Do you wonder what's the best choice to make at that holiday party or family get-together? Whether it's determining which options have the fewest calories, sodium or fat, it can be difficult to make food choices. Believe it or not, there are health benefits to many of the holiday foods we eat. And if you make a few tweaks to those favorite holiday dishes, you can reap the health benefits while saving unwanted extra calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Take this quiz to test your knowledge and make some simple changes to the foods you eat this holiday season!

Wine cropped glass only.jpg

1. The Average American gains 5 or more pounds during the holidays.

            TRUE or FALSE?

2. Which appetizer has the fewest calories?

a. 1 oz. of brie cheese + 4 crackers

b. ¼ cup of nuts

c. 2 Tablespoons of hummus with 1 cup of vegetables

3. Which cocktail has the least calories?

a. A rum and Coke®

b. A martini

c. A whiskey sour

4. Which food has the most sodium?

a. ½ cup packaged bread stuffing

b. ½ cup homemade mashed potatoes

c. 1 dinner roll

5. Which alcoholic beverage has the fewest calories:

a. 5 oz. glass of red or white  wine

b. 12 oz. bottle of IPA beer

c. 6 oz. mug of holiday Eggnog

6. Which meat contains the LEAST amount of fat?

a. 3 ounces of boneless ham

b. 3 ounces of boneless duck with skin

c. 3 ounces of turkey leg no skin

7. Which side dish offers the most nutrition?

a. Roasted sweet potatoes

b. Sautéed green beans

c. Tossed green salad with vinaigrette

d. All of the above

8. Which pie has the fewest calories and fat? (Serving = 1/8th of 9-inch pie)

a. Pumpkin Pie w. 2 Tablespoons whipped cream

b. Apple Pie w. ½ cup vanilla ice cream

c. Pecan Pie

9. Which warm non-alcoholic beverage has the fewest calories?

a. 12 oz. mug of hot apple cider

b. Starbucks Tall (12 oz.) Nonfat, Peppermint Mocha, no whip

c. Starbucks Tall (12oz.) Nonfat, Gingerbread Latee

10. Which type of exercise is best to do regularly?

a. Swimming

b. Interval Training

c. Yoga

d. Brisk Walking

e. All of the Above


1. FALSE. Although there are many claims that the average weight gain during the holidays is 5-10 pounds, most Americans gain 1 or 2 pounds during the holidays. The problem is, they don’t lose the extra weight over the year, but instead continue to gradually gain weight, so over 10 years that adds up to an extra 10 - 20 pounds or more, increasing the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer to name just a few.

2. C. 2 Tablespoons of hummus with 1 cup of vegetables. I know it’s obvious, but it’s an important point. Load up on vegetables when they’re available as an appetizer. They take longer to eat and add so few calories that you can eat them while socializing and no harm done to your waistline.

3. B. A martini contains 135 calories, the whiskey sour contains 158 calories, and the rum and Coke contains 211 calories.

4. A. ½ cup packaged bread stuffing. A serving of The stuffing contains 400-450mg of sodium, while homemade mashed potatoes typically contain about 120mg- 350mg, depending on how much salt you add, and a dinner roll contains 130mg-170 mg.

5. A. The 5 oz. glass of red or white wine has 125 calories, while the IPA averages 220 calories and the Eggnog with brandy averages 350 calories.

6. A & C.   Both the ham and the turkey leg, no skin contain 8 grams of fat, while duck contains a whopping 25 grams of fat. However, if you choose turkey breast without the skin (or gravy) only has 1 gram of fat per 3 ounces.

7. D. All of the above. These are all great choices when prepared with a moderate amount of oil because you maximize the nutrition while minimizing the extra calories from sugar and fat. Consider preparing one or more of these side dishes instead of traditional sweet potatoes with sugar and marshmallows, green bean casserole or other vegetable casseroles.

8. A. Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream has about 320 calories + 14g fat; Apple Pie with ice cream has about 495 calories + 23g fat; Pecan Pie with no toppings has 500 calories.

9. C. The gingerbread latte has 150 calories, 0g fat and 28g sugar. The hot apple cider has 180 calories, 0g fat and 40g sugar. The peppermint mocha has 240 calories, 2g fat and 40g sugar. Keep in mind the calories would be much higher for the Starbucks drinks if a higher fat milk or whipped cream is added.

10. D. All of the above have benefits and the benefits are different, so incorporating a variety of types of exercise is ideal. For example, swimming provides a whole body workout, using both upper and lower body while also increasing your heart rate. Interval training can provide both strength training and cardio benefits, depending on the routine. There are many types of yoga, but some of the many benefits are improving balance, strength, flexibility and relaxation. Brisk walking is a great cardiovascular activity that gets blood pumping, lowers blood sugar, strengthens the heart and can be done anywhere. The Bottom Line: choose activities that you enjoy, can incorporate throughout your day and week and are ones you’re more likely to continue long-term.

Agricultural Research Service, US Dept of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 27. US Dept of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/. Accessed December 3, 2017.

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)