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The 10 Worst Holiday Party Foods—Steer Clear!

Hidden Unhealthy Foods

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Before you head to your hundredth holiday party of the season, it might be time to reevaluate your choices on munchies. You may think you're making healthy decisons (nuts! Right?), but some of your favorite foods can be quite deceptive. Don't fall into any more holiday food traps by avoid these 10 foods. (Psst... We've got 20 low-calorie cocktail ideas for you too!)

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Artichoke Dip

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Artichokes are filled with important nutrients like vitamin C, folate, and potassium, but they're not exactaly a health food once you drown them in cheese. Typical artichoke dip has about 200 calories per 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons), and that's not counting the crackers for dipping. It's reasonable to assume you'll go back for more a few times througout the night, which can quickly add up to a 400-500 calorie overload.

Instead: Max out with 2 tablespoons of dip and choose veggies instead of crackers.

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Traditional Eggnog

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This classic combination of eggs, cream, and sugar costs you about 300 calories per glass and a fair amount of artery-clogging saturated fat. Add a shot of rum, and you're upping it to 450 total calories.

Instead: Lighten it up by using nonfat milk and half eggs, half egg whites. Skip the booze, if you so choose, to cut back even more.

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Nut Mixes

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Confused? While nuts are filled with healthy fats and a boatload of essential nutrients, they're high in calories and perhaps the easiest snack to overeat. But if you end up standing in front of a salty bowl of mixed nuts, you may find yourself downing thousands of unwanted calories. Just one ounce of dry-roasted peanuts or almonds (about 23 nuts) contains 170 and 162 calories, respectively, and 14 grams of fat.

Instead: Take a small handful (about 1/4 cup) of mixed nuts (preferrably unsalted), and walk away. (Or make one of these 10 Healthy Nut Recipes and bring it to share!)

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Puff Pastry Wrapped Appetizers

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No matter if it's wrapped around cheese, chicken, or veggies, puff pastry is a staple on many holiday tables. It may taste light and flaky, but it can quickly weigh you down thanks to butter and trans fat. Since it typically goes hand in hand with finger-food appetizers, it's all too simple to pick up more, and more (and more) as you walk past the table.

Instead: Opt for apps that aren't hiding around dough, like chicken skewers.

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Meatballs

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Typically made from a combination of high-fat pork, beef, and veal, meatballs can unexpectedly drive up the levels of saturated fat and calories much higher than you probably bargained for.

Instead: Swap high-fat meat for 90 percent lean ground beef or turkey breast. You can even blend lean ground beef with chopped mushrooms to cut the calories even further without compromising on flavor.

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Cheese Platter

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The good news about cheese at parties: It's actually easier to digest for those with lactose sensitivity due to its lower levels of lactose compared to other dairy products. The bad news: No matter if it's Swiss or Camembert, cheese is generally high in saturated fat and calories. Just 1 ounce of Swiss contains 108 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat.

Instead: Control your portion, and complement 1 or 2 ounces of cheese with grapes and veggies. (P.S. You can't go wrong 13 Can’t-Go-Wrong Wine and Cheese Pairings.)

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Crab Cakes

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Fish may seem like the only smart choice on the table, and while some varieties can have beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, these cakes are not one of them. This dish is typically fried and made with a big dose of mayo. One crab cake can set you back a few hundred calories, and that's without any sauce on the side.

Instead: Switch to a lighter fish appetizer like shrimp cocktail.

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Spiked Punch Bowl

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Punch is basically juice, right? Wrong. The bowl may begin with juice (hello, sugar!), but it continues with alcohol and soda (even more sugar). Specialty cocktails, loaded with one spirit-and-sweetener combo after another, are not much better.

Instead: Stick with beer or wine where the calories are closer to 100-150 per serving. Remember that one serving of beer is 12 ounces (a bottle) and about 5 ounces for a glass of wine. If you opt for liqueur, choose a simple drink such as vodka with soda water or just enjoy it on the rocks.

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Peppermint Bark

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This white chocolate holiday treat comes in all shapes and sizes, but it also comes with a hefty calorie cost no matter how you eat it. One ounce of Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark contains 140 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 17 grams of sugar. Down a few pieces and we're talking close to 500 calories just on sweets—woah, sugar rush.

Instead: A peppermint candy can curb your craving for a lot fewer calories.

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Decked Out Desserts

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Between cream-filled desserts and sugary icings, you can rack up the calories from sweets wthout even thinking. But you'll end up with a stomachache and a sugar rush—not exactly a fun combination.

Instead: Scout the spread beforehand and choose one or two desserts you feel you just must try. If they're larger than bite-size portions, take half or split with a friend. (Hey! These 10 Healthy Desserts Sweetened with Natural Sugar Substitutes are delish.)

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