When you think about the cost of a holiday meal, you probably imagine a grocery receipt. But that’s not the only price you pay for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner – you also charge your body an average of 1,360 calories. And that’s not counting dessert!
With a little planning, though, you can lighten the weight of the holidays.
If you’re cooking for a small crowd, serve a turkey breast with no skin. It has about 60 fewer calories per every 3.5-ounce portion than dark meat. It also cooks in less time than a whole bird.
Keep chestnuts on hand. They have less fat and about half the calories of regular nuts. Use them in stuffing, salads and as snacks.
Season strategically. Flavors such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg capture the essence of the season without adding many calories. Replace salt with savory basil, garlic, rosemary, sage, terragon, thyme or turmeric in casseroles, stuffings and dressings.
For appetizers, think fresh. Boiled shrimp with lemon or cocktail sauce is a smarter pick than fried hors d’oeuvres. Other helpful starters include stuffed mushrooms, sliced low-fat cheese and raw vegetables with hummus.
Avoid a deadly dinner. A study of heart-attack patients suggested that eating an unusually large meal packed with carbohydrates, fat and salt quadrupled the chance of having a heart attack within the next two hours.
Relearn buffet eating. If you were eating at a restaurant, you wouldn’t order one of everything on the menu. The same should hold true in a buffet-style meal. Scan the table and make your choices before loading everything onto your plate.
Skip the whip. Whipped cream can add 100 calories or more when used as a drink or dessert topper. Try going without it, or opting for a nonfat version.
Just say no! Peer pressure never gets easier to handle, but if you’re being urged by a host to keep eating once you’re full politely refuse with a firm statement like: “no thank you, I’ve had enough. Everything was delicious.”
Sip tea. You can cut about 3,500 calories – about the amount it takes to gain a pound – by choosing tea over soda throughout the holidays. Even more if you drink it without sugar or milk.