Festive foods taste insanely amazing for a reason: They’re fully loaded with your tastebuds’ favorite ingredients: fat and sugar. While precise calorie counts vary widely based on specific family recipes (and exactly how much your grandma force-feeds you), you’d be smart to go easy on these notoriously heavy holiday foods, which can contain nearly a meal’s worth of calories or more. (Or? Say the hell with it, and reach for these foods first! After all, it’s only once a year.)
1. Pecan Pie (About 503 calories per 1/8 of a standard pie)
Yes nuts are healthy – they’re full of good-for-you fats that help your body absorb nutrients from other foods, support healthy brain functioning, and fend off chronic disease. But these fats contribute extra calories to an already colossal holiday meal. And sadly, one healthy ingredient doesn’t transform a decadent dessert into a health food. Pecan pie is particularly offensive because it contains lots of butter and is loaded with sugars from brown sugar, corn syrup, and molasses.
2. Turkey Leg (About 334 calories each)
Thigh meat is plenty flavorful, but it’s got much more fat than breast meat, which has about 212 calories. And that’s before you hit the stuffing.
3. Homemade Gravy (About 375 calories per serving)
Some homemade recipes have more calories than the main event. Besides, ever wonder what gravy is made of? It’s basically a strained stew of the fattiest parts of the meat or bird, butter, cooking juices (aka meat fat), flour, plus some spices and herbs. No wonder it tastes so freaking good.
4. Sweet Potatoes Casserole (About 400 calories per 200-gram serving)
Again, calories largely depend on the recipe (everyone and their mom has their own). But if classic recipes with sweet potatoes, butter, sugar, marshmallows have upwards of 600 calories, yours can’t be far behind.
5. Wine (About 246 calories per 10-ounce serving, or two skimpy glasses)
So one glass of wine (123 calories) isn’t that terrible for your health – especially if it helps you tolerate your little cousin’s whining and find some humor in your drunk uncle’s jokes.) But the calories really rack up when you drink a more realistic amount, like the entire bottle, which ill cost you nearly 500 calories and then some when you drunk-eat dessert.
6. Potato Pancakes (About 250 calories per serving)
Kind of like seasonal French fries, potato pancakes (aka latkes) are deep-fried potato shreds that just so happen to taste incredible. They’d be calorie bombs even if you could physically limit yourself to one serving. (Like eating a single French fry, that’s just not possible.)
7. Mashed Potatoes (About 430 calories per serving)
As if eating straight-up mashed carbs isn’t enough to raise a red flag in the health department, the heavy cream and oil or butter (ingredients that make mashed potatoes taste extra fluffy and smooth) really increase the calorie count.
8. Creamed Spinach (About 250 calories per serving)
Yes, this is greenish and technically counts as a vegetable. But when you infuse Popeye’s favorite food with cream and cheese and cream cheese, you tack on 20 grams of fat and turn the healthiest-sounding side dish into one that’s worth avoiding.
9. Eggnog (About 838 calories per quart)
Yes, per quart – because if you buy a carton of this deliciously evil mixture of eggs, cream, and sugar, and you put it in your fridge, you know you’re going to finish the entire thing at some point. And good luck if you spike your drink with a shot of rum – it could cost you upwards of 100 more calories per heavy-handed pour.
10. Dunkin Donuts Crumb Cake Pumpkin Donut (450 calories for one)
If you walk into DD for a coffee and impulsively walk out with one of these, you’ll end up eating nearly 500 extra calories and a sugar high you didn’t bargain for. (But honestly, crumb cake and pumpkin pie!? Still sounds like a sacred piece of ~hEaVeN~.)
11. Snickerdoodle Cookies (480 calories in two cookies)
These cookie are the lovechild of sugar and butter, with a delightful dash of cinnamon. (Never. Change.) Despite your deepest appreciation for the brilliant baker who invented them, these addicting cookies are chockfull of fat and sugar, hence the high calorie count. (Which doesn’t even include milk, for the record.)
12. Macadamia Caramel Crisp Popcorn (590 calories per 100-gram serving)
Never mind movie theater popcorn. The fancy stuff is what really gets you, mostly because it contains more nuts, butter, and sugar than actual popcorn. If you receive a tin of the stuff masked as a gift, beware before you eat it by the handful. (And at the very least, call it what it is: a very, very decadent dessert.)
13. Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Drink (540 calories for a venti 20-oz serving)
No surprise here. After all, this XXL holiday drink is made with whole milk and whipped cream. (If that means nothing to you, this might: It has more calories than a slice of pecan pie. And apart from coffee jitters, it won’t even give you a real buzz.)