There’s something about the holiday season that makes people want to throw out their diet or healthy lifestyle and start eating whatever they want. Whether this is because it’s the end of the year or because of the abundance of treats and traditional family foods remains to be seen, but the temptation is very real. There are also many holiday parties, holiday goodies and treats available to make it even easier to cheat on a healthy way of living.
As you get close to Christmas and the end of the holiday season, the temptation to cheat can get even stronger. However, there are plenty of healthy options for your holiday table, so that you don’t have the guilt that comes the next day.
Which foods are on the naughty list or the nice list? Read on to find out.
- Christmas cookies: Even though these are a favorite of Santa, Christmas cookies are not so great for the waistline. Christmas cookies are high in fat and sugar, and the calorie count can easily add up. What’s particularly tricky about Christmas cookies is the large number and types of them. Most people make multiple recipes or participate in cookie exchanges so that they have several different types at home or work. This makes it really easy to try multiple varieties or overindulge.
- Eggnog: A holiday favorite, eggnog is made from cream, egg yolks, sugar and whiskey. All of these are also high in fat and calories and can really set back a diet. Another big problem with alcoholic beverages is that drinking can make it easier to cheat on your healthy diet. People are way more likely to give in to a craving for a pizza or burrito after a night of drinking. It can be really hard to make healthy food decisions when drinking alcohol.
- Pasta: Many families serve a form of pasta (ziti, lasagna, etc.) as part of their holiday meal. These dishes are often covered in cheese, which contains a lot of fat and calories. In addition, the pasta is high in sugar and carbohydrates.
- Pie and other desserts: In addition to the traditional Christmas Cookies, there are often many different desserts, pies, candies and chocolates floating around during the holidays. Many people see these treats pop up on their desks or in the break rooms at work, or at holiday parties. These are usually not great for a healthy diet either, due to the high amounts of sugar found in these sweet treats.
- Swedish meatballs: Sorry, but this holiday traditional food is not diet-friendly. These are often made with breadcrumbs, beef and eggs, all of which can raise the calorie count to higher than expected.
- Turkey: Turkey is actually a good choice at the holiday table. Stick to the white meat, and avoid the skin. Both the dark meat and skin contain extra fat, which just adds extra calories.
- The Veggie Platter: If you’re at a holiday party, fill your plate with vegetables from the veggie appetizer platter. Munching on lots of healthy and crunchy veggie can be very satisfying, but it is important to avoid fat-filled dips or dressings. In general, it is best to opt for your veggies plain, unless you can see what is actually in the dip by reading the nutrition label.
- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Skip the sugar and butter filled casserole and opt for a baked sweet potato instead. Top with a sprinkling of cinnamon for some extra flavor.
- Nuts: Roasted or unshelled nuts can actually be pretty healthy in moderation. Nuts are packed full of protein and healthy fats and are a great addition to your holiday appetizers. It is super important to remember to not overindulge in these though; a cup of dry roasted and salted nuts can easily run around 800 calories.
- Vegetable side dishes: Filling your plate with vegetables and salads is your best bet, especially at a holiday dinner or party. Vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories, fat and sugar. Avoid any side dishes that are covered in cream-based sauces or cheese to help minimize the calorie count.
- Fish: If your family participates in the tradition of eating fish or seafood on Christmas Eve, you are in luck! Fish (as long as it isn’t fried or covered in a cream sauce) is generally a healthy choice. Opt for seafood that has been baked, roasted or grilled to keep the calorie count down.
While the holidays are a time to enjoy yourself, there are many different traditional options that don’t have to break the calorie bank. Making a few healthy substitutions can go a long way to helping you keep the extra pounds off and maintain your healthy lifestyle into the New Year.
If you need help getting through the holidays, check in with your Medifast Certified Weight Loss Counselor for more information or extra support.