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Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday (And Still Eat!)

Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday (And Still Eat!)


It’s a cruel fact of life that the same holiday foods that leave us feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside can leave us looking all plump and pudgy on the outside.

That one-cup serving of stuffing will set you back a whopping 340 calories.

The same amount of mashed potatoes packs 240 calories.

Oh, you wanted turkey gravy on that? Put yourself down for another 375 calories.

And what’s a holiday dinner without dessert, right? Well, a slice of pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream piles on another 500 calories.

Can You Say “Ho Ho – Uh Oh?”

Traditional holiday foods pack a big caloric punch, especially when you consider that the average woman should only consume about 1940 calories a day, while the typical man should take in about 2550 daily calories. It’s easy to see why the average American puts on five to ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

By going without seconds of your holiday favorites or substituting some lower calorie versions of the dishes, you can ensure that you don’t roll right along with the holidays.

Moderation is Key

Nutritionist Robin Bagby stresses moderation – not going without altogether – as the recipe for holiday eating success.

“You should enjoy your favorite foods in small amounts and not deny yourself a whole lot,” Bagby says. “There are no forbidden foods, only forbidden amounts.”

By snacking on more foods in smaller portions, Bagby suggests you can limit overeating and reduce calories while feeling fuller and eating less because you are spreading your eating out over a longer time.

Also, working a post-meal walk around the block, a family football game, or ice-skating excursion into your holiday routine will help quickly burn off some of the extra calories you’ve taken in.

Low-Calorie Options

For people who want to eat all they can without feeling guilty, there are plenty of healthy, easy-to-make, low-calorie versions of most of our beloved holiday dishes.

Eggnog, a notorious calorie culprit, packs about 343 calories into just a one-cup, alcohol-free serving. Substituting mostly egg whites or an egg substitute instead of whole eggs and fat-free milk instead of half-and-half can bring the festive drink back down to reasonable levels.

At the dinner table, eat more steamed vegetables and leaner cuts of meat, such as pork or beef tenderloin, instead of ham. If you just have to have your holiday turkey, avoid the skin and choose white meat, which is leaner than dark meat.

Other healthy holiday options include pumpkin, which when not sugared up and dumped into a buttery pie crust is actually quite low in calories and high in Vitamin A, and cranberries, which are full of Vitamin C, dietary fiber, and healthy antioxidants.

Holiday Recipes

These low-calorie recipes will help you keep your figure without sacrificing flavor this holiday season:

Fall Fruit Salad (serves 4)


  • 2 green apples
  • 2 Bosc pears
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup green grapes
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons white grape juice

Cooking Instructions:

1. Core and slice the apples and pears, place in a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

2. Add grapes and lemon zest, sprinkle entire mixture with grape juice.

3. Gently toss the ingredients together to combine, being careful not to bruise the fruit.

Nutrition Facts:

  • Serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 110

Cranberry Sherbet (serves 8)


  • 1 pkg. low-calorie raspberry gelatin dessert
  • 1 c. boiling low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 c. cold low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 c. evaporate skin milk

Cooking Instructions:

1. Dissolve gelatin in boiling juice; add cold liquid and beat with electric beater or wire whisk until well blended.

2. Freeze in a shallow pan for about 1 ½ hours or until crystals form about 1 inch from edge of pan.

3. Beat until creamy; return mixture to pan and freeze, stirring occasionally until mixture is frozen but slightly mushy (about 1 ½ to 2 hours).

Nutrition Facts:

  • Serving size: ½ cup
  • Calories: 50

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