Holidays are not only a time for family and friends, but one of the times where food plays a big role in the celebrations, with special holiday food and drink that we all like to have. Delicious dinners, rich appetizers and all those yummy deserts are just as much a part of the holidays as the decorations and gifts. And at this time of year we’re all (even those of us who usually eat healthy) in the mood for a little indulgence.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that most of us will gain about a pound between Thanksgiving dinner and the New Year’s celebrations.
Sure that doesn’t sound like a lot, but the research also finds that this extra weight never comes back off.
So to help you keep your calorie intake under control, we’ve pulled together eight healthier options to the traditional holiday treats we all enjoy.
1) Cheese straws are made from a block of cheddar cheese combined with flour and as much as a full cup of butter. You’re better off snacking on pretzels, popcorn or some whole grain chips and salsa.
2) Swedish meatballs are a delicious appetizer but with a whopping 300 calories (just under half from fat) and include white bread, butter, heavy cream and salt laden beef broth. Choose a handful of mixed nuts of shrimp cocktail, or use some of the lighter recipes available.
3) Eggnog has not one redeeming nutritional aspect, and it’s easy to see why with things like sugar, eggs, whipping cream and bourbon. Instead choose beverages like hot chocolate or spiced cider. You might also try lighter versions of this holiday favorite if you simply must indulge, and remember to watch those potion sizes.
4) Stuffed potatoes while rich in vitamin C and fiber, when laden with cheese, sour cream and butter take a good thing to a bad place. To make them healthier use low fat dairy products, add good for you onions or spinach, and try turkey bacon or herbs for added flavor.
5) Creamed spinach is another case where holidays take a healthy veggie and add cream, butter and cheese to create a dish with more than 75% of your saturated fat for the day. Use low fat milk and light cream cheese instead of the cream when making this dish to save on calories.
6) Pot roast a popular and delicious part of the holidays, but even lean versions of this meat contain 7 grams of saturated fat. Add to that the calories from the gravy and you can see how the trouble starts. Consider lean beef tenderloin or the white meat of a turkey as healthier options.
7) Fruitcake does indeed have fruit, but it also includes plenty of butter, sugar and corn syrup, so that you’d actually be better off having a slice of pumpkin pie (about 250 calories/slice) instead. If this is your favorite, consider some lighter recipes and watch your portion sizes.
8) Pecan pie is centered around pecans which are a high calorie nut on their own, and then add sugar, butter and corn syrup to create a dessert where a single slice will deliver more than 500 calories, 20 grams of fat and 30 grams of sugar. Try lighter pies instead – apple, sweet potato or pear-cranberry versions.
And if you can’t resist calorie-laden holiday food and drink favorite, try and control the size of your portion. A single piece of pecan pie or half a loaded baked potato are ways to enjoy a rich taste, without all the calories, and pounds that won’t come off easily afterward.