The holiday season is a hard time to be dieting with Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas cookies, New Year's Eve desserts, etc. The drive to work at weight loss goes out with the fall leaves. Overweight kids have an especially difficult time at Holidays. But there's hope--this author lost over 100 pounds, through holiday binges, and promises that with food swaps and recipe tweaks you can stay the diet course and still enjoy the feasting.

Use low-sodium alternatives for holiday cooking

Salt is a leading cause of obesity and Thanksgiving foods are sodium-loaded.

Self-basting turkeys ooze salt and fat, so baste your own turkey with Better Than Bouillon and zero-calorie non-stick cooking spray. Eat denser, more filling, low-fat white meat. Drink lots of water. Make your own broth for stuffing and gravy with Spike, Kirkland's salt-free seasoning from Costco or Mrs. Dash. Substitute fresh herbs and spices: rosemary, pepper, thyme, dill, oregano, marjoram and sage in Christmas dinner recipes.

Cut bread and starch in Thanksgiving recipes

Swap bread for fat burning nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews), seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), squash and mushrooms in stuffing in holiday recipes. Ramp up vegetables in dressing with celery, green peppers, onions, carrots, scallions, garlic, leeks, shallots, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Add dried cranberries, apples, chestnuts and scallions in the stuffing. Go crustless with gluten-free compotes and puddings instead of pie.

Serve vegetable entrees in Christmas colors

Make a three-bean salad with red and green beans. Chop cabbage, kale, radishes, broccoli, red cabbage, carrots and onions and blend with horseradish mustard, liquid smoke, vinegar and oil, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.

Pickle celery, beets, and turnips. Make fresh tomato and cucumber salad with vinegar and yogurt. Swap mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes. Serve a salad bar and crudites on the appetizers buffet. Baste Brussels sprouts and colored peppers with olive oil and roast. Swap sweet potatoes for yams or squash. Omit marshmallows, cut brown sugar and sweeten with pineapple, apples or bananas.

Switch to healthier dairy and fats

Bake potatoes and top with feta or low-fat Parmesan cheese. Blend feta, Greek yogurt, Parmesan, garlic, dill, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice into a yogurt feta dressing. Make a vinaigrette with the fat burning mojo of apple cider vinegar, berries and chia seeds. Use Greek yogurt instead of topping--it's just as tasty and half the calories. Bake and cook with flaxseed, coconut or almond milk. Use low-fat yogurt margarine and olive oil mayonnaise in holiday cooking.

Make homemade holiday desserts rock decadent

Make pumpkin custard without crust, eggs or oil, using bananas, applesauce, and flaxseed. Halve sugar in fruit pies and cranberries. Use Splenda, xylitol, 100 percent fruit juice or pure maple syrup.

Use light butter, lemon juice, banana or almond flour. Substitute reduced-calorie topping for ice cream. Use almond or coconut milk instead of condensed milk. Use 70-percent or higher cacao over milk chocolate. Bake with sunflower or almond butter and PB2 peanut powder. Use tons of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, and allspice.