It's pretty hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the chaos of the holiday season. Most Americans gain a pound and a half between October and November. Many people can easily lose it afterwards, but for others, it can take up to five months, while still others never lose it at all!

Even if you maintain your weight during the rest of the year, if you put on weight every December and fail to get it back off before the next holiday season, in ten years, you could be fifteen pounds heavier!

While we know you probably won't be eating perfectly this Christmastime, it is pretty important to minimize the damage to avoid setting off a metabolic cascade that could tip your scales in the wrong direction long term.

So take a look at this list of some of the season's worst food offenders, and learn about some healthy substitutes you can try instead!

1. Eggnog

eggnog

This mixture of milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites, egg yolks, and nutmeg is more of a liquid dessert than a drink. There's over 200 calories in a one cup (eight ounce) serving of this holiday classic, and that's before you even add in a hundred-calorie shot! Once you start in with the holiday garnishes like whipped cream or candy canes, you'll really be toast! Unfortunately, some other popular christmassy cocktails, like mulled wine and hot buttered rum, have a similarly high calorie and sugar content. If you've got to have a drink this holiday season, stick to plain red wine or champagne, light beer, or one of our festive low-calorie cocktails!

2. Holiday Coffee Drinks

frappucino

So, you've decided to stay away from the alcohol this holiday season... unfortunately, some of your coffee options are just as disastrous! A medium or "grande" seasonal Starbucks latte or Frappucino could easily cost you four hundred calories, with large or "venti" varieties sometimes coming in at over six hundred!

These drinks are also incredibly high in sugar, with a Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino containing a whopping 95 grams.

Their chief competitor Dunkin Donuts is similarly egregious, if not worse! Some of their large frozen coffees come in at over a thousand calories, and even a simple latte could put you over five hundred calories if you don't order wisely.  

There are ways you can enjoy a fancier drink at Starbucks without totally blowing your diet though. A tall Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte has only a hundred calories, and a tall Skinny Mocha has only about 130, as does a tall Skinny Mocha Frappucino. To reduce the damage at Dunkin, stick to small size, a hot or iced rather than frozen coffee, and skim milk.

Or, you could stay home, save your pennies for the gifts, and enjoy an even healthier mint chocolate coffee shake or a sparkling chocolate mint coffee soda instead!

3. Cranberry Sauce

cranberrysauce

A serving of this seemingly innocuous sauce could easily cost you as much as four hundred calories, and blow your recommended sugar intake for the entire day before you even get to dessert!

However, cranberries themselves are actually one of the healthiest foods around, so there's no reason not to invite them to your holiday get-together. Just whip up our stevia-infused version of cranberry sauce instead, and take note of our healthy gravy and stuffing recipes while you're at it!

4. Rolls With Butter

roles

What bugs me about rolls with butter is how utterly unnecessary they are; the last thing anyone needs as an accompaniment to a rich holiday meal is a serving of inflammatory empty calories slathered in additives and fat!

If you've gotta have butter this Christmas, best make your own, and try spreading it onto a more nutritious "bread" made using chickpea or lentil flour. Better yet, leave the rolls be and take an extra serving or two of veggies instead.

5. Fruitcake

fruitcake

Though it may not be as bad as more decadent options like the cheesecake or yule log, just because this holiday staple is made with fruit doesn't mean that it's actually any good for you. Any health benefits said fruit may have once had will be cancelled out by copious amounts of added sugar, butter, flour, and, if that weren't enough, molasses.

Likewise, pannetone, a traditional Italian Christmas bread made with raisins and candied fruit, is similarly nutritionally vacant. Try using some fresh fruit as a topper for one of these three low calorie cakes instead!

6. Creamy Spinach Dishes

dip

If it's got spinach in it, it's gotta be good for you, right? Actually, very very WRONG. A spinach dip that includes cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise could easily cost you over 100 calories for a minuscule two tablespoon serving. Creamed spinach, which combines spinach with high-fat ingredients like heavy cream, butter, and olive oil, will also likely cost you at least 200 calories per serving.

Best make like Popeye and eat your spinach plain this year! Meanwhile, for a healthier dip option, try our spin on the traditional Middle Eastern yogurt dip Tzatziki, or whip up some homemade hummus or guacamole with a side of raw veggies!

7. Latkes

bacon

Nope, those celebrating Hannukah rather than Christmas this year aren't necessarily going to have a healthier holiday. One medium fried potato pancake will cost you around 100 calories, and let's face it—you're probably gonna have three. Depending on the kind of oil a latke is cooked in, it might be harboring a dangerous dose of saturated and trans fats as well.

Instead of potatoes, try frying up a more nutritious vegetable, like zucchini or cauliflower if you've got to fry something up. Or, for a similar crunchy treat that actually has some protein to boot, why not try a 123Diet Crab Cake? At least top your latkes with our homemade applesauce rather than a corn-syrupy store-bought variety!

8. Christmas Cookies

gingy

We aren't trying to be the Grinch with this one, but going too hard on the Christmas cookies could make reaching your New Years goals a whole lot harder! Filled with indulgent ingredients like buttermilk, flour, sugar, chocolate, candy pieces, and peanut butter, hard not to see why they're on our "naughty" list.

Though one or two cookies wouldn't be so bad of a choice, sugar's addictive properties means it's pretty hard to stop there. While a slice of pie or cake requires, at least, a plate and utensils, the easy-to-grab nature of cookies makes them deceptively easy to snack on mindlessly all evening long!

If you can't keep your hands out of the cookie jar, try and stick to the plainer cookie options. A small sugar cookie might only be 60 calories, while a more elaborate snickerdoodle could be almost 200, with chocolate truffle-like confections probably falling somewhere in the middle at around a hundred each. For a more wholesome Christmas indulgence, you can try one of our apple cookies or one of our other delectable desserts!

9. Pecan Pie

pecanpie

What can make nuts even worse for you? Easy: baking them into a dessert! A one ounce serving of pecans has 20 grams of fat and nearly 200 calories before you even start adding in the extras, which usually include eggs, butter, flour, sugar, and yet more sugar in the form of molasses.

Though they aren't likely to be health foods, going for the apple or pumpkin pie would probably be a better choice than reaching for this disaster; you'll get away with a bit less fat, and at least some of the sugar you consume will be natural.

So if you're planning a holiday indulgence this year, stick to pecans or pie rather than both. Better yet, have neither, and try our healthy stevia-sweetened caramel apple pie instead.

10. Processed Meats

bacon

Cured meats may show up this Christmas time on your cheese board, in the center of a flaky pig-in-a-blanket, or as the star ingredient of one of the many bacon-wrapped appetizers that are basically a dieter's worst nightmare.

Though something like a sausage may at first not sound that bad, at least compared to some of the other abominations on the menu, it's still like to be high in fat, sodium, and potentially nitrates. Instead, take a bite or two of a high protein appetizer that won't tank your whole evening, like our 123-friendly variations of a shrimp cocktail or these light version of meatballs and marinara sauce.

Want to get in shape for 2020? Join our Facebook support group and learn about 123 Diet from other community members!

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