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Healthier Holiday Food Swaps

Eat, drink and don't waste a single second worrying about holiday pounds. We'll share the secrets to having your cake (and cheese and wine) and enjoying it too!

By Michele Bender

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roasted nuts vs roasted chestnuts
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Swearing off celebrations and not baking a single cookie this season translates to a big "Bah, humbug!" But the other extreme can also get you in trouble. "People tend to go overboard in terms of calories at year-end parties," explains Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Eat Your Way to Happiness. "Anything you can do to rein things in makes a difference." That means working out before the soiree, having a pre-party snack (so you're not ravenous later) and making the hors d'oeuvres your dinner. "Choose treats that won't pack on pounds and are special to the time of year," adds Somer. These smart food swaps can save you 800 calories in a night.

Instead of the Naughty ...
1/2 cup mixed roasted nuts (400 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
1/2 cup roasted chestnuts (104 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
3 bacon-wrapped dates (300 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
3 prosciutto-wrapped melon balls (75 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
2 frosted sugar cookies (320 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
2 plain sugar cookies (100 calorie, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
5 ounces regular chardonnay (120 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
5 ounces low-cal chardonnay (80 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
6 coconut shrimp (435 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
6 steamed shrimp with 2 tablespoons cocktail sauce (77 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
2 tablespoons nut-topped cheese-ball spread with 4 crackers (194 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
8 cheddar cheese cubes with 4 crackers (190 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
2 chocolate chip cookies (300 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
2 chocolate meringue cookies (50 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
1 cup spicy eggnog (360 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
1 cup light eggnog (160 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
4 Swedish meatballs (398 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
4 grilled chicken skewers (268 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
1/2 cup spinach dip with 1/2 cup baby carrots (585 calories , left photo)

... Have the Nice
1/2 cup Greek yogurt ranch dip with 1/2 cup baby carrots (265 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
1 slice gingerbread cake (299 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
2 gingerman cookies (65 calories, right photo)

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Instead of the Naughty ...
1 cup hot buttered rum (301 calories, left photo)

... Have the Nice
1 cup spiced apple cider with a shot of rum (180 calories, right photo)

Sources/experts: Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Eat Your Way to Happiness; Christine Avanti, C.N., author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food; and Coral Arvon, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral Health & Wellness at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa.

Originally published in the December 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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