With holiday parties, family dinners, decadent treats and festive drinks, it’s hard to resist the “allure of delicious” this time of year. What must of us don’t realize is that just the slightest indulgence can have long-lasting effects on our waistlines deep into the New Year. Many of us can gain up a year’s worth of extra pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day–and spend months of regret trying to work off those extra holiday calories. Today, we address five of hidden holiday food hazards–and some healthy alternatives!
Seasonal “Festive” Drinks
The Pumpkin Pie Latte. The White Chocolate Cosmo. The Gin-gerbread Martini. What do these popular holiday signature drinks have in common? Sugar and loads of empty calories. While delightful to the palette, these beverages (alcoholic or not) are silent body-saboteurs you will soon come to regret. This holiday season, stick to wine and champagne. Try as many different blends as you’d like –within reason–and stick to sipping (not guzzling) one glass per party. An 5 oz. glass has calories and red wines can provide you with some powerful polyphenols** including Resveratrol. Polyphenols act as antioxidants which provide all sorts of good health benefits, good heart health and anti-aging effects.
Starving Yourself Until The Corporate Holiday Party
Planning on skipping breakfast and lunch so you can overdose on holiday fare and libations at the company party? Research (and common sense) shows that arriving to a party with an empty stomach can wreak havoc on your caloric intake when the sun goes down. Instead, plan to eat three square meals that day–and load up on protein at lunch like a piece of organic wild salmon or eggs. Snack on nuts and cheese throughout the day, and even have a mid-day yogurt. Protein will release the right hormones and provide you with longer-lasting satiation–so you won’t approach the buffet with looming hunger.
Canned Cranberry Sauce
A favorite American holiday staple, canned cranberry sauce can also be a serious health culprit. Yes, it is “fruit” but studies have linked the side dish to the seepage of toxic metals and chemicals like bisphenol A (or, BPA). According to the non-for-profit BreastCancerFund.org who recently tested the cans (among other popular canned foods), the presence of BPA that is used to make the epoxy-resin linings of metal food cans (to help prevent bacterial contamination) can actually leach from the resin and make its way into food. BPA has been linked in laboratory studies to a host of adverse health effects such as breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If you must serve the staple, make your own.
Dressings on the Crudite Platter
You may think you are being good to your body by sticking to the pre-cut veggies on the ever-present crudite platter. But, beware! Bottled salad dressings can come with all sorts of calorie-busting side effects from gluten to artificial flavoring, food dyes, sodium and saturated fats. Two teaspoons can result in 16 grams of fat and over 150 calories! Instead, opt for a scoop of fresh hummus (which clocks in at only 27 calories a serving and 1g of fat) or if you must go creamy, choose a few tablespoons of greek yogurt which at least can provide you the benefit of probiotics.
An average serving of egg nog can deliver up to a whopping 350 calories (go for seconds and you’re already up over 700 calories before you even take a single bite of your holiday meal). Consider switching to a lower calorie, organic dark chocolate cocoa which has only 70 calories per serving. Not only will this warm treat satisfy your sweet tooth but also deliver the extra natural health benefits of cocoa: bioactive flavanols rich with fiber, antioxidants, properties and polyphenols that have been linked to helping to: support heart health , maintain blood pressure already within normal range, support healthy circulation, and protect the body from oxidative stress.