Be aware of calories this holiday season

By Brittney Brown
Nov. 22, 2016 at midnight

Brittney Brown

Brittney Brown   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Did you know the average American gains anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds during the holiday season?

Well, in case you were wondering, this is true.

Some studies show the pounds gained to be a little less, but for the average American, some weight gain happens.

The holiday season is a two- to four-month period surrounding Christmas in which we enjoy Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day and then St. Patrick's day. What do all of these holidays have in common? Food.

Yummy, delicious, decadent, specialty foods. One of the best things about the holidays is enjoying all of the holiday foods, but it can also be bad for our waistlines, because of the excess of calories over a prolonged period.

During the holidays, remember every bite counts. So leaving a little on your plate once you are full isn't a bad idea.

Weight loss during the holidays is very hard, so it's important to strive for weight maintenance. Gaining even 5 pounds during the holidays can add up over the years. So let's take a look at where that holiday weight gain could come from.

Remember, 3,500 calories equals 1 pound of fat. The average holiday dinner is 3,000 calories, and we eat 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks before the big meal.

Here are a couple common holiday foods and their calorie content:

Thanksgiving and Christmas

Turkey: 4 ounces = 160 calories; with gravy = 260 calories; 6 ounces dark meat = 350 calories

Sweet potato: 1 medium = 110 calories; candied = 305 calories

Mashed potatoes: 1 cup = 210 calories

Biscuits: 1 = 250 calories

½ cup stuffing = 200 calories

Pumpkin pie = 320 calories per slice

Pecan pie = 500 calories per slice (1/8)

½ cup green bean casserole = 142 calories

½ cup old-fashioned eggnog = 200 calories

New Year's dinner

4 ounces of honey glazed ham = 150 calories

½ cup of black-eyed peas = 70 calories

½ cup of greens = 55 calories

As we can see the calories do not come from one specific food or group. The holidays are just a calorie rich time. A couple ways to decrease the amount of total calories eaten are to:

Snack on raw veggies before meals instead of high-calorie dips and appetizers

Prioritize favorites

Use a plate (and make it a small one)

Beware of leftovers

Get in your exercise (do the dishes, play with the kids outside, help clean)

Brittney Brown is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a licensed dietitians with Detar Healthcare System.


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