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Cut 3,500 calories with smart holiday swaps

We all want to enjoy our favorite holiday foods, but studies show that many of us will pick up an extra pound or two as we nosh our way through the season. That's a weight gain that often doesn't go away in the New Year and lead to major weight creep over time.  

If you try these food swaps at your holiday parties and gatherings -- JUST ONCE -- you can hold off those sneaky pounds and enjoy your favorite dishes. These are easy, pain-free trade-offs. Best of all, they add up to a 3,500 calorie savings!  

1. Swap your serving spoon

When dishing out your special mac-and-cheese recipe, a large serving spoon equals about 150 calories. If you downsize it to 2 tablespoons, it'll only be about 50 calories.

SAVINGS: 100 calories.

2. Swap your plate

Compare a typical holiday meal of ham, creamed spinach, and yams on a dinner plate at about 750 calories, with the same foods in smaller servings on a salad plate at 400 calories.

SAVINGS: 350 calories

3. Swap the dip

 There are a lot of cheese dips out thee. But a 1/2 cup of cheese sauce equals 210 calories, compared to 1 cup of salsa at about 10 calories.

SAVINGS: 200 calories

4. Swap your cocktails

Alternate your alcoholic drinks (about 250 calories) with seltzer. Or replace one fruit-based drink, which is more caloric, with a leaner Martini.

SAVINGS: 500 calories

5. Swap your snacks 

Who doesn't love a nibble or two along with your favorite drink? Instead of putting nuts in a bowl, try air-popped popcorn.

1 Cup nuts is 850 calories.

 2 cups air-popped popcorn is about 50 calories. 

SAVINGS: 800 calories

6. Swap your breakfast

Use egg whites instead of the whole egg or leaner Canadian bacon instead of regular bacon. 

A fatty holiday breakfast is 800 calories. 

A lean holiday breakfast is about 400 calories.

SAVINGS: 400 calories

7. Swap your soup

Soup can be a great starter if you choose wisely. Ditch the Onion Soup Gratinee (750 calories) for a bowl of chunky vegetable soup (150 calories).

SAVINGS: 600 calories

8. Swap your side-dish

Mashed potatoes are a side-dish that goes great with any main dish you choose. But you can swap 1 cup of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes (450 calories) for 1 cup of pureed cauliflower with light butter/milk (100 calories).

SAVINGS: 350 calories

9. Swap your dessert

We all save room for dessert. Instead of a slice of two-crusted apple pie (350 calories), try a crustless version (150 calories).

SAVINGS: 200 calories

 What are your favorite holiday foods? Tell us on Facebook!