15 Holiday Dieting Tips
The holiday season in the United States, November through January 1st, is like an ocean cruise with an abundance of tempting foods and the tendency to overeat.
For some people gaining 5 or more pounds around the holidays is an annual event followed by the annual New Year’s resolution to lose the added weight plus a few more pounds.
Gaining Weight Is Easy, Losing Weight Is Difficult
Eating high calorie density foods makes it easy to eat a 3, 4 or 5,000 calorie meal in 30 minutes or less. If only 50 percent of a 5,000 calorie meal is excess calories (2,500) it takes 500 minutes (almost 8 and a half hours) of brisk walking or biking to burn those calories. A marathon runner burns about 2,500 calories in 26 miles. Most people are not marathon runners. If you live a mostly sedentary life, all excess calories are stored as fat.
To see how many calories you burn during physical activities click here.
The 5,000 Calorie Holiday Meal
For people requiring 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day or should be burning that many calories for a healthy weight, any meal providing 5,000 calories means automatic weight gain. You need a 5,000 calorie body to prevent gaining weigh.
The math is simple. Two to three thousand extra calories adds one-half to one pound of body fat. And that is from one meal. Add breakfast, lunch, and snack calories to huge holiday meals and you see where I am headed. By knowing where the calories come from and using the 15 holiday dieting tips that follow you can prevent the holiday bulge that plagues so many people.
Where Calories Come From
- Soda, regular – 13 calories per ounce (16 oz., 210 calories)
- Beer (5.4% alcohol) – 14 calories per ounce (12 oz., 165 calories)
- Wine, Red or White (10% alcohol) – 26 calories per ounce (5 oz., 130 calories)
- Sangria (7% alcohol) – 18 calories per ounce (5 oz., 90 calories)
- Corn Chips – 150 calories per ounce
- Salsa – 5 calories per tablespoon
- Vegetables – 4 calories per ounce
- Ranch Dressing Dip – 70 calories per tablespoon
- Potato chips – 160 calories per ounce
- Sour Cream Dip – 30 calories per tablespoon
- Biscuits, Buttermilk – 150 to 170 calories each
- Butter – 100 calories per tablespoon
- Candied Yams – 170 to 200 calories per 1/2 cup
- Cranberry Sauce, Jellied or Whole – 110 calories per 1/4 cup
- Dinner Rolls – 80 to 100 calories per roll
- Gravy – 12 to 20 calories per tablespoon
- Green Bean Casserole – 170 calories per cup
- Jams, preserves – 50 calories per tablespoon
- Ham – 50 calories per ounce
- Mashed Potatoes – 240 calories per cup
- Salad without dressing – 40 calories per cup
- Salad Dressing – 50 to 80 calories per tablespoon
- Stuffing, bread – 75 to 100 calories per cup
- Turkey, Breast without Skin – 155 calories per 4 oz. serving
- Vegetables with olive oil – 50 calories per cup
- Vinaigrette Dressings – 40 to 70 calories per tablespoon
- Ice cream – 140 to 170 calories per 1/2 cup
- Pumpkin Pie (1/8th of 9 inch pie) – 315 calories per slice
- Whipped cream, heavy – 15 to 20 calories per tablespoon
Sample Holiday Meal
- 8 oz. Turkey or Ham – 200 calories
- 2 cups mashed potatoes – 480
- 1/2 cup gravy for potatoes and meat – 120
- 1/2 cup candied yams – 200
- 1/4 cup cranberry sauce – 110
- 1 cup green bean casserole – 170
- 2 biscuits – 300 calories
- 1 tablespoon butter with biscuits – 100
- 1 slice pumpkin pie – 315
- Whipped cream – 50
- 1 glass of wine – 130
- Appetizers – 200
Total calories: 2,375
This assumes one portion of each item. Begin adding a second glass of wine or bottle of beer, slice of pie, or any item and the calories add up quickly. For anyone needing 2,400 calories per day, this is a meal that will go straight to your waist or hips unless it is your only meal of the day. That is rarely the case for Americans who are overweight or obese. Add breakfast, snack, and other foods and the daily total can reach 4,000 to 5,000 calories. Do this several times through the holiday season and you can see how easy it is to add 4, 5 or more pounds.
