Tis the season… for lighter festive foods


“Tis the season to be jolly – and that makes it easy to binge on delicious holiday treats. Of course, holiday fare is famously loaded with sugar and fat. But not always. Some foods are easily swapped for lighter options that keep the joy of holiday eating without the stuff that can cause weight gain.

Crab Cakes

Blended with mayonnaise, coated in oil and breadcrumbs, and finally cooked in a pan of fat, crab cakes are a dieter’s worst nightmare.  One cake can set you back 400 calories and 19g of fat! If you’re a seafood fan, opt for the shrimp cocktail instead. Shrimp is a great source of lean protein with virtually no fat! Swapping one large crab cake for a serving of six large shrimp and 2 tablespoons of cocktail sauce saves you 300 calories!

Honey-Glazed Ham

Who can resist the sweet and savory combination of honey-glazed ham? You might think twice before indulging in this holiday classic if you knew the damage it could do to your waistline. Ham is higher in fat than other meats and the sweet glaze adds a big helping of sugar. A small 4-ounce serving of glazed ham has 220 calories, 8g fat, and as much sugar as an 8-ounce can of coke!  Swap beef tenderloin for the honey ham and save almost 100 calories, 4g of fat, and skim away almost all of the sugar.


Nothing says holiday calorie bomb more than a traditional glass of eggnog.  Ingredients such as whipped eggs, sugar, cream, and a combination of sweet liquors makes this cocktail extremely caloric. A meager one-cup serving of traditional eggnog has 340 calories and 19g fat. Opt for lighter options like a spiked apple cider to get you into the holiday spirit.


Just because it has fruit in it does not mean it is healthy! The name of this holiday staple can certainly be deceiving. Fruit may be the marquis ingredient, however fruitcake also contains plenty of sugar, butter, and corn syrup. One slice of fruitcake has 400 calories and a whopping 13g of fat. Lighten up this season by creating your own healthier version of this holiday favorite. Just top angel food cake with fresh fruit slices for a low calorie fat free alternative.

Cheese and Crackers

We know full-fat cheese like Brie, cheddar, and feta are full of calories and fat. During the holidays we see our favorite cheeses in tiny cubes artfully piled next to other seasonal favorites. Five one-inch cubes can set you back 345 calories and over 15g fat! Combined with a few crackers and you are looking at over 500 calories before the main course is served. Instead, get the savory crunch you want by opting for a small smear of cheese spread or hummus.


Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and author of the Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber! as well as the bestselling F-Factor Diet. In partnership with the Hain Celestial Group, Tanya has a national line of high-fiber foods marketed under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.