Holiday Foods, the Good and the Bad

It’s that time of year again.  The time for friend and family gatherings, singing, decorating, and holiday cheers.  And while the holidays also usually include some tasty, festive treats, holiday cuisine can take its toll on one’s body.

For Thanksgiving, I posted some tips on how to keep your physique in tact over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Keeping those tips in mind, this post is going delve deeper into the eating side of the holiday season, specifically addressing which dishes you should definitely keep yourself away from over the upcoming days of celebration.  Check out some of the worst dishes of holiday gatherings, and some alternatives you can turn to instead.

Worst Appetizer:  Pigs in a blanket-  Just one bite-sized “pig” packs in 65 calories and 8% of your day’s fat.  Eat three bites, and you’re well on your way to a 200 calorie snack.

Healthy Alternative: If you must munch before the main meal or have a bite while at a party, reach for the crudites.  Baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, and other assorted vegetables pack in an array of nutrients instead of loads of calories.  If you reach for the vegetables, you can harmlessly take more than a few bites.

Worst Holiday Drink: Eggnog-  One glass of this creamy drink contains about the equivalent to about a half a meal of calories.  Per 8 oz., eggnog contains approximately 350 calories, 19 grams of fat, and 56% of your daily recommended allowance of saturated fat….That’s a lot of unhealthiness packed into one cup.  Spice the eggnog with alcohol, and the numbers only keep going up.

Healthy Alternative: If you’re yearning to indulge in a seasonal drink with a little sweetness, try sipping on some hot chocolate.  Typical hot chocolate contains about 110 calories per cup, less than half the amount in eggnog.  Use low-fat milk or soy milk to make the drink, and the fat content will remain relatively low.

Worst Holiday Cocktail: Mulled wine may seem like a sweet and spicy delight to you taste buds, but it’s not so delightful for your body.  With 256 calories and a whopping 29 grams of sugar per serving, this drink will send you and your body crashing.  Leave the aromatic spices to please your nose, not your mouth.

Healthy Alternative: As the cold weather approaches, warm yourself up with a big mug of tea rather than automatically reaching for the alcohol.  Try Celestial Seasoning’s Gingerbread Spice for a great holiday treat.

Worst Entree: Turducken-  I’m not sure whose idea it was to stuff a chicken into a duck into a turkey, but who ever came up with this was crazy!  Thismeat-lovers dream is packed with more than just meat.  It also contains an approximate 836 calories and 52 grams of fat per

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serving.  That right there provides enough calories and more than enough fat for your whole holiday meal.

Healthy Alternative: Instead of centering your plate around the meat, make the vegetables of the meal (green beans, salad,  yams, greens, etc.) the main focus.  Fill at least half of your plate with veggies, and then serve yourself small portions of the remaining side dishes.  If you do eat meat, opt for a lean meat, such as grilled chicken or roasted turkey breast.

Worst Side Dish: Candied sweet potatoes-  As a kid, I loved my mom’s sweet potato casserole topped with

gooey, melted marshmallows.  Now both my taste buds (much to sweet for me now) and my body knows better.  Candied yams are loaded with sugar (according to msnbc, 26 grams per serving) and contain about 320 calories and 12 grams of fat per serving.

Healthy Alternative: Baked sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and really don’t need any sugar added to them.  They are also filled with nutrients, such as beta carotene.  A typical sweet potato only contains 180 calories and 12 grams of sugar, less than half of the sugar in it’s doctored counterpart.

Worst Dessert: Pecan pie may be a sweet ending, but it’s definitely won’t provide your body a happy ending.  Just one slice contains about 500 calories, 27 grams of fat, and a quarter of your day’s saturated fat.  If you add a scoop of ice cream, your plate of pie becomes a meal in itself.

Healthy Alternative: How about ending your meal with some fruit?  Fruit is naturally sweet and typically contains tons of vitamins and nutrients, without the cost of too many calories..  Choose something you wouldn’t normally have on a daily basis, such as a mango or papaya, which will turn your view of fruit as “health-food” into a treat.

We all have our favorite treats, and while these treats aren’t always healthy for us, it’s okay to indulge once in awhile. My philosophy:  Life is all about enjoying yourself and having fun.  If this means eating your favorite Christmas cookie, then so be it.  The end of the year holidays only come around once a year, so let go and don’t be too hard on yourself.  However, stick with indulging in solely your favorite treat, not all the other trillion options of goodies at the table.  Allow yourself to enjoy your favorite holiday indulgence, and don’t feel guilty about it, but mindfully stop yourself after just one.

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  • Reply
    December 4, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Great tips! I love the reminder to choose wisely and to only indulge in our true favorites. So often we take the holiday season as an excuse to eat “everything”…

  • Reply
    Gelareh @ Orange Truffle
    December 4, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Thanks for posting this. Great tips and a good reminder that there are healthier options that are just as yummy as the unhealthy ones.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2009 at 11:49 am

    thanks for all the wonderful tips honey!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Awesome post!
    Thankfully, I’m not a fan of eggnog, but my mom is and last year she tried Silk’s Eggnog (which is lowfat and all) and she really liked it! So that’s always a good alternative too! 😀

  • Reply
    Candied Yams Recipe Candied Yams with Marshmallows Yams with Marshmallows
    December 4, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    […] Holiday Foods, the Good and the Bad « Food-Fitness-FreshAir […]

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    December 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I always end up getting more excited about the appetizers than the main dish, but I still have to remember I can eat more than a meal in “small bites”!!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Soooooooooo sad about the pecan pie!! I can pass on everything BUT the pecan pie!

    Egg nog = EWWWWWWW!!!!!

    And, I like your philosophy…I couldn’t agree more!

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    December 4, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Fantastic post!! These are all such wonderful suggestions.
    I agree with you on the turducken front, I mean, what the heck?! It’s so random. I only just learned about them on Top Chef last season. When I learned what it was I was so confused…I mean, what?! Crazy.

    I found a really greae recipe on for eggnog, which I am going to be making into a lower calories and lower fat version the next time I am featured on the NBC Columbus news! Hopefully I can post it and you can check it ou 🙂

  • Reply
    December 4, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Great great post!! I actually prefer the “healthier options” on here anyway…but I think it’s because the others aren’t something I’d typically eat anyways…now cookies, desserts, ham, mashed potatoes, wine, and 2nd, 3rd, 4th servings…that’s another story haha 😉

  • Reply
    December 4, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Hi, first visit to your blog. Great post. It’s always nice to have some alternatives. I love Celestial Seasons tea. I hope my grocery store carries the gingerbread spice tea you mentioned.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Good tips. I like the sweet potato one. I had mashed sweet taters for Thanksgiving and they were better then the candied version which is almost too sweet.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Another good post. I am afraid I get too introspective in some of my posts (such as today), but sometimes I feel it might be best to write what I feel at the moment , rather than force something professional. I wish I had the professionalism you have in your blog. Maybe with time I will learn to stop blending the personal and professional and choose one theme. When I am too personal (like today), I worry and tend to regret it a bit. But maybe it is best to write what we feel. Tricky, no? I fear I will regret letting some of “me” slip into the blog today. How to balance that? The compulsion to erase it, or forget that and allow it to stay there…

  • Reply
    December 6, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Awww gross about the egg nog and mulled wine. I don’t like drinking my calories regardless of these stats- but thats some serious caloric damage! hahah Turducken. Made me giggle.

    Also-The pecan pie is pretty hefty as well, and sweet potato casserole. For instance, at Thanksgiving the sweet potatoes are one my favorite side items, but I only eat a little bit. Worth a few bites. 🙂 Sans marshmallows.

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