9 Frighteningly Fattening Fall Foods
Avoiding these rich fall favorites can help you make it to Thanksgiving without gaining a pound.
The Most Fattening Foods of Fall
So what exactly are the diet-spoilers to watch out for this season? Here are
nine fall foods that can really pack a caloric punch:
- Halloween candy. Long before Halloween arrives, bowls of fun-size
candy bars are all over the office. And then there are those tempting bags
stashed in the back of the pantry. "When 3 p.m. rolls around, it is
easy to get enticed by those bite-size candies. But one usually turns into
more, and before you know it, you have eaten the equivalent of a full-size
candy bar," says Gidus. Her advice: Stash sweets out of sight, and be
prepared to satisfy your midday hunger pangs with something more nutritious. If
you must have something sweet, chew a piece of sugarless gum.
- Cream soups and hearty stews. Cream of baked potato and broccoli
cheese soups and beef stroganoff may seem like perfect fall foods, but beware.
"Warm soups and stews feel so nutritious, but if they are loaded with
cream, cheese, or meat, they are also loaded with calories," says Farrell.
Serving them in a bread bowl, atop rice, or noodles, or dunking big portions of
bread into them can put even healthy soups or stews over the top, in terms of
calories, she says. So avoid these options, and be sure to choose broth and
vegetable based soups and stews to fill you up for fewer calories.
- Root vegetables. While many are super-nutritious, root vegetables
can quadruple in calories when you cream them, fry them, or mix them with
cheese, cream, butter, canned soups, or crispy bacon. A sweet potato casserole
can easily have 500 calories per serving -- 400 more than a simple roasted
sweet potato. Shave calories by eating root veggies oven-roasted or
grilled. If you just can’t pass on the mashed potatoes, skip the gravy and keep
the portion to 1/2 cup.
- Seasonal beverages. Hot toddies may keep you warm at night,
but these hot drinks, along with hot chocolate, pumpkin-spice lattes, eggnog,
and apple cider are a quick and easy way to take in lots of extra calories. A
16-oz. Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk and whipped cream packs 380
calories, while the same size caramel apple cider has 410 calories. "Be
careful with hot, cold, or alcoholic beverages because they are additional
calories and don’t affect how much you eat," says Farrell. One regular
12-ounce beer has 150 calories, and you can multiply that by however many you
drink. So try a hot cup of green or flavored tea, rich with antioxidants and
calorie-free. When you choose to drink alcohol, opt for light beer or wine
spritzers, and limit yourself to one or two.
- Apples dipped in caramel. An afternoon snack of apples with a thick
layer of caramel and coated with nuts can total more than 500 calories, says
Gidus. Enjoy crisp apple slices with a small container of low-fat caramel dip
(McDonald’s version has 70 calories) for the same great taste with a fraction
of the fat and calories.
- Apple, pecan, and sweet potato pies. These fall favorites start with
healthy ingredients such as heart-healthy nuts or antioxidant-rich fruits and
vegetables -- but they also include high-calorie ingredients. "Rich,
buttery pie crusts, sweet fillings, and the customary whipped cream or ice
cream topping make these pies decadent and full of calories," says Farrell.
Skip the crust, add a dollop of light whipped topping, and serve yourself only
a sliver to enjoy these yummy desserts without lots of extra calories.
- Stuffing. There are so many versions of stuffing, most containing
high-fat ingredients such as sausage and butter. And the calories keep coming
when the stuffing is served with a ladle or two of gravy. "You can make a
low-fat stuffing using fruits, vegetables, and stock, but you still need to
keep the portion small and try to avoid smothering it in gravy," says
- Macaroni and cheese. It's an all-time favorite comfort food for both
kids and adults, but it can wreak havoc with your diet. At Boston Market, a 7.8
ounce serving of mac and cheese has 320 calories. To make it worse, many
recipes call for extra ingredients such as high-fat meats or sausage.
"Modify the recipe by using a low-fat cheese, low-fat milk and add in some
veggies instead of meat to improve the nutritional profile and still taste
great," says Liz Weiss, author of The Mom’s Guide to Meal
- Pumpkin desserts. Pumpkin layer cake, cheesecake, bread pudding --
there are so many ways to take the vitamin A-rich pumpkin and turn it into a
decadently rich dessert. "Be careful, because if you add tons of cream and
sugar, you negate the health benefits of pumpkin," says Gidus. Instead, she
says, "lighten the other ingredients, try a crustless, low-fat pumpkin
custard or low-fat pumpkin muffins, so you can enjoy the pumpkin without
sabotaging your waistline."