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 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 feeling deprived:
- 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 345 calories.
- 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, 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 crave 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.
- If 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.
Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine
"Healthy Holiday Meals"
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