Party season calorie bombs (the foods you do want to avoid)

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If they have not already started, chances are you have a few parties already scheduled for the next few weeks.

Now, Christmas should never be about diets and deprivation, but when it comes to party food, there are definitely some festive favourites that pack a big punch when it comes to calories.

Dietitian Susie Burrell
Dietitian Susie Burrell warns; some festive calorie bombs are best avoided entirely. (Susie Burrell)

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Canapes

They may seem tiny, but even the smallest party snacks can be packed full of fat and calories. Any food with a pastry case including pies, sausage rolls and quiches as well as sweet treats like fruit mince tarts will offer a hearty dose of saturated, and often trans-fat, which can still be found in many commercially baked goods. In addition, pastry is a food that rates very low on satiety indexes, which means it is incredibly easy to overeat. As such, a blanket rule of skipping the pastry this Christmas will go a long way in keeping both your fat and calorie intake under control.

Careful with the cheese platters, some cold cuts can contain up to 30 per cent fat. (Getty)

Processed meats

The party season means plenty of entertaining platters and platters which tends to be filled with cheese, dips and a range of processed meats like salami, prosciutto and mortadella. Whilst deli meats are generally served in thin slices, they can contain up to 30 per cent fat and more than half your upper daily recommended intake of sodium.

Fried snacks

Arancini balls, chicken wings, spring rolls and salt and pepper squid are popular on party menus but with a single piece of a fried snack offering between 100-150 calories and 5-10g of fat it is easy to see how a few pieces off a platter can quickly equate to more calories than a meal. The good news is that you can find plenty of low-calorie canapes, including grilled meat skewers, sushi and seafood, so steer towards these options and avoid as much deep-fried food as you can.

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Choc-coated treats

‘Tis the season for choc-dipped treats — biscuits, fruit and nuts which can fill bowls and platters in many an office or home. While a handful of choc-dipped goodness may seem harmless enough, the numbers tell a different story.

For example: just 10 chocolate covered almonds has almost as many calories as a meal, while a handful of choc-coated sultanas contains 120 calories, 16g of sugars and more than 6g of fat.

The best way to manage these cheeky treats that slip into our days is to avoid grabbing handfuls of anything, and if you feel like a biscuit or chocolate, enjoy a set portion that you sit down and enjoy rather than mindlessly munching on extra calories throughout the day.

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Dips

Entertaining platters are extremely popular — visual feasts of meats, cheese, crackers and dips which appear pretty healthy thanks to their bright colours and pretty arrangements. One thing to keep in mind when arranging your favourite platter is that in general dips are anything but healthy. Usually made with high-fat cream cheese, oil or nuts as a base, a single tablespoon of dip can equate to as much as 5g of fat and 80-100 calories. If you consider that we usually enjoy dips with chips or crackers, you can literally down an entire meal of dip and crackers in a very short period of time.

Avoid a complete calorie overload on your platters by specifically seeking out low-calorie options such as beetroot or tzatziki dips, enjoy dips with chopped vegetables rather than crackers and portion out your serves so you are not tempted to keep dipping.

Shortbread

If you hail from the UK or Scotland, a giant tin of shortbread is sure to be on your family’s coffee table throughout December. The buttery, sugary biscuits are a rich tasty treat with a warm drink and even better now you can find chocolate varieties in supermarkets. The downside is that with 5g of fat and more than 100 calories in a single shortbread finger they can easily add hundreds of calories to your daily intake if you are munching on them through the day. A healthier option is a biscotti with just 20-30 calories and 1g of fat per serve or if you must have your shortbread, limit yourself to one biscuit each day.

Biscotti biscuits and Shortbread Christmas biscuits
A healthier alternative to shortbread is a biscotti, with just 20-30 calories and 1g of fat per serve. (iStock)

If you hail from the UK or Scotland, a giant tin of shortbread is sure to be on your family’s coffee table throughout December.

The buttery, sugary biscuits are a rich treat with a warm drink, and even better now you can find chocolate varieties in supermarkets. The downside is that with 5g of fat and more than 100 calories in a single shortbread finger, they can easily add hundreds of calories to your daily intake if you are munching on them through the day.

A healthier option is a biscotti, with just 20-30 calories and 1g of fat per serve or if you must have your shortbread, limit yourself to one biscuit each day.

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Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.

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