The 9 Most Fattening Foods of Winter
Controlling weight during the cold, dark days of winter is an issue for most of us. Studies show that many people gain at least a pound between November and January. And the worst part: That gain is usually permanent. Blame it on the cold weather that makes outdoor exercise less appealing, cravings for fattening comfort foods, and the seemingly endless weeks of holiday celebrating. And of course, you can hide your expanding waistline under layers of warm clothing. It’s a wonder more of us don’t gain more than a pound each winter!
Once you no longer have that youthful metabolism that lets you eat donuts, French fries, and fried chicken without gaining an ounce, it is time to cut down — or even eliminate — some of the most fattening foods, experts say. It’s certainly OK to splurge on the occasional small portion of a decadent food, but most adults do better if they stay clear of the temptations.
“Keep in mind that it is easier to keep your weight stable than it is to take off the pounds” says Jayne Hurley, RD, senior nutritionist for the nonprofit watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The foods that “talk” to us in winter tend to be hearty comforting and holiday favorites that are also often packed with artery-clogging fat, calories, and sodium.
“In summer there is an abundance of light foods, but when winter rolls around it is natural to want to beef up and yearn for richer foods,” says Katherine Tallmadge, MS, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman.
And, of course, the American way is to have more than just one calorie-rich dish (witness the popularity of the holiday buffet). Studies show, the greater the variety, the more we eat.
“If there are 10 types of holiday cookies or several creamed side dishes, it only makes sense that you want to try them all,” says Tallmadge, “and in the end, a wide variety encourages overeating.”
Most Fattening Foods of Winter
So what are the worst winter foods, the calorie-packed culprits that we should stay away from? The truth, experts say, is that there really are no “bad” foods. A few bites of even the most fattening food can fit into your diet. But there certainly are foods that are worse for us than others. When you check out the nutritional numbers on these foods, keep in mind that most adults need fewer than 2,000 calories, 65 grams of total fat, and 20 grams of saturated fat each day.
Here are picks from the experts for the nine winter foods most likely to pack on the pounds:
1. Macaroni and cheese. It’s an all-time favorite comfort food for both kids and adults, but it can wreak havoc with your diet. A 12-ounce serving of Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese has 529 calories, 25.7 grams of fat, and 10.6 grams of saturated fat. Calories can climb higher when ingredients like high-fat meats or sausage are tossed in. And some restaurants even sell deep-fried mac and cheese as an appetizer! Your best bet when eating out is simply to find another side dish. At home, “modify the recipe by using a low-fat cheese, low-fat milk, and stretch it with additional vegetables to improve the nutritional profile and still taste great,” says Liz Weiss, author of The Mom’s Guide to Meal Makeovers.
2. Cream-based soups, bisques and chowders. “Warm soups and chowders feel so nutritious, but if they are loaded with cream, they are also loaded with calories,” says Tallmadge. Soups also tend to be high in sodium, and if you crumble salty crackers into the bowl or top with cheese, the sodium level soars even higher. A one-cup serving of Harry’s Lobster Bisque (Costco) has 380 calories, 27 grams of fat, 16 grams saturated fat, and 1,240 milligrams of sodium. The New England clam chowder at Chili’s, meanwhile, has 940 calories, 65 grams fat, and 34 grams of saturated fat. “Choose soups that are broth based, like vegetable or minestrone, and pair it with a salad or a whole-wheat roll,” suggests Tallmadge.
3. Cream- and cheese-based casseroles, or those topped with cheese, bacon, fried onions, or buttered crackers. Who doesn’t love the traditional hash brown casserole, gooey with cheese and potatoes? But brace yourself, because one serving has 568 calories, 40 grams of fat and 21 grams of saturated fat — and this is for a side dish! Creamed, scalloped, and au gratin dishes may start out with healthy ingredients like broccoli, green beans, or potatoes. But when you add cream, butter, and canned soups and top them with cheese, bacon, and/or fried breadcrumbs, you can easily quadruple the calories. “Shave calories by substituting low-calorie mix-ins such as fat-free sour cream, low-fat cheese, or reduced-fat soups,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Suzanne Farrell. For a tasty, healthy side dish, try oven-roasted vegetables — 6 ounces of oven-roasted new potatoes has just 100 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.Share this story: