The Best and Worst Holiday Foods from The Best and Worst Holiday Foods

The Best and Worst Holiday Foods

Full Story

Thinkstock

The Best and Worst Holiday Foods

One of the reasons why holidays are the best time of the year is becomes the food is delicious and people often get to eat as much as they want, guilt-free – until January 1 comes and you regret almost everything you’ve consumed because you gained weight. “While calories are important, moderating your food portions is essential,” Dr. Caroline Cederquist, founder of bistroMD, a doctor designed and chef-prepared healthy meal delivery service. “Rather than avoiding certain foods, add them onto your plate while practicing moderation.”

Thinkstock

Worst: Eggnog

“Regular eggnog could have as much as 180 calories per half-cup serving and could contain as much as 6 grams of saturated fat, which is actually 30 percent of your daily recommended intake,” Dr. Cederquist says. “This is mostly because eggnog is made with whole milk, contains a ton of sugar and is usually made with heavy cream.” Eggnog does contain protein, but it comes with the steep price of calories and saturated fat, she adds.

Thinkstock

Best: Dark chocolate

Dr. Cederquist recommends dark chocolate or a nut-based dessert to satisfy your sweet craving. At least they are treats that are not all empty calories and sugar. This sweet treat will even help you relax. The theobromine it contains has been shown to produce a happy feeling. It increases blood flow and reduces feelings of anxiety and stress. Also, cocoa contains immune-boosting antioxidants that likely play a role in supporting cardiovascular health.

Shutterstock

Worst: Candy canes

A 6-inch peppermint candy cane alone has 60 calories – all carbs. One delicious can has 14 grams of carbs, all of which are pure sugar. These sweets don’t offer any nourishment so why use up your recommended daily calorie intake on them? “If you are craving the peppermint flavor of candy canes, try adding a couple drops of peppermint essential oil to your water or add to your chocolate protein shake to start your day,” Dr. Cederquist says.

Thinkstock

Best: Fresh fruits

“Satisfy your sweet tooth by choosing desserts that include fresh fruit, are bite-sized and/or contain healthy fats and protein, like nut clusters,” Dr. Cederquist says. Fruits add essential nutrients to diets, reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and help manage healthy body weight. Add ricotta cheese, a good source of protein, for an extra flavor.

Shutterstock

Worst: Cheese straws

Traditionally cheese straws are comprised of cheese, flour, butter and seasonings, Dr. Cederquist says. They are then formed into a shape and baked. “The ingredients make them calorically dense so limit yourself to a few,” she adds. 

Shutterstock

Best: Hot cocoa

Hot cocoa can contain a ton of calories, but it doesn’t contain a high-level of saturated fat per serving,” Dr. Cederquist says. “Hot cocoa made with natural cocoa powder can actually give you a dose of antioxidants, which have been shown to improve stress levels and have also been shown to lower your risk of heart disease.”

Pixabay

Worst: Pot roast

“Pot roast tends to utilize a less lean cut of meat than I’d typically recommend; however, the long cooking time allows much of the fat to render out,” Dr. Cederquist says. “When this is the main meal feature at a gathering, opt for more vegetables than meat.”

Shutterstock

Best: Hummus and yogurt dip

Veggies on a stick with a side of hummus are a great balance of micronutrients, protein and good quality, monounsaturated fat. Hummus has a high content of vitamin B6 and tryptophan, which are crucial for regular sleep patterns. Yogurt is a healthy substitute as well. It gives your body simple carbohydrates and protein.

Shutterstock

Worst: Cheesecake

The cream cheese, sugar, salt, eggs, sour cream and whipped cream – all delicious ingredients – are what make the dessert unhealthy. It is very high in fat and salt. “If you have the ability to make a healthier version of a dessert, why not try it?!” Dr. Cederquist says. For example, the experts at bistroMD created a healthier version of the holiday bark: Festive Holiday Cranberry Bark, and it’s diabetic-friendly.

Shutterstock

Best: Salads

“The best salads include multiple types of salad leaves – the richer the color, generally the more nutrients packed into the leaves – topped with grains, beans and proteins, such as hard boiled eggs or shredded chicken,” Dr. Cederquist says.

Shutterstock

Worst: Salad dressings and creamed spinach dip

Just one tablespoon of Italian dressing has 243 mg of sodium; Balsamic Vinaigrette has 280 mg. Ranch is a little better with 122 mg of salt in one tablespoon. Avoid salads that are drenched in dressing and have little variety of fresh veggies, Dr. Cederquist recommends. A single side of creamed spinach (6.03 oz.) contains 260 calories and 21 grams of fat, 12 are saturated fat which is 60 percent of the recommended daily value. This delicious dip ranks badly in the sodium category, too.

Shutterstock

Best: Certain soups

“A hearty soup full of vegetables, legumes and lean protein, such as a hearty chili or winter vegetable” is your best option, Dr. Cederquist says. When choosing soups that come in a box, pay close attention to the labels. Check the sodium content and ingredient list. Too much sodium can start a vicious cycle of bad events in your body. Avoid cream-based soups as well; the turn good soups into high-calorie calamities.

Shutterstock

Worst: White bread

Stick to whole grain, fiber rich carbohydrates such whole wheat bread,” Dr. Cederquist says. “Stay away from breads that don’t provide any nutritional value, like white bread; there's typically less fiber and less nutritional benefits.”

Shutterstock

Best: Mashed sweet potatoes

“Mashed potatoes are a prefect holiday staple to any holiday menu, so try substituting regular potatoes with sweet potatoes – it’s an excellent source of beta-carotene, which our bodies use to make vitamin A,” Dr. Cederquist says. Instead of butter and heavy cream, try a homemade nut-based cream by soaking cashews in water until soft and then blend, she recommends. “You will be surprised at the creaminess this adds to your potatoes!”

Shutterstock

Bad but good: Yule log

Yule log contains mostly carbs and fat. “However, if you have a favorite treat or holiday tradition, don’t skip it. […] Just be sure to not consume too much,” Dr. Cederquist says. “Studies have found that when you avoid strong cravings you tend to eventually overdo it at a later date, so go ahead and have those homemade mashed potatoes or that glass of eggnog, just don’t overdo it.”

The Best and Worst Holiday Foods