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It wouldn’t be the holiday season without our favorite foods — and smart indulgences are part of enjoyable holiday eating. And when it comes to holiday eating, there are no bad foods — just bad portions!
If you’re someone who wants the "real thing," who's not interested in “lightening up” a dish, you can be a mindful eater by downsizing your portions of indulgent foods and balancing them with more fruits and vegetables. It is definitely possible to enjoy all the treats of the season and still zip up your pants!
Particularly with appetizers, where it’s only a bite or two, the calories for a single item can be low — but they add up quickly. Keep a running tally of your intake for better control.
Check out some of our favorite holiday appetizers below for some smart choices. Which of these favorites have fewer calories?
3 pigs in blankets or 3 mini Swedish meatballs?
It’s the meatballs, with 90 calories (a single meatball is 30 calories). The “three little pigs” weigh in at 210 calories (one has 70 calories).
3 tomato bruschetta or 3 coconut shrimp?
It’s the bruschetta, with 60 calories (20 calories each). The coconut shrimp have about 150 calories for three (50 calories each).
4 crackers topped with baked brie or 4 crackers topped with creamy spinach-artichoke dip?
It’s the crackers with spinach artichoke dip with 170 calories (42 calories for one). The baked brie on crackers has about 320 calories (80 calories for a single).
3 vegetable and cheese stuffed mushrooms or 3 mini-crab cakes?
It’s the stuffed mushrooms with 90 calories (30 calories each). The mini crab cakes have about 150 calories for three (50 calories for one).
2 deviled eggs (halves) or two bacon-wrapped dates?
It’s the bacon-wrapped dates (using a thin slice of bacon) it’s about 80 calories (40 calories for one). The deviled egg halves weigh in at around 140 calories (70 calories for each).
Part of mindful eating is to survey all of the appetizers and make a plan. By limiting your serving size, you can boost the variety without adding more calories. And calorie savings from the appetizers can be used for other parts of your holiday eating. Smart indulgences are all about bartering.
Madelyn Fernstrom is NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.