Which Holiday Foods are Healthier?

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Healthy eating is all about making wise choices. Holiday eating is no exception. By simply weighing your options when it comes to holiday foods, you may be able to keep your waistlines after weeks of festivity.

Holiday Food Comparison

  • Ham vs. Turkey?

    Choose Turkey. Both of these holiday foods are great sources of protein, but turkey provides significant less fat if you skip the skin. In addition, ham has 15 times more sodium than turkey and may contain nitrates. A controversial ingredient commonly found in processed meat, sodium nitrite has been linked to cancer.

  • Soft cheese vs. Hard cheese?

    It depends. If you are primarily concerned about fat and calories, choose soft cheese because they generally provide fewer calories and lower fat. However, if you are concerned about calcium, choose hard cheese as they usually pack a lot of more calcium per serving. Ricotta cheese, for instance, has only 39 calories and 77 mg of calcium per ounce. Romano, on the contrary, has 110 calories and over 300 mg of calcium per ounce! For nutritional information of more cheese, check out our cheese comparison.

  • Gingerbread cookies vs. Chocolate dip shortbread?

    Choose Gingerbread cookies. Gingerbread cookies contain only half the amount of calories, sugar and fat than chocolate dip shortbread.

  • Starbucks: Gingerbread Latte vs. Peppermint Mocha

    Choose Gingerbread latte at Starbucks. The main difference is really the amount of sugar used. With most of the ingredients beingsimilar, peppermint mocha has 4 more teaspoons of sugar in its ingredients, making it containing an extra 90 calories than a grande gingerbread latte.

  • Candy cane vs. Truffle ball?

    It depends. If you can restrain yourself from eating more than one piece, either one is fine. One truffle ball provides 85 calories while a candy cane contains about 55 calories. The good thing about candy cane is that it can last a long time, and most people don’t eat more than one piece!

    Consider: Although a candy cane has fewer calories and no fat, this holiday food is still loaded with refined sugar and is another example of empty calories food. If dark chocolate is available, it may be a good option. Dark chocolate contains more flavonoids, a type of polyphenol antioxidant, and has been shown to reduce the bad LDL cholesterol in preliminary studies.Red wine vs. White wine

  • Red wine vs. White wine?

    Choose Red Wine. Red wine contains resveratrol, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. In addition, red wine contains flavonoids, another antioxidant that helps prevent blood clots and plaque formation in arteries

Holiday Diet Strategies for People with Heartburn

Also, sixty million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. But heartburn doesn’t have to join turkey and dressing on the holiday menu this season.

Fatty foods are usually the biggest culprits for causing heartburn, and since most holiday foods are high in fat, you may want to look for other ways to deal with heartburn during the holidays. Dr Ergun, a gastroenterologist with the Methodist Hospital in Houston, advises heartburn sufferers not to lie down right after eating and not to eat within two to three hours of bedtime.

  • Take an antacid before your meal.
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and mint products like peppermint or spearmint prior to your meal. The worst culprit is beer – it can double your stomach acid within an hour.
  • High-fat foods remain in your stomach longer, causing the need for more stomach acid to digest them. So eat a smaller portion (or avoid) high-fat items like fried foods, cream-based soup, cheese-filled casseroles, processed meats like salami and sausages, and pastries like pecan pie.
  • Different foods trigger heartburn in different individuals. According to Dr. Ergun, the following condiments are the most common culprits: chocolate, cranberry sauce, relish, tomato sauce, ketchup, pepper, mustard, and vinegar.
  • Avoid carbonated soda. Water is your best bet.
  • Remember: don’t overeat! Eating too much of any food will stimulate the stomach to secrete more acids for digestion.


christmas, heartburn, seasonal celebrations, Thanksgiving


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