Just because these foods are labeled the unhealthiest on this roundup doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them. Eating these foods at holiday parties and gatherings is actually a really healthy way to spend your holiday season. When else do you get to indulge in these traditional, seasonal favorites?
Enjoying a glass of mulled wine or eating a slice of your aunt’s famous pecan pie is actually more of a healthy choice than depriving yourself of these foods entirely. The fulfillment and nourishment you get from enjoying food with others has all kinds of health benefits. On the other hand, not allowing yourself any of these indulgent foods is going to mess with your relationship with food and set you up for compensatory behavior later. (Think: Eating the entire box of Danish shortbread cookies after the night is over and your guests are gone. )
That doesn’t sound like a happy, healthful holiday. Instead, it sounds like you’d be introducing a lot of self-sabotage and guilt.
We’ve rounded up the foods with the most sugar, fat, and calories to help you remain aware of what these foods are made of — not to deter you from eating them entirely. We promise that a little overeating, some extra saturated fat, and a bit more added sugar than normal won’t kill you. And it probably won’t make you gain weight, either. These are the most indulgent foods at every holiday party.
Now, this is a food a dentist would never touch. These candies are all sugar, and they’re usually pretty large. While you work your way through the entire cane, your teeth and your blood sugar are facing the consequences. These sticks are also usually laced with artificial colors and dyes. Enjoying one probably won’t do much damage, but turning it into a habit is another story.
Crab on its own is a lean, protein-packed form of seafood. But crab cakes are typically made with added mayo and then deep fried. Any of the nutritional value is soaked underneath added fats and oils. While those ingredients are important to incorporate into your meal, if you’re eating these as an appetizer, you could easily end up overdoing it.
If you’re particularly fond of fondue, we recommend you fon-don’t overdo it. Not only is the cheese itself usually loaded with fat and calories, the accompanying foods for dipping usually aren’t much better. White bread, pieces of meat, and potatoes are commonly served with the melted pot of cheese. If this is all you’re eating, you’re loading up on carbs and fat without getting very many vegetables or other nutrients. Plus, if you’re dipping and dipping and dipping as the party drones on, all that cheese is going to add up quickly.
Just one bite of these popular and, admittedly, delicious finger foods has enough calories to account for a good portion of your meal. Deep frying anything is going to add all kinds of caloric consequences — but that’s especially true when the thing you’re deep frying is cheese or meat.
Don’t let the name of this dessert fool you. Chowing down on a slice of fruitcake is nothing like eating actual fruit. Many fruitcake recipes use dried fruit instead of fresh — dried fruits are often made with added sugars and juices already. Then, the recipe has you add even more sugar with a side of butter, flour, molasses, and more. Honestly, if you’re eating all that sugar and butter anyway, why go for the fruitcake? Here’s why it’s become such a classic holiday dessert, but we’d rather be eating a delicious slice of pie.
While a normal glass of wine can be really great for you, mulled wine is a different story. This drink is made using added sugars and cider, loading on calories and sugar to an otherwise healthful beverage.
Though peanuts are really good for you, that’s pretty much the only salvageable benefit of this classic holiday food. It’s sticky and packed with refined sugar. Made of sugar, butter, and hardened corn syrup, a piece contains 15 grams of sugar — that’s over half your recommended daily limit.
A single slice of a typical pecan pie adds up to more calories than your average dinner. Pecans are a high-calorie nut (though still one of the best for your health), and a slice of pecan pie has far more of them than your typical handful serving. Add all the sugar, butter, and flour used to make this treat and you’ve got a dessert with way more sugar and fat than any fruit pie.
Just because it has “plum” in the title doesn’t make it healthy. This traditional holiday dessert, sometimes referred to as Christmas pudding, has more sugar per serving than most doctors recommend you eat in a day.
Most popcorn — unless it’s from the movie theater — is a healthy, whole grain snack. However, once you coat it in butter, caramel, and cheese, it’s no longer so diet-friendly. These huge tins make their way into almost everyone’s home during the holiday season. Since they’re often left open for mindless munching, it can be easy to eat more of the popcorn than you intended.
Spinach and artichokes are both vegetables, but that’s about the only thing that’s healthy about this dish. There are lightened-up versions available, but usually the vegetables are pretty much drowned in cream cheese, butter, and mayonnaise, making them far less healthy than most of the other dip options for chips. Even guacamole is a healthier choice than this misleading appetizer.
These rolled cakes are a traditional treat on many tables, but they’re dense. Unlike some other fluffy Christmas cakes, these are heavy with cream, chocolate, and a fudgy interior that packs on an alarming number of calories per small slice. These cakes are also quite difficult to make — here are a few delicious holiday desserts easy enough for beginner bakers.