It’s pack on the pounds season! The National Institutes of Health estimates that the average person gains around one pound during the holidays. While that may sound like no big deal, it’s the cumulative effect that’s killing us—most Americans never lose that pound, and go on to add another one each year.
Want to do yourself a favor? Get a head start on those New Year’s resolutions by packing on fewer holiday calories this season.
Each of these adjustments to your holiday meals can save 100 (or more!) holiday calories and help you start out on January 1 with less indulgence to undo.
- Go for the white meat. A turkey drumstick is heavier in both fat and calories than a couple of slices of turkey breast.
- Watch the sauces. A little gravy is fine, but keep in mind that it is one of the most calorie-dense items on your plate at 60-70 calories per tablespoon. Use it sparingly.
- Think real veggies instead of casseroles. Instead of enjoying all of your holiday vegetables in a thick, creamy casserole, prepare and enjoy simple vegetables like steamed asparagus or green beans, as well. Strike a deal with yourself to only partake of one casserole side. If you really want the casseroles, try modifying your recipes by using low-fat soup, sour cream, etc.
- Pass on the pecan, say yes to the pumpkin. The traditional pecan pie is made with super-sweet corn syrup and lots of calories per bite. A small slice of pumpkin pie can satisfy your sweet tooth with fewer calories.
- Serve on plates, not hubcaps. If your holiday meal is served on large or buffet-style plates, there’s a natural urge to fill up all that space. Smaller plates help you keep portion sizes in check and trim calories as a result.
- Don’t count on Aunt Delilah. The matriarchs of your family have been using the same recipes for decades, and they’re probably not planning to modify things anytime soon. So if your celebration is covered-dish, take responsibility for bringing a couple of less indulgent dishes. There may be other covert calorie counters in your midst who will be eternally grateful.
- Strike a deal. If you have your heart set on a nice helping of Grandma’s 13-layer chocolate delight, by all means—have it. Just make an adjustment somewhere else to help offset it. Maybe skip the buttery yeast roll or the cranberry sauce.
- Put away the leftovers. If part of your holiday ritual is to have a big meal and then five smaller meals throughout the day as you visit and watch football, remove the temptation from your line of sight. Besides, getting those leftovers in the fridge promptly is a smarter practice for food safety.