When the season’s all about excess, portion control may be the last thing on our minds. And that’s completely fine — after all, what are New Year’s resolutions for? But for those looking to keep things on the healthier side (or at least consider it), it is possible to be merry while watching your waistline. From cheese and crackers to cookies and dips, there’s a proper serving size for all of our favorite holiday party foods. Read on for Greatist’s portion guide for a healthier holiday season.
Veggies & Dip
Serving Size Equivalent: Six crayons, one ping-pong ball
155 calories, 14 grams of fat There’s nothing wrong with veggies — except when they’re diving into a rich, creamy vat of ranch. Made from mayonnaise, buttermilk, and herbs, America’s favorite dressing is always best in moderation. And by moderation, we mean just one ounce of the heavy stuff, which packs around 140 calories and 14 grams of fat. Seriously spooked? Consider downing your daily dose of vegetables au natural.
Pigs in Blankets
Serving Size Equivalent: Two C batteries 188 calories, 12 grams of fat Cocktail franks wrapped in flakey pastry dough…. Yeah, these little piggies had us at hello. But check out the nutrition label, and things can get a little hog wild. Two bite-size hors d’oeuvres can rack up close to 190 calories and 12 grams of fat, not to mention 350 mg of sodium (about 15 percent of the daily recommended intake).
Serving Size Equivalent: Six Hannukah dreidels 25 calories, 3 grams of fat Whether they’re served on the table or in your martini glass, these heart-healthy fruits are fair game — in moderation, of course. A serving of six olives rolls in at just 25 calories and three grams of fat (plus some vitamin A, calcium, and iron, too). Sodium-conscious folks, just keep in mind about 10 percent of the recommended daily dose of sodium will come from this handful of olives alone.
Serving Size Equivalent: Combination lock 68 calories, 5 grams of fat Heaps of mayonnaise, mustard, and salt make this dressed-up egg a dangerfood in disguise. The classic two-bite app will set diners back about 70 calories and five grams of fat (per half-egg!). For a healthier twist on the party favorite, swap in low-fat mayo, and try some non-fat cottage cheese to stand in for some of the yolks.
Spinach Artichoke Dip & Sliced Baguette
Serving Size Equivalent: Two dominoes, a deck of cards 144 calories, 8 grams of fat So we know downing the whole skillet is a nutritional no-no (at Applebee’s that’s 1,570 calories and 105 grams of fat for those counting at home). But what if we told you the recommended serving size was just two measly tablespoons (clocking in at 90 calories and 8 grams of fat)? To soften the blow, dig in with a few whole-wheat pita chips or two small slices of whole-wheat bread. (No, spoon-to-mouth is rarely the way to go.)
Serving Size Equivalent: Five miniature candy canes, one golf ball 180 calories, 1 gram of fat t’s. About. To go. Down. Partygoers can feel fine about making a b-line for the shrimp cocktail platter. Five pieces of this shellfish and one ounce of cocktail sauce will only set the party back 180 calories (and just one gram of fat). Bonus: That serving also packs 27 grams of protein — a better option to fill up on instead of empty-calorie chips and dips.
Cheddar Cheese & Crackers
Serving Size Equivalent: Two dice, a small MacBook charger 03 calories, 11 grams of fat Roll the dice, and well, you’re through. The recommended serving size for most chesses is just one ounce, the size equivalent of two dice, or about the size of your thumb. And while the (amazingly delicious) food is high in calcium, it’s also high in calories (mostly from fat), and needs a cracker or three to bring it home. Picking the spread yourself? Look for low-fat cheeses paired with unsalted whole-grain crackers as opposed to high-sodium saltines.
Chips & Salsa
Serving Size Equivalent: Three post-its, four legos 70 calories, 3 grams of fat Efficient as it is, you may want to rethink bringing over the big bowl of Tostitos (and placing it directly on your lap). One serving of the carb-heavy snack is just three to five chips. Don’t be afraid to scoop the salsa a little more liberally though: Two tablespoons will only add 10 calories and zero grams of fat. Pro tip: Be sure to check the sugar content on the jar — the healthiest varieties will have no more than one or two grams of sugar per serving.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Serving Size Equivalent: Two athletic medals 170 calories, 8 grams of fat You’ve earned it — sometimes even times two. But when it comes to self-medicating with baked goods (guilty as charged), it’s hard to keep track of the nutrition facts, especially when the best treats are never store-bought. To play it safe, cap things off at two smaller-sized cookies (about 2 ½ inches in diameter), or one serving of a larger-sized dessert (for cake or pie, remember that’s a slice the size equivalent of a light bulb).
Serving Size Equivalent: A three-ounce espresso cup 143 calories, 6 grams of fat So it’s more than a shot, we’ll give you that. But this thick, dairy-based drink isn’t for the faint of heart. Traditionally made from whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, eggs, and spices, an eight-ounce glass packs 380 calories, 16 grams of fat, and a whopping 46 grams of sugar. Add in the booze and that’s an additional 70 calories (or more). Can’t abstain from egg nog? Stick to an espresso-glass amount (or just under half a cup) for a less-indulgent serving size.
Wondering how to portion out that buffet plate after the hors d'oeuvres have been passed? Check out our serving size guide for popular holiday dinner foods!
Is there a place for portion control at your holiday party? Tell us your game day strategy in the comments below, or tweet Jordan directly at @jshakeshaft.
Photos by Jordan Shakeshaft with Kate Morin.