Did you know that the average American eats somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 to 4,500 calories during a holiday dinner? That’s nearly double the recommended average daily intake of 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men. When it’s time to waddle up to the dessert table, we can pack on another 500-plus calories with just one slice of pecan pie!

Lowering the calorie count

So, how can you avoid eating up to 25% of your daily calories in one serving of dessert? Try substituting high-fat and -sugar ingredients with ones that have fewer calories and, in some cases, more fiber (which helps to offset the carbohydrate count).

Healthy desserts are not too good to be true. You can find many delicious, sweet recipes; the key is to look at the ingredients. Nutritious ingredients such as dark chocolate, oats, maple syrup, almond flour, coconut oil, walnuts, almonds, unsweetened yogurt and berries (such as blackberries, blueberries and raspberries) can all be used.

When cooking with substitutions, you may need to make slight adjustments to baking temperatures and times, depending on the ingredients used. Try these tricks, which have almost no effect on flavor:

  • Reduce the amount of sugar: In most cases, you can simply reduce the amount called for in a recipe. You can also replace all or a portion of granulated white and packed brown sugars (which contain 49 and 51 calories per tablespoon, respectively) with sucralose (which is about 600 times sweeter than sugar and contains only 6 calories per tablespoon) or stevia (200 times sweeter and 45 calories). Tip: Before making these substitutions, try using them in something like coffee, tea or breakfast cereal to determine how much you want to use versus the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. You can also test a recipe by making a smaller batch of it first.
  • Swap in healthier fats: Butter and oil not only add moisture, flavor and “mouth feel,” but also help us feel full. But these calorie-laden ingredients can be replaced with healthier ingredients that have the same attributes. Try substituting:
    • All of the butter or oil required with an equal amount of puréed ripe avocado
    • Half of the butter required with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce1
    • ⅓ cup of oil with 1 cup of milled flaxseed2
  • Substitute for lower carbs: When keeping an eye on carb intake, you can add fiber to just about any recipe. In addition to unflavored fiber powders, try finely ground flaxseed or chia seeds. You can also substitute some portions of flour with oat flour (which can be made at home).

Speak with a dietitian today

Healthy holiday dessert recipe

Headed to someone else’s home for the holidays? The best thing you can do is be proactive and make and bring your own healthy dessert. It’s a gift you can give everyone. This chocolate yogurt mousse is so easy to make and can be pulled together in three minutes with four simple ingredients you may already have on hand (yes, really). Better yet, a serving is just 180 calories and packs 16 grams of protein to help keep you fuller, longer.

Chocolate yogurt mousse & berries

Ingredients for one serving (multiply as needed based on total number of servings anticipated):

  • 1 (5 oz) container low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp honey
  • ¼ cup berries


  1. Combine yogurt, cocoa powder and honey.
  2. Serve with berries.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 180; total fat: 4 g; saturated fat: 2 g; sodium: 96 mg; cholesterol: 23 mg; total carbs: 26 g; fiber: 2 g; sugars: 19 g; protein: 16 g; potassium: 94 mg.

Teladoc is here for you 24/7 during the holidays

Your friends at Teladoc wish you a happy and healthy holiday season! But if you or an eligible family member gets sick with a non-emergency condition, you can rely on Teladoc anytime, anywhere you are*—even if illness strikes while you’re out of town. Our doctors are available by phone or video 24/7 to diagnose, treat and even prescribe medication if needed for common conditions like flu, sinus infections, allergies, sore throat, cough and more.

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Updated September 7, 2021

*Teladoc is not available internationally.


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