By Maris Callahan - DietsInReview.com
The holiday season can be a time full of friends, family and laughter. While a lot of social events revolve around food during the holidays, what's good for your soul might wreak havoc on your diet.
This year, don't wait until January 1 to start eating healthier and trying to slim down. Instead, be aware of what you're putting in your body throughout the holiday season.
According to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Center, it's better to eat slowly and savor small portions of your favorite foods rather than throw caution to the wind simply because it's a special occasion.
"When people feel guilty about eating dessert they inhale it quickly without even tasting. Not having tasted it, they aren't satisfied and they go back for more," said Teitelbaum. "Instead, realize that your sweet tooth taste buds are saturated after one or two bites, and the one or two bites are not what pack on the pounds, so enjoy and savor them-guilt free."
If you haven't mastered the willpower of stopping after only a few bites, you can lighten up some of your favorite calorie offenders to make them easier on your waistline - and save yourself countless hours on the treadmill after ringing in the New Year.
Diet Offender: Pecan Pie, at up to 800 calories per slice, 65 grams of fat and 50 grams of sugar, this is more than half of the daily calorie recommendation for a 150-pound woman trying to maintain her weight. And that's before you count the ice cream or whipped cream that you pile on top.
Instead: Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans are easy to make and won't set you back quite as far on the calorie spectrum. Toss 4 cups of pecans with one egg white, 2 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon and ½ cup white sugar on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you enjoy a quarter-cup of nuts, you'll save more than 600 calories and your sweet tooth will still feel satisfied.
Healthy Recipe Alternative: Harvest Time Praline Apple and Cranberry Pie
Diet Offender: Eggnog might be festive but it also runs up to 400 calories per cup. Eggnog also typically contains alcohol, which can lead to mindless munching and even more calorie damage by the end of the evening.
Instead: A 5-ounce glass of sparkling dessert wine. You'll save 200 calories and about 20 grams of fat, most of which is saturated. In between beverages, you can sip on water to cut calories and avoid dehydration. As an added bonus, you'll skip the next-day hangover, too.
Healthy Recipe Alternative: Banana Nog
Diet Offender: Cheesecake might be rich and indulgent, but it's also going to cost you. One slice of plain Cheesecake Factory cheesecake has more than 700 calories, which is more than you need to eat, even in one meal. If you're craving something sweet, instead of digging in to your favorite cake, opt for something portion controlled.
Instead: A small sliver of pumpkin pie is your best choice when it comes to the pies and cakes at your holiday buffet. The average slice of pumpkin pie has about 300 calories and 14 grams of fat, with 5 of those grams saturated. "Of all the low calorie desserts, pumpkin pie is generally one of the best picks," nutritionist Keri Gans, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, told Women's Health. "Because it's an open-face pie, it has fewer calories per slice than many others. Leave a little crust behind and you'll skinny it up even more."
Healthy Recipe Alternative: Pumpkin Walnut Snack Muffins
Diet Offender: Frosted sugar cookies might look sweet and innocent, but a large homemade sugar cookie was most likely made with heavy amounts of butter. The average cookie has about 400 calories - and that isn't even counting the milk you're dunking it in.
Instead: For a quick sweet fix, opt for a peppermint candy cane. At about 100 calories each, candy canes also take longer to eat, leaving your hands and mouth too preoccupied for any additional mindless snacking.
Healthy Recipe Alternative: Classic Sugar Cookies
Diet Offender: Chocolate cake can be the perfect way to end a holiday dinner, but not when one slice racks up more than 600 calories. Many special occasion cakes are rich with thick frostings that are made almost entirely of butter, which will not only wreck your waistline, but may pose cardiovascular health risks.
Instead: Three dark chocolate Hershey's kisses has plenty of antioxidants and moderate calories so you can indulge your inner chocoholic without paying homage to the treadmill the next day.
Healthy Recipe Alternative: Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Learn more about indulging moderately throughout the holiday season:
Thanksgiving Healthy Recipe Guide
Chef Rocco's Serving Healthier Thanksgiving Recipes in Now Eat This
Moderation, Not Avoidance, Key for Holiday Celebrations
By Maris Callahan - DietsInReview.com