Smart Indulgences for Christmas
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
The Christmas meal isn't normally a time for strict
adherence to a weight loss diet. The traditional feast is arguably the heaviest, most indulgent
meal we'll be eating all year. The "typical" meal of turkey, dressing, rolls,
candied sweet potatoes, and pie with whipped cream contains a whopping 2,200
calories or more, and that's more calories than an average-sized woman with a
sedentary lifestyle burns in a typical day.
If you're concerned about your weight, you can try to
make some smart choices and substitutions to curb the caloric excess without
sacrificing the satisfaction of the Christmas feast (and yes, you can still
have dessert). Here are some examples of smart Christmas food choices that won't leave you
- Choose white meat. A
6-ounce portion (about the size of a deck of cards) of white meat turkey
without skin has
230 calories, while a mixed portion of white and dark meat with skin has about
- Limit rolls and butter. An average roll has 80-85 calories. Add
butter, and you're eating 120 calories instead.
- Eat steamed rather than buttered vegetables. Buttered vegetables have about twice as many calories per cup as
steamed vegetables. Even cutting back on the amount of butter you use on
vegetables can be significant. Remember that every tablespoon of butter
adds about 100 calories to a dish. Lemon juice or low-fat salad dressings are
alternative ways to top vegetables if you're craving a sauce.
- Avoid eggnog. A cup of
eggnog at 340 calories is a calorically dense aperitif. Try a glass of white
wine or champagne (about 160 calories) instead, or have a juice and mineral
water spritzer and "save" your calorie consumption
for the main meal.
you're having appetizers, offer vegetables with low-fat dip instead of cheeses
and crackers. With the rich meal to follow, you won't feel deprived.
- If you're preparing the stuffing, omit some of the fat. A rich, buttery stuffing with
sausage can top out at 500 calories per cup. Suggestions for fat reduction
include omitting sausage or meats and replacing some of the butter or oil with
low-fat products. A cup of low-fat stuffing contains only 125 calories.
- Finally, enjoy that pumpkin pie. A piece of pumpkin pie has about 175 calories, while a
comparable slice of pecan pie has 495 calories.
For more, please visit the Nutrition and Weight
Previous contributing editor: Dennis Lee, MDLast Editorial Review: 12/13/2011