North Texas Daily

Avoid holiday hedonism for your health

Avoid holiday hedonism for your health

November 27
22:52 2012

Last week, many Americans got together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. While they were sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner and counting their blessings, it might have been better if they were counting the calories.

Dietitians estimate that Americans consume anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 calories during Thanksgiving dinner. This is about what an average person consumes in two days. A 2006 study of college students on Thanksgiving by Nutrition Journal found that the average student gained 1 pound during the holiday.

While the holidays are a time for celebration, parties and family feasting, it does not have to be in excess and does not have to come at the expense of your waistline. During the holidays, simple steps can be taken to help keep the weight off while not swearing off the holiday food.

In an article on its website, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said that most people fail to lose weight over the holidays because they set too high of goals during the season. Instead of adding stress by focusing on weight loss, the group suggests that people focus on maintaining their current weight instead.

This can be done by continuing regular exercise during the season. An added benefit is that exercise can reduce stress that tends to accompany the holidays.

Experts also warn that it is crucial to not skip meals before a holiday party. Instead, they suggest that you eat a small, healthy snack beforehand to avoid the temptation to overeat.

While celebrating at holiday parties it is important to keep a balanced diet. Instead of fully cutting off the heavier meats, balance them with vegetables and other healthy options.

Alternatively, you could focus on healthy holiday standards. Even with the high calorie consumption of Thanksgiving, turkey is lean meat and a healthy choice when consumed without the skin.

Experts also warn that people forget about what they drink while they are watching what they eat. Alcohol, holiday punches and hot chocolate are all high in calories and should be taken into account when you are counting calories. Alcohol can also lessen inhibitions, leading to overeating.

Lastly, many holiday favorites can be made with healthy recipes or by trimming fat. For example, gravy can be made healthier by refrigerating it and skimming off the fat. Using skim milk instead of whole milk in recipes is another way to trim the calories.

All is not lost for those who want to keep the weight off during the holidays. The key to it is to set simple goals and use healthy alternatives. With simple strategies and diligence, you can avoid resembling Santa Claus by the time January arrives.

Michael Hutchins is a journalism senior. He can be reached at

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