12 least healthy holiday foods: Which festive foods to avoid for your health

Read on for some of the foods to skip as you build your holiday plate this year.

Family drinking homemade eggnog by the Christmas tree having fun. Beautiful woman and man with dauhter together. Christmas tree on background. Hygge concept
From eggnog to frosted sugar cookies, here's the 12 least healthy holiday foods. (Photo via Getty Images)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

When the holiday season comes around, you know there's bound to be food galore.

While many holiday foods are both nutritious and satisfying, some won’t do you any favours when it comes to your health.

Read on for some of the foods to skip as you build your holiday plate this year.

Cranberry sauce

Cranberries on their own are healthy, but one serving of canned cranberry sauce has about 6 teaspoons of sugar, which adds an extra 100 calories.

Try making your own cranberry sauce to eliminate some of the sugar and to reap the powerful antioxidant benefits of cranberries.

Tinned cranberry sauce cut in slices on a white plate with fresh cranberries and greens
Cranberry sauce is filled with added sugar. (Photo via Getty Images)


Eggnog, with or without alcohol, is one of the most popular festive drinks around the holidays.

Before you ladle out a glass, keep in mind that one serving without alcohol has nearly 400 calories and 18 grams of fat — this is due to the cream and whole milk ingredients.

Add alcohol and the calories only increase.

Winter spicy hot drink eggnog in a glasses on a dark slate, stone or concrete background.
Eggnog is high in calories and fat. (Photo via Getty Images)


Although it has the word fruit in it, fruitcake is anything but healthy.

Most fruitcakes contain dried fruit, which is higher in sugar (by volume) than fresh fruit. On top of that, this cake has additional added sugar along with fattening ingredients like butter and syrup. Together, this makes for a dessert that’s high in both calories and fat.

If you want to make a healthier version of fruitcake for the holidays, swap out butter for Greek yogurt to lower the fat and add protein.

Holiday fruit cake isolated on white
Despite being a holiday favourite, fruitcake is anything but healthy. (Photo via Getty Images)

Mulled wine

While red wine has several health benefits, none of them apply to mulled wine.

Mulled wine gets its unique taste from a blend of spices and quite a bit of added sugar. While a normal glass of red wine has just 1 gram, the same serving of mulled wine has a whopping 14 grams of sugar.

If you’re going to have that much sugar, you might as well have dessert!

Hot red mulled wine isolated on white background with christmas spices and shortcakes
Mulled wine has a whopping 14 grams of sugar. (Photo via Getty Images)

Sweet potato casserole

Sweet potatoes are a very healthy choice since they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and complex carbs.

However, many sweet potato casserole recipes call for sugar, butter and marshmallows, which eliminate any nutritional value from the vegetables themselves.

If you like sweet potatoes, try a healthier recipe that skips the marshmallows and added sugar.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans and Marshmallows
Sweet potato casserole usually calls for sugar, butter and marshmallows. (Photo via Getty Images)

Pecan pie

Like sweet potatoes, pecans can have several health benefits.

The problem with pecan pie is that the filling is loaded with corn syrup and brown sugar, and the crust contains butter and sugar.

One piece usually has around 500 calories, not including whipped cream or ice cream on top. Instead, go for pumpkin pie, which is about 300 calories per slice and has less sugar.

A delicious home made pie straight from the oven.
Pecan pie is high in calories and sugar. (Photo via Getty Images)

Creamy soups

Creamy soups are delicious and comforting in the winter.

Unfortunately, creamy soups often have a lot of cream, which is high in both fat and calories. This saturated fat isn’t good for heart health, which knocks creamy soups down another point.

When choosing a soup for the holidays, go for something broth-based that has some veggies in it.

Pumpkin creamy soup on dark wooden background. Top view.
Creamy soup contains saturated fat, which isn’t good for heart health. (Photo via Getty Images)

Spinach and artichoke dip

This dip is a classic holiday appetizer, but the calories quickly add up as the traditional recipe calls for cream cheese, sour cream and mayo.

As spinach and artichokes have several health benefits, lighten up your recipe with Greek yogurt or reduced-fat cream cheese.

Better yet, serve hummus as a tasty dip instead.

Tortilla chip dipping into Cheesy Spinach Dip
Spinach and artichoke dip is a classic holiday appetizer, but the calories quickly add up. (Photo via Getty Images)

Prime rib

Prime rib is often at the centre of the holiday table since it’s tender, juicy and elegant. Even so, it comes from the fattiest part of the cow so it’s high in fat and calories.

An 85-gram serving has nearly 300 calories and 24 grams of fat, and many people eat portions larger than this. If you like beef, go for a leaner cut.

Roasted Boneless Prime Beef Rib Roast Ready to Eat
Prime rib is high in fat and calories. (Photo via Getty Images)

Green bean casserole

Green bean casserole can be deceiving since it’s full of healthy green beans (and sometimes mushrooms).

However, the canned soup, fried onions and cheese wipe away any of the benefits of the veggies. One serving usually has 7 grams of fat or more, depending on the recipe.

There are ways to lighten up your recipe or you can opt for green beans almondine instead.

Homemade Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole with Mushrooms and Onions
Green bean casserole can be deceiving. (Photo via Getty Images)

Sausage stuffing

Stuffing is a holiday staple. One popular variety is sausage stuffing, a savoury recipe that has meat and veggies tossed in.

Since pork sausage is high in fat, a serving of sausage stuffing can have upwards of 30 grams of fat depending on the recipe.

Use turkey or chicken sausage or skip the meat entirely to lower the calories and fat.

sausage stuffing overhead shot in a white baking dish
Sausage stuffing is filled with fat. (Photo via Getty Images)

Frosted sugar cookies

With sugar in the name, you already know these sweet treats aren’t going to be the healthiest option.

While the cookie itself might not be that bad, the layer of icing and sprinkles that adorn the cookies add more sugar to the mix. A single cookie can have 16 grams of sugar or more.

Healthier options might be gingerbread cookies or meringues.

colorful hand-made Christmas cookies
Frosted sugar cookies aren't the healthiest holiday cookie. (Photo via Getty Images(

The bottom line

Food is an important part of the holidays, especially when you enjoy it in good company.

Now that you know some of the worst foods, you can pick and choose what to eat if you’re looking out for your health.

And with a few tweaks, many of these recipes can be altered to cut out some of the calories and fat.

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