Did you know that the average American consumes approximately 4,500 calories and 229 grams fat from eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? And that doesn’t include breakfast, lunch, or late-night snacking on leftovers! Yikes! That is more than your daily caloric intake!
Studies show that the average American gains 3 to 4 pounds during the holiday season. And, those extra pounds tend to become permanent baggage. Year after year, those pounds can add up, and contribute to overweight or obesity later in life.
Although we may not all gain weight over the holidays, there is no question we tend to eat and drink more — and exercise less.
Reducing the amount of fat and calories in your snacking and main holiday meals can help prevent the average weight a person will gain over the holidays (from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day).
Try these Healthy Holiday Eating Tips from the American Heart Association:
- Track your food intake over the holidays to see how many calories, fats, sugars, etc., you are actually consuming, and to avoid those extra calories!
- Prepare for handling your worst temptations; if you want both pecan and pumpkin pie, take a tiny slice of each, instead of an average serving.
- If cooking, provide low-fat foods, or ask if you can bring a low-fat dish.
- Be sure to get in your normal, healthy meals and snacks prior (if hungry, of course) so come Thanksgiving Dinner time you aren’t famished, which can lead to overeating.
- Avoid grazing — which I call mindless eating that leads to overeating! Make sure you are paying attention when you are eating!
- Before or after the meal, start a tradition — a holiday walk or Turkey Trot, for instance, or be sure to get your regular exercise routine in prior to your gathering.
A Thanksgiving Meal Breakdown: Cut Out Extra, Unwanted Calories in Your Thanksgiving Meal by Following These Nutrition Tips:
- Turkey: Stick to about 3 ounces of white meat and no skin. That’s about the size of your credit card or a deck of cards and about an inch and a half thick.
- Gravy or cranberry sauce: One-third of a cup is the recommended serving amount for each. Be aware of the sodium content in gravy.
- Mashed potatoes: One cup of mashed potatoes contains around 210 calories, so if you stick to the recommended amount of half of a cup, you can slash the caloric intake to 105! If possible, choose red potatoes which are more nutrient dense.
- Green beans: Instead of making green bean casserole, serve them stir-fried or grilled with a little olive oil and garlic. Since green bean casserole tends to be made with canned soup and fried onions, there is a lot of sodium.
- Sweet potato casserole: Simply make the sweet potato casserole as you would but try to eliminate any extra cream, butter, or marshmallows.
- Dinner roll: Stick with one, or skip it altogether!
- Butter (2 tsp): Replace the butter in your meal with margarine instead to reduce the amount of saturated and trans-fat in the meal.
- Pecan pie (1 slice): Pecan pie comes in at a whopping 503 calories and 27 grams of fat. Swap it out for a slice of the healthier pumpkin pie or apple pie.
- Low-fat vanilla ice cream or cool whip: Instead of topping your desserts with full-fat ice cream this holiday season, substitute lower fat or reduced-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt, or Greek yogurt.
- Red wine (5 oz): Alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram itself, which makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about 4 calories per gram) and only just under the caloric value for fat (9 calories per gram). This means that if you are watching your weight this holiday season you will want to stick to the lighter or lower-calorie drinks. Your best bets? Lighter spirits such as vodka, wine, light beers or tonics.
In the end, it really comes down to portion control and moderation. These Thanksgiving tips hold true for Christmas Dinners as well. In addition to watching your serving sizes and types of food items, be sure to continue or start with a regular exercise routine, even through the holidays.
Take hold of your health over the holidays and focus on consuming less and moving more… your body will thank you!
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/
Mayo Clinic on Thanksgiving Dinner http://mayoclinc.org