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A typical holiday meal can mean a disaster for your diet, with an average calorie count of more than 2,500 for every festive spread you indulge in. Given that 3,500 calories equals one extra pound of weight, a few over-the-top meals, in theory, could turn into a few extra lines on the scale. Is all the merrymaking really worth a serious case of snug-fitting clothes and the winter-weight blues?

This year, a holiday meal makeover is definitely in order, meaning it’s time to deck the kitchen with healthier ingredients and lower-cal treats. With visions of skim milk, egg substitutes, pomegranate seeds, and a sprinkle of cinnamon dancing in your head, the trick is to pack in the flavor and pull out the fat -- so you can enjoy all of the tasty treats the season has to offer, without the guilt and gratuitous calories.

WebMD offers these yuletide alternatives to some traditional appetizers, drinks, and dessert. (We’ll leave the main dish to you -- since you already know to eat just the white meat on the bird and go easy on the stuffing and gravy, right?) So, this holiday, focus more on giving thanks and wrapping presents and less on the needle on the scale.

Low-Calorie Holiday Drinks


Eggnog is a minefield of calories -- from the heavy cream to the sugar to its main ingredient, eggs. Weighing in at around 340 calories per cup, with 19 grams of fat, this is one holiday drink that’s better left at the bar -- unless you make some serious changes. First, skip the heavy cream and use skim milk and fat-free half-and-half instead. Egg substitutes are just as good as the real deal, and a single packet of artificial sweetener can add all the flavor of a teaspoon of calorie-heavy sugar. And, since you’ve carved off the calories in all the right places -- down to about 60 calories per serving -- feel free to add 1/4 cup of brandy or rum for a little kick, or spice it up naturally with a shaving of fresh nutmeg.

Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 cups skim milk

1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half

1/2 cup pasteurized egg substitute

1 tsp vanilla

1 packet artificial sweetener

1/4 cup brandy or rum (optional)

Nutmeg (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker or blender, or whisk to blend. Serve cold or over ice and garnish with nutmeg.

Per serving (without brandy): 64 calories, 7 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 144 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 7%.


Wine Spritzer

This colorful holiday cocktail is the perfect way to make merry without packing on the pounds. Start with just a splash of wine in lieu of a whole glass and add a dash of healthy pomegranate or cranberry juice, both of which are nutrient-heavy and calorie-light. Finally, throw in a touch of soda or sparkling water for a little pop.

Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup pomegranate or

cranberry juice

1/4 cup club soda or

sparkling water

Garnish with lime wedge

Per serving: 50 calories, 0.3 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 13 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 0%.


Eating Healthy in Restaurants:

Follow these ordering tips to ensure you eat healthfully when you dine out.
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