To avoid gaining weight during the holidays, here are a few tips.
Tips For Preventing Weight Gain
Limit alcohol consumption to 1 or 2 glasses, 10 ounces total or 260 calories. Better yet, drink low calorie coffee or tea.
Go easy or pass on high calorie Ranch and sour cream based dressings and dips. A pound of raw vegetables has about the same number of calories as 1 tablespoon of Ranch dressing.
Skip potato and corn chips. Two ounces have about 300 calories without dips. Appetizers can add 200 to 500 calories. To prevent weight gain, eat raw vegetables (see tip 2).
If you can’t resist the appetizers or begin to feel hungry before dinner is served, eat raw vegetables and salsa. Eight ounces of vegetables with 1/4 cup of salsa has about 100 calories.
Limit ham and turkey to 4 to six ounces of lean meat. White meat (breast) has fewer calories than dark meat. Turkey breast has about 25 percent less calories than ham. When eating ham, trim of visible fat it is mostly saturated fat.
Do easy on the stuffing. If it is bread based skip the biscuits. In general, stuffing has up to 70 percent less calories than biscuits with butter or jam.
Pass on the biscuits (see tip 6) and butter. One large biscuits with butter or jam has 200 or more calories. Two biscuits adds 400 calories. Substitute dinner rolls for biscuits. Dinner rolls are made without butter and milk and have about 50 percent less calories than an equivalent weight biscuit without butter or jam.
Load your plate with unadulterated vegetables. Green beans with olive oil has about 55 calories per 4.5 ounce serving (1 cup). That’s a 115 calorie savings compared to green bean cassrole.
Go easy on the potatoes, masked and candied yams, and fill your plate instead with lower calorie fresh vegetables especially green and left green vegetables that are high in fiber and other healthy nutriants.
Cranberry sauce, canned or homemade, is loaded with sugar and calories. Pass on the cranberry sauce or enjoy a small portion. Calories are based on 1/4 cup (2 tbsps). Save 55 calories by limiting portion size to 2 tablespoons.
Salad greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes are very lower calorie and fat free, The calories are in the dressing. A vinaigrette will coat more than a Ranch or other thick dressing. If you enjoy salads with thick dressings have the dressing on the side and limit it to 2 tablespoons.
Eat slowly giving yourself at least 20 minutes before helping yourself to a second portion. After 20 minutes you may not feel like loading your plate up a second time.
Limit dessert size or enjoy dessert the next morning for breakfast. Desserts easily add 400 or more calories per serving!
Plan ahead and enjoy your holiday meal by limiting breakfast, lunch, and snack calories.
If small plates are available use them. Research shows people eating off smaller plates eat fewer calories and there is less temptation to lad up your plate.
In the end it comes down to portion control. A 1,200 calorie meal is still large if your body needs about 2,000 calories per day. But place it in perspective to your overall diet and you can avoid holiday weight gain this year and every year.
Is it possible to enjoy a complete holiday meal and not gain weight?
The answer is a definite yes when you understand where calories com from. Dieters think, or have been thought, that losing weight requires restricting your diet. The key to successfully losing weigh and keeping it off is healthy eating. Yes, it is portion control. But it isn’t mini child-size meals.
Here is my 2014 Thanksgiving dinner.
This meal has 22 ounces (625 g) of food providing 880 calories. That is about the same number of calories in a 12 ounce 1/3 pound fast food hamburger. Nutrition values for this meal are:
- 880 calories
- 222 calories from fat
- 8 g saturated fat
- 255 mg cholesterol
- 750 mg sodium
- 93 g carbohydrates
- 7 g fiber
- 26 g sugar
- 45 g protein
Omitting a salad saved about 200 calories leaving the option for dessert. With dessert and a small glass of wine, this meal was about 1,500 calories. I ate only two meals Thanksgiving Day,breakfast and dinner, and did not feel hungry.