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 (as we've experienced first hand) lead to an uncontrolled binge of that exact food. Realistically, the idea is that these foods are eaten only a couple times throughout the holiday season, or that portions are cut in half (and no going back because something "didn't come out even":). But for those with the self-control "super power" who can avoid these--we admire 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 GOTTA HAVE IT: If you’re cooking, skip the butter, cut the sugar in half and top lightly with mini marshmallows. Otherwise, have 1-2 tablespoons (not 3+++) to satisfy your sweet tooth.

2. Stuffing

Traditional stuffing is mainly a combination of white bread, butter, a high-fat meat like sausage and some broth + herbs. A scoop of this can contain upwards of 550 calories!

If you GOTTA HAVE IT: Replace the butter with some more chicken or veggie broth. Skip the sausage or replace with your favorite nuts and dried cranberries or diced chicken breast (adding protein helps offset the carb blood sugar spike). Otherwise, keep your portion to a small serving 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 think you GOTTA HAVE IT: Rethink if a second on the lips, forever clogging arteries is worth it. Just go for the meat that was under the skin.

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, and the crust is basically butter, sugar and flour, owing to the more than 500 calories per slice.

If you GOTTA HAVE IT: Have a 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, lots of sugar and topped with alcohol, a cup of this liquid treat contains around 340 calories, half of which are from fat alone.

If you GOTTA HAVE IT: 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. Or make an "adult version" of this healthy egg nog.

top 7 holiday foods to avoid - sugary alcoholic drinks

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 GOTTA HAVE IT: Try mixing with soda water and a splash of citrus or a few muddled berries (kind of a homemade White Claw). 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 (since the whole point of symbolic Hannukah food is to eat what's fried in oil). It doesn't help if they are topped with sour cream. And chances are you probably won’t just have one of these.

If you GOTTA HAVE IT: If you’re cooking, try baking them instead and use cooking spray. If not, put only 1 large or 2 small ones on your plate, then skip the sour cream and pair with just the unsweetened applesauce.

For what you CAN have... check out 6 Recipes to Tame Your Holiday Cravings here.

By: Scarlett Full, in-house Registered Dietitian

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