Thus, the best way to head off this holiday threat is to limit yourself to a cookie or two. Rather than sampling each variety of cookie on display, choose only the most delectable for a taste, and follow this treat with fresh, crisp veggies or multigrain crackers to soothe the snacking impulse.
Perhaps some of the most calorie-heavy options at many holiday gatherings may be the ones that you eat without even noticing.
Hors d'oeuvres and other finger foods, depending on their ingredients, can contain a significant amount of calories, sugar and fat — all packed in a remarkably small package. And their small size makes it easy for you to eat a lot of these bite-size treats — a concern for diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
The key to navigating the finger-food trays, Heanue says, is to stick to options free from fatty sauces and garnishes.
"You want to stick to things like shrimp and salsa, or chicken — plain foods — as opposed to fried foods and puff pastry," she said, adding that creamy types of dessert should also be avoided.
Kaufman says an even better bet may be to bring a healthier alternative to the party yourself for all to enjoy.
"The best thing to bring is a big platter of veggies or cheese," she said.
What would the holidays be without pumpkin pie?
Much healthier, for one. While the fillings of popular pies are often loaded with sugar, the crust of these pies is often no healthier, adding a considerable dose of fat and calories to the equation.
Fortunately, there are a number of relatively diabetes-friendly recipes available for many of these favorites. These alternative approaches substitute some of the more offending ingredients with less fatty, less sugary alternatives.
"Instead of using cream, you may use low-fat milk as such," Salge Blake said. She adds that other favorites, such as apple pie, can be made healthier by eliminating the crust and adding oatmeal to make apple crisp instead.
"You should be asking yourself, 'how can I add whole grain? How can I add more fruit? Instead of using butter, can I use vegetable oil?'"
So if holiday desserts are among your favorite holiday indulgences, you might want to consider baking a healthier version of one of them yourself and bringing it to a holiday party for everyone to enjoy.
It's a perennial holiday favorite — and it may also be one of the unhealthiest foods in your holiday spread.
"There's no better name for this dish," Ayoob noted. "First, it stuffs the bird, then it stuffs our bellies, then it stuffs our thighs — a culinary trifecta if there ever was one."
Indeed, stuffing can represent a significant source of both carbs and calories — as well as fat. And because it is a side dish, many diners may be eating much more of it than they think.
But a bit of common sense — along with portion control — can go a long way in making this dish more healthy.
"Stuffing doesn't have to make you stuffed," Salge Blake said. She notes that diabetics may want to even consider bringing their own stuffing to holiday get-togethers — one that incorporates whole grain bread, healthier vegetable oils instead of butter and a generous complement of high-fiber vegetables and fruits.
Ideally, most people, diabetic or not, should also try to limit the amount of stuffing that finds its way onto their plates. Instead, leave more room for vegetables and other healthier options.