Your Guide To Healthy Holiday Eating

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Mouthwatering mounds of turkey, a mile-high pile of mashed potatoes, slice after slice of pumpkin pie. Getting hungry yet? Let the gluttonous eating begin! Or not!

Before you load up on multiple helpings of Thursday's Thanksgiving feast, do your body a favor and don't compromise your hard-earned physical gains. Check out the video below to learn why controlled eating is wise, and read on to fill up on holiday eating and hydration picks from Leslie Bonci, nutrition consultant for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bonci's Holiday Eating Picks and Portion Control Tips

Appetizers/Hors d'Oeuvres
Go for salted nuts. They are among Bonci's top choices, because they offer sodium, which she encourages athletes to be especially cognizant of consuming. Sodium helps maintain proper fluid balance and reduces the risk of dehydration. Don't go completely nuts, though. Keep portions in check—aim for just a handful.

Salted mixed nuts (handful): 170 cal // 15g fat // 5g carbs // 6g protein
Fruit tray (1C pineapple & cantaloupe): 64 cal // 0g fat // 16g carbs // 1g protein
Veggie tray (1C cauliflower & carrots): 38 cal // 0g fat // 8g carbs// 1g protein
Tortilla chips & salsa (10 chips w/ ½C salsa): 109 cal // 3g fat // 20g carbs // 3g protein

Beverages
Eggnog is heavy in calories. A sip or two? OK, but if the 345 calories in a cup isn't shock value enough, how about the 20 grams of fat? (Note, some brands have only 10 grams of fat per cup. Still, that's 10 grams of fat!)

Low-fat milk (8 fl. oz.): 100 cal // 2g fat // 12g carbs // 8g protein
Hot cocoa w/ skim milk (6 fl. oz.): 166 cal // 3g fat // 27g carbs // 9g protein
Apple cider (8 fl. oz.): 120 cal // 0g fat // 30g carbs //0g protein

Main dishes
Two of the best "holiday" protein options are dark meat turkey, which packs more iron than white meat, and ham. Yes, contrary to what you might think, Bonci says ham is actually quite lean.

Turkey (3 oz. light and dark meat): 117 cal // 5g fat // 1g carbs // 16g protein
Ham (4 slices): 183 cal // 10g fat // 4g carbs // 19g protein

Sides
Your plate isn't complete without a starchy side dish. Go for yams or sweet potatoes, because, Bonci says, "they're a great source of carbs and usually don't tend to be too fatty."  The proper portion is about one-third of your plate. Avoid the sugary marshmallow topping.

Sweet potato casserole (1C): 200 cal // 4g fat // 40g carbs // 2g protein
Mashed potatoes (1C): 174 cal // 1g fat // 37g carbs // 4g protein
Stuffing (½ C): 177 cal // 9g fat // 22g carbs // 3g protein

Desserts
Two words: pumpkin pie. The holiday classic is Bonci's preferred dessert pick, because it "rates as a nutritionally wonderful option." Or, opt for slivers of fruit-based pies:

Pumpkin pie (1/6 slice): 240 cal // 8g fat // 36g carbs // 6g protein
Blueberry pie (1/6 slice): 271 cal // 12g fat // 41g carbs // 2g protein
Apple pie (1/6 slice): 277 cal // 13g fat // 40g carbs // 2g protein
Cherry pie (1/6 slice): 304 cal // 13g fat // 46g carbs // 2g protein

Source:  nutrition.gov, livestrong.com
Photos:  newyork.seriouseats.com, kitchenparade.com, foodnetwork.com, nutsonline.com, examiner.com


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock