Healthy Holiday Food Rules

Which foods are on the nice list… and which are on the naughty list?
Which foods are on the nice list... and which are on the naughty list?
Which foods are on the nice list… and which are on the naughty list?

So, the BIG day is almost here (countdown to Santa!). So far you’ve been on the “nice” list – you’ve kept up with your workouts for the sake of the scale and your sanity, limited the crazy Christmas cocktails and for the most part stuck to your healthy eating plan, minus the odd cookie– so don’t blow it and get demoted to the “naughty” list in the eleventh hour. The last two big tests are the Christmas Eve party (and its smorgasbord of sweets) and Christmas Day dinner (and its multiple helpings of food). To help navigate both like a pro, I went to Sarah Jones, Nutrition Counselor for Mountainside Fitness Scottsdale. Here, the nutritionist gives her “yay” or “nay” on your fave holiday eats…

Yay or Nay: Egg Nog
Nay! Eggnog calories add up quickly, especially when it’s spiked. Traditional eggnog is high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sugar.  If you prefer the traditional route, there are light versions that cut the fat content. Or, if you’re looking for something dairy-free with ½ the fat and calories, try an “alterna-nog” like coconut or soy-nog. That way if you want an adult beverage, you still have room to be naughty.

Yay or Nay: Party Nuts
Yay! Party nuts provide healthy fats and protein, but stick with one open palm full. The calories can add up in a hurry.

Yay or Nay: Veggies and Dip
Yay! Yes to the fiber-filled veggies, but go light on the dip – 2 tablespoons will provide a moderate serving.

Yay or Nay: Honey Baked Ham
Yay! Honey baked ham provides a healthy dose of protein and iron, but it’s really the type of ham that you want to focus on. Choose a less processed, high-quality ham, free of nitrates and low in salt and you’re good to go. Otherwise, be mindful of your portions – stick to a serving size that looks like a deck of cards.

Yay or Nay: Prime Rib
Yay and nay. Prime rib
is one of those grey areas. It’s particularly high in saturated fat (the fat we want to limit to 10% or less of our total fat intake for the day), but it’s a good source of protein. It you stick to a modest portion, it’s certainly okay to enjoy it once in a while.

Yay or Nay: Mashed Potatoes
Yay! Aim for a serving that’s about ½ the size of your closed fist. If you’re in charge of cooking, swap of the cream for low-fat buttermilk to cut the fat, and go easy on the butter.

Yay or Nay: Christmas Cookies
Yay! Just pick your favorite cookie, and then get out of dodge. When cookies are in front of you, it’s easy to eat mindlessly (just ask Santa!). And remember, homemade cookies are made with love and intention – definitely a sweet treat worth having!

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