Get Ready for the Christmas Calorie Countdown

Here are a few Christmas foods that can sneak up on you, and what it would take to burn off those calories:

HANDFUL OF MIXED NUTS = 36 minutes of standing in line to see Santa with three rambunctious kids (mild calisthenics)

Fit Tip: Nuts are healthy, but they’re high in calories (1 ounce is 170 calories)

ONE CRACKER WITH CHEESE = 30 minutes of preparing and serving Christmas dinner

Fit Tip: Try low fat cheese and 100 percent whole wheat crackers.

ONE LARGE SCOOP OF BREAD STUFFING WITH SAUSAGE = Dancing to “The Nutcracker” for 65 minutes

Fit Tip: Try preparing the stuffing with whole wheat croutons, chopped apple, celery and onion, and moistening it with chicken broth.

A HALF CUP OF CRANBERRY SAUCE = 22 minutes dancing as a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall

Fit Tip: Watch how much you use; traditional turkey gravy is actually lower in calories than cranberry sauce.

ONE CUP CANDIED SWEET POTATOES = 154 minutes of Christmas shopping

Fit Tip: Sweet potatoes are generally healthy; however, candied sweet potatoes also contain butter, brown sugar, and sometimes even marmalade, honey, maple syrup, marshmallows and/or pecans, which can add up to more than 450 calories for a 1-cup portion. Instead, put the sweet potato in the microwave until it’s soft, then mash it up with some margarine spray and salt; you’ll be more than satisfied at about one-third the calories.

2 SERVINGS OF DARK MEAT TURKEY (WITH SKIN) = 104 minutes of decorating the tree

Fit Tip: The dark meat has about 15 percent more calories than white meat. A 3.5-ounce serving of turkey breast with skin has about 153 calories; dark meat with skin has about 182 calories. To save calories, remove the skin, but not until after the turkey is cooked (otherwise the meat will dry out during the long cooking time). White meat without skin: 135 calories; dark meat without skin: 162 calories. Also, roast the turkey on a rack so that it is not sitting in its own juices (i.e., fat). Baste it with apple juice or low-fat chicken broth instead of its own juices.

2 CUPS OF BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP = 55 minutes shoveling snow

Fit Tip: Limit the butter, oil or cream used in the preparation. Try nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream or heavy cream as your thickener which add up to 390 calories)

1 SLICE OF PECAN PIE = 52 minutes of playing nonstop professional football

Fit Tip: Skip the whipped cream, which adds an extra 80 to 100 calories per serving. And skip the pie a la mode (and save 270 calories.

Charles Platkin, Ph.D., is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of, and the director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College.