Posted by

First of all, there really are no "good" foods and "bad" foods. While certainly, there are many foods that severely lack nutritional value, it doesn't mean that you have to wave goodbye to them forever. Even the worst of foods can still make their way into a healthy diet as long as they are surrounded and overtaken by healthier foods. But the holidays bring an uneven weight toward unhealthy food, so knowing the "best" versus the "worst" can help you navigate toward a healthier plate.

The best:

  • The meat- Generally, the main entrée, unless its prime rib, is not the worst offender. Turkey, ham, pork loin, Cornish game hen, or even a beef roast can be good options to cover the recommended fourth of a plate. The protein will help you feel full so you aren't as tempted to overeat on the sides and desserts.
  • Shrimp cocktail- This appetizer won't rack up the calories, even if you eat a dozen of them! One jumbo shrimp with one teaspoon of cocktail sauce is only 18 calories!
  • Vegetable tray- Boring? Maybe. But it's a good way to sneak in some vegetables without added fats and sodium. Just beware of the dips that often accompany the tray. Just two tablespoons can be well over 100 calories.

The worst:

  • The dips- Speaking of dips, the holiday tables seem to be full of them. Vegetable dips, chip dips, bread dips, and cheese and cracker dips, are just a few of the wrongdoers. It's not so much that they are extremely high in calories, it's that our fingers tend to gravitate towards them time and time again.
  • Eggnog- Eggs, sugar, heavy cream, alcohol; need I say more?
  • Pecan pie- This is a seemingly innocent dessert filled with heart-healthy nuts. Add lots of sugar, lots of butter and lots of eggs and those nutritious nuts turn into nutritional nightmares. One slice of pie will set you back at least 540 calories and 22 grams of fat.

Keeping off the holiday pounds and consuming a diet of nutritious foods is no easy task. Bring the shrimp cocktail or vegetable tray to the party, but don't bring home the cookies, fudge, and pie. Keep your kitchen full of conveniently cut fruits and vegetables to gain control. If you only have to witness the unhealthy goodies at holiday parties, it's easier to stay on a healthy track. Stock your cabinets full of healthy ingredients that can be turned into easy, delicious meals!

Holiday Sangria

4 cups light cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
3 cups club soda
1/2-1 packet (3.2 oz.) low calorie cherry pomegranate mix
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 apple, sliced
1 cup red grapes, cut in half

In a large pitcher, stir all ingredients together. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional analysis per serving: 70 calories, 0 grams fat, 40 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 0 grams protein