Holiday Foods: The Good and The Bad (cont.)

Choose wisely, Bissex recommends.

"Pick what to splurge on rather than mindlessly nibbling on any party food that comes your way," she says.

Knowing the calorie counts of holiday foods may stop you from reaching for another ladle of gravy, a second piece of cheesecake, or another cup of egg nog.

Food Calories
Egg nog with alcohol, 1 cup 360
Gravy, 1/4 cup 47
Pecan pie, 1/8 of 9-inch pie 503
Pumpkin pie, 1/8 of 9-inch pie 204
Cheesecake, 1/6 of cake 257
Cheddar cheese, 1 ounce 114
Snack chips, 1 ounce 138
Sugar cookies, 2 small 132
Hershey Kisses, 9 pieces 230
Fudge, 1 ounce 140
Potato latke, 1 medium 257
Stuffing, 1/2 cup 179
Mixed nuts, 1 ounce 175
Mashed potatoes (made with
milk and butter), 1 cup

The buffet table is groaning under the weight of holiday goodies, but food is not alone in packing on the pounds. Alternate alcoholic beverages with calorie-free drinks, such as water or diet soda, at parties or family gatherings. You'll feel better the next day, and take in far fewer calories.

Beverages Calories
White Russian, 8 ounces 715
Gin and Tonic, 8 ounces 192
Rum, 1.5 ounces 116
Wine, 4 ounces 98
Wine spritzer, 4 ounces (made with 2 ounces wine and diet ginger ale) 49

(Note: The white Russian is made with 1.5 ounces each vodka and coffee liqueur and 6.5 ounces light cream; gin and tonic has 1.5 ounces gin and 6.5 ounces tonic water.)

Don't Let Holiday Foods Get the Best of You

Curb calories from so-called naughty foods by taking tiny portions. The first few bites of any food provide the most pleasure. Once you've finished your treat, fight the urge for more.

  • Sit far from buffet tables, candy dishes, and cookie-laden platters.
  • Excuse yourself from the dinner table when done eating.
  • Keep your mouth busy by talking with friends and family.
  • Chew gum or suck on a sugarless breath mint to prevent picking.
  • If you're able, brush your teeth; the taste of toothpaste dulls taste buds.

Making Holiday Foods Healthier

Food preparation techniques that reduce calories, fat, and sodium go a long way to keeping you healthy during the holidays. Lighten up your favorite holiday foods and create new recipes with these 15 tips:

  1. Mash white potatoes with low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth instead of milk, butter, and salt.
  2. Roast vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, green beans, squash, and carrots to bring out their natural flavor.
  3. Prepare favorite dips with fat-free sour cream or yogurt.
  4. Mash cooked sweet potatoes with orange juice instead of butter.
  5. Skip one of the crusts on fruit pies; prepare a fruit crisp instead of pie.
  6. Use a gravy separator to skim the fat when making gravy.
  7. Make a low-fat cheese sauce for casseroles.
  8. Substitute heart-healthy canola oil for butter and margarine.
  9. Consider lean pork tenderloin for holiday meals instead of fattier or saltier meats.
  10. Use part-skim or fat-free cheeses to make dishes such as cheesecake or lasagna.
  11. Prepare bread pudding with fat-free egg nog instead of full-fat milk for extra flavor; add raisins or dried fruit for more fiber.
  12. Prepare just one striking dessert and offer fruit, such as chocolate-dipped whole strawberries, instead of cookies and candy.
  13. For a festive appetizer, mix equal amounts of fat-free salsa and low-fat cottage cheese; serve with homemade whole-wheat pita chips or cut-up vegetables.
  14. Make a black bean dip flavored with lime juice and cilantro instead of salt.
  15. Let your guests nibble on homemade trail mix made with whole-grain cereal, dry roasted peanuts, and dried cranberries instead of fatty chips or other high-fat appetizers.

Published Nov. 2, 2006.

SOURCES: Patricia Vasconcellos, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association. Janice Bissex, MS, RD, nutrition consultant; co-author, The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeover. Yanovski, J. New England Journal of Medicine, March 23, 2000; vol 342: pp 861-867. National Institute of Medicine; United States Department of Agriculture, on-line nutrient data base, Agricultural Research Service.

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Last Editorial Review: 11/3/2006