Staying healthy and fit during the holidays is a noble goal, but groaning tables filled with traditionally rich foods will set you back and then some. But that doesn't mean you have to avoid holiday meal get-togethers. You just have to make choices in line with your way of eating. The best way to do that is to stick to the leaner, lighter fare like turkey, salads, roasted vegetables and fruity desserts, and pass on these traditional holiday foods.
Cheesecakes show up at every holiday meal, but they're available year-round. So don't throw away your day's calories on a single slice.
Cranberry sauce is a sugary condiment that is often disguised as a healthy fruit. Don't fall for the promise of vitamin C. Chop up peeled, seeded oranges instead. They make a great added flavor without all that hidden sugar and corn syrup.
Deep, spicy gingerbread with a sweet cream cheese frosting just screams "winter holidays." What it's not telling you, though, is how much sugar, fat and carbs are in each addictive slice. At nearly 300 calories for a single serving, with 37 grams of carbs, and the fact that you won't stop at one slice, consider skipping it altogether this year.
Rich, fatty with a crunchy, sugary crust, glazed hams are a popular Christmas dinner main dish. But that glaze and the fat ring come at a calorie cost. If you're looking to reduce this year, lean turkey breast is the better option.
Gravy is a standard flavor booster and a great way to mask overcooked meats or veggies. But it's also a lot of added calories. Instead of making gravy, buy a meat thermometer for perfectly done prime rib or turkey. And season your veggies as you cook them, so your guests will get all the flavor they need.
Less than a cup of green bean casserole has nearly 200 calories, mostly from the thick soup and fried onions that make the dish what it is.
Made with whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, and layers of cake and filling, trifles are festive and present well, but are sugar and fat bombs waiting to go off.
Just a little crack of peanut brittle is 100 calories, mostly from all the caramelized sugar and butter. It's standard in holiday tins and on Christmas dessert tables. And much better to skip if you're watching out for calories and carbs.
Potato pancakes are a rich Hanukkah tradition that show up on other holiday spreads as well. But they're shredded carbs, fried in oil and dipped in fatty sour cream—a hard pass if you're trying to get through the holidays without gaining weight.
The tender richness of prime rib is all due to the marbled fat that runs throughout (and around) this fine cut of meat. A rack of prime rib is a Christmas or New Year's dinner for many. But if you're watching fat intake, you might prefer to switch to a roasted chicken this year.
Just a cup of sausage stuffing will eat away 300 of your daily calories. If you plan to indulge in dessert, stuffing is a good trade-off.
Dark meat turkey is the juiciest for a reason: It's in the fattiest areas of the turkey. If you're watching calories and fat, stick to white meat, not turkey thighs. And definitely pass on the temptation of crispy, fatty turkey skin.
If you're going to drink your calories, save it for something like wine or champagne, which will also bring you a little antioxidant health benefit and joy. Don't take it in through a 400-plus calorie bomb that is a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks.
Oh, they're so beautiful. So tender, rich and tasty. But a yule log is another dessert that will undermine all the healthy eating you've done this year and during the holidays. Unless you really can't resist, take a pass on the 200-calorie slice, which will turn into seconds and possibly thirds.
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