The holidays and eating go hand in hand—as they should. Everyone deserves a little indulgence. There’s a way to do it without throwing away an entire week’s, month’s, or year’s worth of healthy choices, however. The key is knowing the facts. Some of your seasonal favorites may seem harmless when in reality they’re major calories bombs. The good news is there’s almost always an alternative that tastes just as good but is a much smarter decision. And we’ve done all of the nutritional information digging for you.
Scroll through for an eye-opening guide to the best and worst holiday-season eats!
Worst: Cauliflower, lentils, broccoli
Eat this instead: Red peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes
Usually we feel we can eat endless amounts of veggies, but what we need to keep in mind is that they create gas, causing us to feel bloated in our cute party outfits. Instead red peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes can be more easily digested and won’t cause that bloated feeling. All three are high in water content, which will help you flush out any sins that you may commit.
Worst: Baked potato with butter and sour cream
14 g fat
Eat this instead: Roasted red potatoes
5 g fat
The difference here is the toppings. When you add bacon and cheese to the mix, you add an extra 150 calories.
Worst: Green bean casserole
14 g fat
Eat this instead: Vegetable casserole
9 g fat
Mom’s green bean casserole made with cream of mushroom soup, classic sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows, and potato casserole oozing with cheese may all taste amazing, but you can't smother side dishes with sugar and fat and still call them “vegetables.” Instead, opt for a veggie casserole. This nutrient-dense, low-fat side will offset some of the high-calorie or sugary dishes on your plate.
Worst: Prime rib
51 g fat
Eat this instead: Turkey
6 g fat
Often the star of the holiday buffet, prime rib is strikingly fatty, and we’re all guilty of having seconds and maybe even leftovers. Just 3 ounces carries 12 grams of saturated fat, and most people eat twice that amount. Instead, opt for a leaner, cleaner main dish, like roast turkey.
Worst: Caramel corn (1 cup)
36 g carbohydrate
11 g fat
Eat this instead: Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop! Microwave Kettle Korn (1 cup)
4 g carbohydrates
0 g fat
Popcorn is typically a healthy snack choice, but caramel corn is loaded with sugar and butter and calories and fat. Snacking on Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop! Kettle Korn saves many calories and carbohydrates because it's sweetened with a sugar substitute.
Worst: Gin and tonic
22 g sugar
Drink this instead: Champagne
5 g sugar
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 surprisingly contains only one-fourth of the sugar and half the calories.
19 g fat
Drink this instead: Skinny Nog
11 1/2 g sugar
Give eggnog a much-needed healthy makeover using a naturally calorie-free, seasonally flavored seltzer and skip the added sugar, sodium, or preservatives. The seltzer's limited-edition flavor gives this drink all the richness of a typical eggnog without the extra fat.
Worst: White chocolate mocha (20 oz.)
22 g fat (15 g saturated)
95 g sugar
Drink this instead: Café au lait with peppermint syrup (20 oz.)
5 g fat (3 1/2 g saturated)
17 g sugar
Sugary coffee drinks are a holiday shopping staple—but the wrong one can deliver more calories than a Big Mac! Avoid mochas, lattes, and cappuccinos, instead opting for a café au lait with a spurt of flavored syrup.
Worst: Pecan pie à la mode
65 g fat
55 g sugar
Eat this instead: Pumpkin pie
14 g fat
25 g sugar
In the world of holiday pies, nothing is worse than a slice of pecan. Blame the filling, which is a sickly sweet sludge of corn syrup and sugar. Pumpkin will save you 30 grams of sugar and a whopping 51 grams of fat (oh, and hundreds of calories, too).
What's your favorite healthy alternative to seasonal eats? Let us know in the comments below!