When fall arrives, many of us turn to hearty foods, perfect for warming up, and, if we're not careful, gaining weight. Browse our gallery of fall's most fattening foods, starting with creamy chicken pot pie. One pie from the grocery freezer case can have more than 1,000 calories. For a fraction of the calories, try a flavorful roast chicken breast and a warm, whole-wheat roll.
Game-day favorites -- chips, nachos, pizza, wings, and ribs -- spoil many diets. If you're a sports fan, you may also be glued to the couch for hours every week, so you're not burning off the extra calories from game-day foods. Try these tips:
Serve veggies and low-fat dip as part of your spread.
Eat from a plate instead of grazing at the buffet. This helps you keep track of how much you're eating.
Oktoberfest brings calorie-laden beer, potato salads, and sausages. Bratwurst, one typical sausage, has about 95 calories per ounce, most from unhealthy animal fat. Three tips may help with fattening festival fare:
Eat smaller portions.
Set a drink limit for yourself, and alternate with lower-calorie, non-alcoholic drinks.
Choose light beer over regular (110 calories vs. 150 calories in 12 ounces).
The damage from a bowl of chili can easily hit 500 calories with the wrong recipe. The same goes for other meaty stews, which are often loaded with fatty beef or sausage and topped with gobs of cheese. Yet, chili and stew can be nutritional superstars when made right. Use small portions of lean meat, plenty of beans, vegetables, and spices, and just a sprinkle of low-fat cheese. In restaurants, check the calorie count before ordering.
Cream Soups and Hearty Stews
Cream of potato soup, broccoli cheese soup, and beef stroganoff may seem like perfect fall foods, but beware. Warm soups and stews that are loaded with cream, cheese, or meat are also loaded with calories. If you serve them in a bread bowl or atop rice or noodles, you add even more calories. Tip:
Choose broth-based and vegetable-based soups and stews to fill you up for fewer calories.
Fall drinks -- hot chocolate, pumpkin-spice lattes, eggnog, apple cider, and hot toddies -- are a quick and easy way to take in lots of extra calories. A cup of homemade hot cocoa (without whipped cream) has 190 calories. One 8-oz cup of eggnog packs 340 calories. Tips:
Try a hot cup of green or flavored tea, rich with antioxidants and calorie-free.
Opt for light beer or wine spritzers, and limit yourself to one or two.
An afternoon snack of apples with a thick layer of caramel and nuts can total more than 500 calories. Tip:
Enjoy crisp apple slices with a small container of low-fat caramel dip for the same great taste -- with a fraction of the fat and calories.
Halloween Candy – Frightening!
October brings bowls of candy bars at the office -- and tempting bags of candy at home awaiting trick-or-treaters. It's easy to get enticed by those bite-size candies. But few of us can have just one. Tips:
Stash sweets out of sight.
Satisfy your midday hunger pangs with something nutritious, like fruit.
If you crave something sweet, chew a piece of sugarless gum.
Macaroni and Cheese
Mac and cheese is a favorite comfort food for both kids and adults. But it can wreak havoc with your diet. One cup can pack 300 to 400 calories, depending on the brand. Add sausage or ham and it's even more fattening. Tips:
Modify the recipe by using a low-fat cheese and milk.
Substitute veggies for meat to get more nutrition. It'll still taste great!
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Still using your mother's recipe for mashed potatoes? All that butter, heavy cream, and whole milk help cram about 240 calories into one cup. Ladle on 1/4 cup of fatty gravy and you're close to 300 calories in a side dish. To eat fewer calories, savor 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes, without gravy. Or experiment with newer, calorie-conscious recipes for better mashed potatoes.
Root Vegetables with Added Fat
Roots like yams and sweet potatoes are super-nutritious, but you quadruple the calories when you mix them with cheese, cream, butter, canned soups, or bacon. A sweet potato casserole can easily have 500 calories per serving -- 400 more than a simple roasted sweet potato. Slash the calorie count by eating root veggies oven-roasted or grilled.
Most stuffing contains high-fat ingredients such as sausage and butter. With gravy, stuffing is diet nightmare. Tips:
Make a low-fat stuffing using fruits, vegetables, and stock.
Keep the portion small, and try to resist smothering it in gravy.
Chew slowly to enjoy each mouthful and allow your brain time to get the signal that you are full.
Apple, Pecan, Sweet Potato Pies
These fall favorites start with healthy ingredients such as nuts or fruits and vegetables. But once you add buttery pie crusts, sweet fillings, and whipped cream or ice cream topping, you have decadent pies full of calories. Tips:
Skip the crust.
Add a dollop of light whipped topping.
Serve yourself only a sliver to enjoy these desserts without lots of extra calories.
Pumpkin layer cake, cheesecake, bread pudding. There are many ways to turn vitamin A-rich pumpkin into a rich dessert. Be careful: If you add tons of cream and sugar, you negate the health benefits of pumpkin. Tip:
Try crustless, low-fat pumpkin custard, or low-fat pumpkin muffins.
Enjoy the pumpkin without sabotaging your waistline.
All Things in Moderation
All it takes is an extra 100 calories per day to pack on 10 pounds a year. The best strategy for your health is to avoid weight creep altogether. You can do so by enjoying fall comfort foods in moderation.
Check your portion sizes.
Eat plenty of veggies prepared without added fat and sugar.
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