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.
BY THE NUMBERS
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
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
Roasted turkey, no skin 4 slices 190 6g
Baked ham 3 slices 345 21g
Beef pot roast 3 slices 387 27g
Cheesecake 1⁄12 of 9” cake 412 25g
Pumpkin pie, no
whipped cream 1⁄8 of 9” pie 323 15g
Pecan pie 1⁄8 of 9” pie 456 21g
Apple pie 1⁄12 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:
TRIM THE FAT
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.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
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.
DON’T SKIP MEALS
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.
MAKE EXERCISE PART OF THE CELEBRATION
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.