Top 5 Worst Holiday Foods You Can Eat

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

The holidays are here with busy schedules, fun times with friends and family, gifts and of course plenty of food and drink to share! You are probably excited to indulge in some winter holiday classics; don’t call me scrooge but here are the 5 worst holiday foods you may want to pass on or simply indulge in small amounts this season.

1.) Fruitcake
Given that rum and butter are two key ingredients it’s no wonder this makes our top five worst holiday foods list with about 400 calories per slice.  While fruit is in the title it’s nothing like a healthy, fresh, natural fruity treat!  Now if you’re dehydrating your own fruits or finding sulfite free choices and making this traditional recipe from scratch, that can help enhance the nutritional profile, but generally, packaged fruitcake is a pass for the health conscience this holiday season.

2.) Egg Nog
It’s a holiday classic! Grocery store shelves are filled with a variety of egg nog choices… everything from traditional nog using heavy cream, bourbon and of course eggs to coconut milk or soy milk dairy-free variations.  While traditional egg nog can run up to 343 calories and 19 grams of fat in just 8 oz/250 mL/1 cup (consumed once daily for a week that’s ½ pound weight gain!), there are ways you can enjoy a creamy drink without loads of sugar and heavy cream. Try heating up our Homemade Cinnamon Hazelnut Milk or even just Homemade Almond Milk with cinnamon and spices for festive flare.

3.) Candy Canes
While candy canes are a holiday staple hanging from Christmas trees or decorating just about every office candy jar, they should be kept for festive decorations, not for eating!  They are also loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients like colors, making them a classic, “empty calorie” treat.  While minty flavors can often signify health properties as mint oil can ease some digestive issues, stay away from these canes and reach for a treat with more nutrition benefits and antioxidants. Try Dark Chocolate Peppermint Patties for a healthy spin on a classic treat with a minty flavor.

4.) Pecan Pie
Growing up in the South, my mom has always loved to make chocolate chip pecan pie; a childhood classic that’s simply delicious but definitely not healthy.  Pecans themselves are a healthy, plant based food boasting iron, magnesium and calcium, but pecan pie is a whole ‘nother story, thanks to the sugar syrups and pie crust.  One slice can be over 400 calories and provide over a third of your percent daily values for fat and 12% for cholesterol.

5.  Candied Yams
Take a healthy food and turn it into a sugary, energy zapping holiday side dish and you have yourself some candied yams.  Typically, these recipes include about 38 grams of sugar per serving; recommendations are to keep added sugars to less than 25 grams per day for women, according to the American Heart Association.  All that sugar adds up to over 400 calories per serving, likely going straight to your waistline! Try some fun variations of healthy dishes like baked sweet potato “fries”, baked yam fries, or Fall Back to Summer Juice.  For more on spuds you can serve at your next holiday dinner, check out this comparison of white vs. sweet potatoes.

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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