The BBC recently announced that the average person will eat approximately 6,000 calories on Christmas day. Some doubt those findings, reporting that the average person may actually indulge in more than 8,000 calories. Whatever the final number, the consensus is in: For everyone, the holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry.
If you’re trying to stay fit and slim this Christmas season, there’s no need for extreme juice cleanses or torturing yourself with deprivation the next time someone brings Christmas treats to work. It’s all about choosing your battles and knowing what holiday foods to totally avoid and what foods may make a healthier substitute.
The Naughty List
These foods spell trouble and definitely land on Santa’s naughty list. You should avoid them unless you want a lump of coal in your stocking (and a few extra lumps around your waistline).
Put that pitcher down! The holiday drink is at every party, yet it’s full of cholesterol — thanks a lot, raw eggs — and saturated fat, to say nothing about the cream, sugar and total calories. A single serving can have 400 calories or more, plus more than 20 grams of sugar. That’s similar to drinking a few candy bars. At the bottom of the page, find an equally delicious alternative to this naughty treat (and all the other holiday bad guys in this list)!
Baked Cheese Platters
They’re easy to make and popular at potlucks, but they’re bad luck for your weight. A single serving of baked soft cheese, such as Brie or feta, can quickly add up to a fourth of your entire daily calorie allowance. And for a true shocker, keep in mind that a serving is about equal to the size of a couple AA batteries.
Nothing says holiday feast like a juicy slab of prime rib. The quintessential Christmas entree, it’s cut from the fattiest part of the cow. A tiny 3 oz. serving has approximately 300 calories and more than 20 grams of fat, including almost 10 grams of saturated fat. And most people wouldn’t stick to a 3 oz. portion.
Who can say no when this decadent treat is whipped out? Unfortunately, a serving of this pie has more than 800 calories, more than 60 grams of fat and more than 50 grams of sugar due to its rich, super-sweet filling. The pecan nuts are about the only healthy thing in this dessert.
The Nice List
These foods aren’t totally guilt-free, but no one wants to have a diet grinch at their holiday get-togethers. These treats work as the perfect, healthier alternative to The Naughty List.
Reach for hot chocolate, and you’ll skip most of the rich fats you’d get in eggnog. For a similarly festive drink, sip apple cider. It’s warm and spicy and smells delicious while saving you on calories and sugar.
Instead of reaching for soft cheeses, try a firmer, sharper cheese. Thin slices pack just as much rich flavor without all the rich calories and fat. Pair it with a lean meat and you have the perfect bite-sized appetizer.
Instead of prime rib, try beef tenderloin — just as flavorful, but much more lean. Or, opt for another holiday favorite: turkey. To save extra calories, stick with white meat and toss aside the skin.
When making pecan pie, try sweetening it with lower-calorie sweeteners instead of the traditional white sugar or corn syrup ingredients. Dates can also enhance its sweetness without as big of a calorie hit. Or, stick with other holiday favorites such as pumpkin pie or chocolate fondue — you’ll satisfy your sweet tooth without the sugar overload.