Top 7 Holiday Foods to Avoid
Avoid is a strong word. In fact, depriving yourself of “unhealthy” foods that you like can ultimately backfire and lead to an uncontrolled binge of that exact food. Realistically, the idea is that these foods are eaten at a minimum throughout the holiday season, or that portions are strictly controlled. But for those with great self-control who can avoid these–we applaud you!
1. Sweet potato casserole
Sweet potatoes (alone) pack a nutritional punch, being loaded with vitamin A, along with vitamin C, B6, manganese, potassium and other minerals. But when you pair this super food with tons of marshmallows, butter and sugar it basically offsets their benefits.
If you MUST have: If you’re cooking, skip the butter, cut the sugar in half and top lightly with mini marshmallows. Otherwise, have a tablespoon-sized serving (or two) to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Traditional stuffing is mainly a combination of white bread, butter, a high-fat meat like sausage and some herbs. A scoop of this can contain upwards of 550 calories!
If you MUST have: Replace the butter with some chicken or veggie broth. Skip the sausage or replace with your favorite nuts and dried cranberries or diced chicken breast. Otherwise, keep your portion to a small spoonful.
3. Turkey (poultry) skin
Poultry skin is a minefield of artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising, saturated fats! This also means loads of calories for even a tiny piece.
If you MUST have: Not worth it. Skip the turkey skin–do it for your heart!
4. Pecan pie
Pecans are the fattiest of all nuts. But, it is healthy plant-based fat which means no saturated fat or cholesterol. But in pie formation, pecans are typically drowned in sugar and butter, owing to the more than 500 calories per slice.
If you MUST have: Have a tiny sliver of pie and skip the crust. Alternately, choose pumpkin pie or just have a handful of candied pecans to satisfy your sweet tooth.
5. Egg nog
If cake could be a drink, this would be it. Made typically from heavy cream, eggs, sugar and topped with alcohol, a cup of this liquid treat contains around 340 calories, half of which are from fat alone.
If you MUST have: Use skim or non-dairy milk milk, egg substitutes and a sugar substitute like stevia to make a low calorie version. Limit yourself to one glass and then switch to a lower calorie drink or water.
6. Sugary mixed drinks
Juice and soda mixers can easily add over 100 calories per drink on top of the calories from the alcohol (at least 100 calories per 1.5 ounce of vodka or spiced rum).
If you MUST have: Try mixing with soda water and a splash of citrus or a few muddled berries. Alternate every drink with a glass of water.
7. Potato Pancakes
Otherwise known as latkes, these traditionally fried Jewish treats can have more than 250 calories per medium sized cake. Especially if they are topped with sour cream. And chances are you probably won’t just have one of these.
If you MUST have: If you’re cooking, try baking them instead and use cooking spray. If not, skip the sour cream and pair with unsweetened applesauce instead.
By: Scarlett Full, in-house Registered Dietitian