitian Blog:
“I’m strong believer that there’s a place for indulgences over the holidays, but I’m an even bigger believer that healthy food can — and should — be delicious. So I work to find creative ways to take classic holiday staples and make them healthier. For example, one of my favorite holiday desserts is pumpkin pie, but it usually contains lots of sugar and saturated fat. So I make a version that calls for maple syrup instead of white sugar and silken tofu instead of heavy cream. You won’t even know the difference!”
Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
“For as long as I can remember, Christmas morning has included fresh-baked cinnamon buns. I rarely eat pastries, so I indulge freely, enjoy them along with the rest of my family and then go back to my healthy eating habits for the rest of the day.”
Mary Ryan, M.S., R.D., nutritional consultant at Beyond Broccoli:
“I love good stuffing, but I make a healthier version than what was traditional in my family, mainly because I use leftovers from various yummy whole-grain breads (often with seeds in them). This makes the stuffing high in fiber and much more flavorful than the store-bought white-bread cubes. I also mix extra virgin olive oil and butter with apple cider or organic unfiltered apple juice for the liquid.”
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.