Avoid extra pounds from high-calorie, high-fat holiday favorites with these tips.

With major holidays approaching, these next few months can be the most calorie-dense time of the year.

A 2014 study from the University of Utah shows the average American consumes 4,500 calories and nearly 230g of fat on Thanksgiving Day. That amount is more than twice the calories and more than three times the fat of the recommended daily allowance.

Another study by Texas A&M from 2010 shows the average American eats an extra 619 calories a day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. A 2015 report in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that, during that same time frame, the average weight gain for Americans is 5 pounds.



A typical holiday meal may contain more than 3,000 calories. Before digging in this season, see how many calories and grams of fat your favorite dishes contain:
FOOD                                              SERVING SIZE                 CALORIES                            FAT

Green olives                                       ½ cup                                 77                                    8g
Cheese ball with nuts                     2 Tbsp.                               246                                20g
Mixed nuts                                         ½ cup                                 407                                35g

Side dishes

Croissant                                              1 roll                                  100                                  6g
Bread stuffing                                     1 cup                                 355                               17g
Sweet potato casserole                   1 cup                                 276                                  6g
Mashed potatoes                              1 cup                                 238                                  8g
Glazed carrots                                    1 cup                                 217                                12g
Cranberry sauce                               ½ cup                                 209                                  0g
Green bean casserole                      1 cup                                 143                                  8g

Main dishes

Roasted turkey, no skin                 4 slices                                190                                 6g
Baked ham                                        3 slices                                 345                              21g
Beef pot roast                                   3 slices                                387                               27g


Cheesecake                              112 of 9” cake                            412                               25g
Pumpkin pie, no

whipped cream                           18 of 9” pie                             323                               15g
Pecan pie                                       18 of 9” pie                             456                               21g
Apple pie                                     112 of 9” pie                             356                               17g
Bread pudding                                 1 cup                                   311                               10g

Follow some of these suggestions to help navigate the feasts and parties with your waistline intact:


If you are preparing dishes, try trimming some of the fat off the meat before you cook.


There are some easy ingredient switches that really add up. A sugar-free gelatin in the holiday salad can save up to 60 calories per dish over one with sugar. Fat-free soups in casseroles can also cut as many as 60 calories out of a single dish. Use chicken bouillon instead of butter when sautéing vegetables for stuffing and other dishes to cut 100 calories or more.


Make sure you’re getting enough water, as the body can confuse thirst for hunger, leading to overeating. Be mindful of what you drink. Mochas, eggnog and adult beverages can pack a lot of calories in a single glass.


Aside from feeling bloated, some other things happen  to your body when you stuff yourself with food. The body’s internal temperature increases to help process all the calories, which in some cases may  lead to fever. Moderate to severe heartburn is another result of eating too much.


It seems like a clever idea, but skipping lunch to compensate for what you know will be a big, rich dinner can actually lead you to overeat, throwing off your natural metabolism.


If you’re at a party and there is dancing, work off that dessert or high-calorie cocktail. At a family gathering, take a walk as a group before or after the meal to burn calories and spend healthy time together.


Taking a break from your workout routine during these months does you no favors. If anything, add an extra mile on the treadmill or another 10 minutes to your workout routine to help boost your metabolism and work off those extra calories.