So here we are: It’s officially holiday treat season, a sugar-infused multiweek celebration of creamy, nutmeg-infused eggnog, melt-in-your-mouth truffles, and baked goods you’ve been thinking about since July. It’s hard to know where to start — let alone where to stop.
The good news: Stopping isn’t necessary, according to Jennifer Anderson, registered dietitian at Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute in Charlotte. A firm proponent of moderation, Anderson believes no food is inherently “good” or “bad,” though some are certainly healthier than others. The key is paying attention to portion size and choosing your treats wisely.
“Treats and tempting foods surround us during the holidays, and it’s hard to say ‘no’ when they’re offered,” Anderson said. “Instead of wasting calories on a cookie or candy that you don’t love, save them for your favorite treat – one that you absolutely love, is satisfying, and you look forward to each year.”
To provide a little guidance, Anderson offered the following list, which shows the nutrition values of many of our favorite holiday treats, and how much exercise a 180-pound person would need to do to burn off the extra calories. And keep reading for a few of her favorite tips for staying healthy in the face of temptation.
Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha
- Nutrition: 420 calories in a 16-ounce grande; 15 grams fat (9 grams saturated); 56 grams sugar.
- Exercise: A 180-pound adult would need to walk at 2 mph for two hours and 35 minutes to burn 420 calories.
- Nutrition: 180 calories per 1/2 cup; 8 grams fat (5 grams saturated); 20 grams sugar.
- Exercise: A 180-pound person would need to do 45 minutes of housework to burn 180 calories.
- Nutrition: 507 calories per drink (made with 2 ounces vodka, 2 ounces coffee liqueur; 2 ounces heavy cream, ice cubes); 24 grams fat (14 grams saturated); 29 grams sugar.
- Exercise: To burn 507 calories, a 180-pound person would need to do two hours and five minutes of weight training.
International Delight Buddy the Elf Caramel Waffle Cookie Coffee Creamer
- Nutrition: 35 calories per tablespoon; 1.5 grams fat (0.5 gram saturated); 5 grams sugar.
- A 180-pound person would need to do 10 minutes of gentle yoga/stretching to burn 35 calories.
Kaukauna Sharp Cheddar Cheese Ball with Kellogg’s Club Crackers
- Nutrition (cheese): 100 calories for two tablespoons cheese; 6 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated); 4 grams sugar. Nutrition (crackers): 70 calories for 4 club crackers; 3 grams fat (0 g saturated); 1 grams sugar.
- Exercise: A 180-pound person would need to play golf (walking; carrying clubs) for 30 minutes to burn 170 calories.
Royal Dansk Danish Butter Cookies
- Nutrition: 180 calories for four cookies; 9 grams fat (6 grams saturated); 10 grams sugar.
- Exercise: A 180-pound person would need to play Ping-Pong for 35 minutes to burn 180 calories.
Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe-Joes Sandwich Cookies
- Nutrition: 140 calories for two cookies; 6 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated); 13 grams sugar.
- Exercise: It would take 25 minutes of tai chi for a 180-pound person to burn 140 calories.
Dairy Queen Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough Blizzard
- Nutrition: 970 calories for a medium Blizzard; 41 grams fat (18 grams saturated); 99 grams sugar.
- Exercise: It would take an hour and 45 minutes of jogging for a 180-pound person to burn 970 calories.
Archer Farms 12-inch Pumpkin Pie
- Nutrition: 280 calories per serving (1/12 of the pie); 10 grams fat (5 grams saturated); 18 grams sugar.
- Exercise: A 180-pound person would need to do 50 minutes of yardwork (raking leaves, mowing grass, etc.) to burn 280 calories.
Marie Callender’s Southern Pecan Pie
- Nutrition: 510 calories per serving (1/8 of pie); 25 grams fat (6 grams saturated); 29 grams sugar.
- Exercise: To burn 510 calories, a 180-pound person would need to work out on a rowing machine (at moderate intensity) for 55 minutes.
World Market Peppermint Bark
- Nutrition: 150 calories for 1 ounce; 9 grams fat (6 grams saturated); 14 grams sugar.
- Exercise: It would take 30 minutes of cycling (at 5.5 miles per hour) for a 180-pound person to burn 150 calories.
Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles
- Nutrition: 220 calories for three pieces; 17 grams fat (12 grams saturated); 14 grams sugar.
- Exercise: A 180-pound person would require 35 minutes of kayaking to burn 220 calories.
3 strategies for a healthier holiday season
Focus on nutritious foods: Fill up on the healthy foods throughout the entire year. “When we’re eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods most often, it is reflected in our health and our waistlines,” Anderson said. “If you want to indulge in less-healthy foods or drinks, reduce the portion size and frequency.”
Pay attention to your habits: Try to be aware of your good habits (drinking water) and not-so-good habits (reaching for a soda). Pay attention to what foods you reach for and when. How do they affect your mood? Your energy? Your overall health? “To build better habits, set small, realistic, achievable goals,” Anderson said. “You will be amazed how these small changes add up to big results in time.”
Make time for movement: “We tend to get very busy during the holiday season, and all of our ‘to-do’s’ make it challenging to get as much physical activity as we usually do,” Anderson said. She advises clients to stay consistent and prioritize exercise, scheduling it like a doctor’s visit or any other appointment. Also, don’t forget to keep those sweats and sneakers handy!