Holiday food

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The Eat This, Not That! Guide to Holiday Food
Whether your weakness is mayo-spiked deviled eggs or rum-spiked eggnog, the holiday season is packed with one belly-bloating temptation after another. In fact, studies show the average person consumes an extra 600 calories a day between Thanksgiving and New Year's, which translates to an extra 6 pounds of lard.

While everyone's entitled to a little indulgence, there's a fine line between festive and fattening. Fortunately, making simple food swaps helps keep the pounds down without sacrificing merriment. You don't have to diet. You don't have to deprive yourself.

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Worst cocktail:
Gin and tonic (8 ounces)
240 calories
22 g sugars

Drink this instead:
100 calories
5 g sugars

Before your raise your glass to good health, consider your own. The sad truth is that light-tasting tonic water contains as much sugar as two glazed doughnuts, making it nothing more than a glorified soda. Champagne is just as bubbly but contains only one-fourth of the sugar and half the calories.

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Worst dip:
Spinach and artichoke dip
300 calories
19 g fat

Eat this instead:
Salsa (1/4 cup)
10 calories
0 g fat

The wrong dip can transform healthy veggies and a whole grain pita into vessels for fat and hundreds of extra calories. Avoid creamy, cheesy dips at all costs and stick to the tomato-based salsas and bruschetta, which are low calorie and offer a healthy serving of vegetables to boot.
Baked potato

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Side Dishes
Worst side:
Baked potato with butter and sour cream
400 calories
14 g fat (6 g saturated)

Eat this instead:
Roasted red potatoes (1/2 cup)
100 calories
5 g fat (1 g saturated)

The difference here is in the toppings. Add bacon and cheese to the mix, and add an extra 150 calories. Another smart sides rule: Not all salads are paragons of virtue. Greens with croutons and Italian dressing pack in 140 more calories than a serving of peas with pearl onions.
Hot drink

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Hot Drinks
Worst hot drink:
White chocolate mocha (20 ounces)
660 calories
22 g fat (15 g saturated)
95 g sugars

Drink this instead:
Café au lait with peppermint syrup (20 ounces)
150 calories
5 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
17 g sugars

Sugary coffee concoctions are a holiday shopping staple—but the wrong one could deliver more calories than a Big Mac! Avoid mochas, lattes and cappuccinos and order a café au lait with a spurt of flavored syrup instead.
Chocolate fondue

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Worst dessert:
Pecan pie à la mode
810 calories
65 g fat
55 g sugars

Eat this instead:
Chocolate fondue
340 calories
10 g fat
28 g sugars

In the wide world of holiday pies, nothing is worse than a slice of pecan. Blame the filling, which is a sickly-sweet sludge of corn syrup and sugar. Fondue, in comparison, is a fun and relatively healthy way to splurge after a big meal. Angel food cake makes an ideal dipper: light, low in calories and virtually fat-free. Fruit is even better.
Holiday ornament and measuring tape

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Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Simple Eat This, Not That! food swaps will make holiday weight gain a thing of the past. These holiday party survival rules may even help you lose weight:

  • Watch what you drink. The average American consumes about 450 liquid calories a day. Forgoing the fancy holiday drinks means extra room for other sweets and treats.
  • Snack smart. Protein-based snacks, like jumbo shrimp, cheese or prosciutto, will make you feel full longer than carb-loaded breads will.
  • Master the buffet. Use a small plate—a study from Cornell University found that you'll serve yourself less, but feel like you've eaten more!

David Zinczenko is the editor-in-chief of Men's Health magazine and co-author of the Eat This Not That! series of books.

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