Whether your weakness is the loaded green bean casserole, pecan pie or rum-spiked eggnog, the holiday season is packed with one belly-busting temptation after another. Studies show the average person consumes an extra 600 calories a day between Thanksgiving and New Year's, which translates to approximately six pounds of excess weight.
While everyone's entitled to a little indulgence, especially around the holiday season, there's a fine line between festive and fattening. Fortunately, making simple food swaps helps keep the pounds down without sacrificing the holiday spirit. You don't have to diet. You don't have to deprive yourself. These are a few favorites I’ve found can be more satisfying throughout the holidays, especially when you don’t have guilt over your head as you make the better choices.
When headed to a party, master the buffet by using a small plate . Be mindful of what you drink. The average American consumes about 450 liquid calories a day. Try protein-based snacks, like jumbo shrimp, or cheese (swiss or mozzarella are your better cheese choices), which will make you feel full longer than carb-loaded breads will.
One of the most frequent questions I hear is, “what is the healthier alcoholic drink to choose?" For the fewest calories per drink, choose light beer or wine. Light or low-carb beers are available with as few as 70 calories, but a typical beer or glass of wine generally contains between 100 and 150 calories. Remember, too, that the size of the glass and serving makes a big difference. A single 'glass' of wine may actually be two servings, so try to measure keep your wine glass consistent with 4 oz. Below are some other popular alternatives when imbibing Worst cocktailGin and tonic (8 ounces) 240 calories 22 g sugars
Alternative DrinkChampagne 100 calories 5 g sugars
The sad truth is that light-tasting tonic water contains as much sugar as two glazed doughnuts, making it nothing more than a glorified soda. Champagne is just as bubbly but contains only one-fourth of the sugar and half the calories.
Dip Worst dipSpinach and artichoke dip 300 calories 19 g fat
The wrong dip can transform healthy veggies and a whole grain pita into vessels for fat and hundreds of extra calories of which is unnecessary. Avoid creamy, cheesy dips at all costs and stick to the tomato-based salsas and bruschetta , which are low-calorie and offer a healthy serving of vegetables to boot.
Worst sideBaked potato with butter and sour cream 400 calories 14 g fat (6 g saturated)
The difference here is in the toppings. Add bacon and cheese to the mix, and add an extra 150 calories. Another smart sides rule: Not all salads are paragons of virtue. Greens with croutons and Italian dressing pack in 140 more calories than a serving of peas with pearl onions.
Hot Drinks Worst hot drinkWhite chocolate mocha (20 ounces) 660 calories 22 g fat (15 g saturated) 95 g sugars
AlternativeCafé au lait with peppermint syrup (20 ounces) 150 calories 5 g fat (3.5 g saturated) 17 g sugars
Sugary coffee concoctions are a holiday shopping staple, but the wrong one could deliver more calories than a greasy burger at your local fast food joint! Avoid mochas, lattes and cappuccinos and order a café au lait with a spurt of flavored syrup instead.
Desserts Worst dessertPecan pie à la mode 810 calories 65 g fat 55 g sugars
In the wide world of holiday pies, nothing is worse than a slice of pecan. Blame the filling, which is sickly-sweet sludge of corn syrup and sugar. Fondue, in comparison, is a fun and relatively healthy way to splurge after a big meal. Angel food cake makes an ideal dipper: light, low in calories and virtually fat-free. Fruit is even better, try dipping some apples, pineapple, strawberries or even bananas.
The bottom line is, no one wants to start 2011 with six extra pounds. Some simple food swaps will make holiday weight gain a thing of the past.