Ways to Cut Calories from Holiday Meals

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Americans, sadly have a tradition of over eating for holiday meals.  We starve ourselves all day in anticipation of that turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and of course how can we forget the pies.  Let’s not forget the drinks, and snacks while we are waiting for the meal and watching football.

Did you know that the average American consumes more than 4,500 calories and more than 220 grams of fat in a traditional holiday meal?  That is more than two times the average daily calorie intake three and a half times the amount of fat. To give you an idea of what that would look like, it would be like you eating three sticks of butter. *This information comes from caloriecontrol.org

The average adult male consumes between 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day, while the adult female consumes between 1,600 to 2,400 calories in an entire day. To loss weight, some people have to cut calorie intake to 1,200.

Give your holiday meals a makeover.   Identify where the calories are coming from, you can still enjoy the same dishes and reduce calories, simply by using lower calorie ingredients, smaller portion and low fat items in your meal.

The American Heart Association recommends you try these “low-fat holiday” tips:

  • Eat a lower-fat, low-carb and reduced calorie diet in the days before and after your holiday feast
  • Prepare for handling your worst temptations. Example: If you have to have 2 kinds of pie take a half serving of each instead of a full slice. You can always eat more the next day or day after. Portion control!
  • If you are the one cooking, provide low-fat/low-carb/low-calorie foods. If you are not cooking, ask if you can bring a dish that is low-fat/low-calorie.
  • After the meal start a new tradition – a holiday walk perhaps, or a bike ride.

Things to think about when you are preparing your feast:

  • Eat before your meal, we tend to “save” ourselves for the meal, and then we overindulge.
  • Oven roast your turkey rather than frying it. Yes, frying it taste better, but that is more calories, and fat that you don’t need.  Try brining your bird to bring out some more flavors.
  • Make simple changes to your recipes look for items that are lower in fat/calories. Most often your guest will not even notice the difference in the dish.
  • Stick to the half rule! Half your plate should be fruits and veggies.  The other half should be half protein and half carb. This holds true for all meals not just holiday meals.
  • Use a smaller plate. Smaller plates, hold less food, and it tricks your brain into believing you are eating more food.  Most of us have grown up with the rule that we have to clean our plates of everything that is served.  If you do that you are most likely overeating.  Listen to your body. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry not when you are full.
  • Skip alcohol, it contains a lot of empty calories and carbs. If you MUST indulge, opt for a light beer over a regular one.  Make your glass of wine a “spritzer” by adding equal parts club soda.  Choose straight hard liquor over mixed drinks which typically contain more sugar.  Of course, the best choice is simply water.  It will keep the hunger at bay and aid in weight loss.
  • Refrain from soda, and especially diet soda, we know that it is hard to resist that sweet, fizz, and that quick jolt that it can give you.  However it is not good for your waist or your over all health.  Remember the best choice is simply water, if you feel like you MUST have water try infusing it with lemon and mint, or cucumber.
  • Finally, when your guest go home send each of them home with a generous doggie bag of left overs. You will save yourself from “having” to eat them all week long. That will keep all those temptations away.
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