Watch what you eat over the holidays

It's holiday time again! Time to reward yourself for another year of hard work at the office, and if you're smart, at the gym, in the pool or like me, on your bike. Too many of us let down their guard, throw caution to the wind and totally pig out on Christmas and New Years, not to mention the days in between. 

Here's a fun fact: On Christmas day, the average American eats more than 7,000 calories. You read right. 7,000. Calories. An adult male should be eating no more than 2,000. Dwell on that one for a moment. 

How might this break down? Below is a scenario of one person’s consumption on a typical Christmas day, from an article on ABC News:

Starting with a hearty, all-American holiday family breakfast consisting of two pancakes with butter, syrup and sausage links, our subject kicks the day off with a total of 600 calories. Oh, and don’t forget that tasty glass of orange juice – that's an extra 110 calories.

And because it is a seasonal treat, our subject might also knock back a few sips of eggnog at a whopping 394 calories per serving, bringing the breakfast total up to 1,110 calories. That's just breakfast.

 Is that you?

Is that you?

While most people will skip lunch in favor of an early dinner, we’ll typically spend the day mindlessly noshing. If you nibble on a few cookies and sneak another glass of eggnog, that’s an additional 775 calories.

Just before dinner, it’s time for appetizers. Many of us will consume several handfuls of chips and nuts, some crudité with dip, and a couple of appetizers totaling – get ready – 1,190 calories.

Christmas dinner is often a feast that includes turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, veggies, salad, rolls, butter and gravy. It usually includes several glass of wine or beer, bringing the dinner’s calorie count to 1,730.

The calories continue to pile on with dessert. And who eats just one dessert? Assuming two servings of sweets plus another small glass of eggnog, that’s an additional 1,158 calories.

And if you get the munchies later on Christmas night, you might put together a sandwich with some trimmings from the leftovers, tacking on an additional 600 calories. And we didn't add in the calories from booze.

Ready to explode yet?

We wish you a Merry Christmas and good health this holiday season. But before diving into the mashed potatoes and gravy head-first, stop. Think about how you'll get through the day. Could you consider lighter alternative recipes instead of the high-fat traditional fare? Instead of mindlessly stuffing yourself, try stopping mid-way through your meal and taking a 20-minute break. Doing so will let your tummy tell your brain that it's quite full, thank you. 

Instead of noshing mindlessly, have a plan. Think about what you should eat, and look for things like carrots and celery (minus the calorie-laden dip). Get one plate and don't go back. If there's a big dessert, limit yourself to a small piece and share it. 

And take time today to go outside and exercise. A brisk walk or a run is a smart idea. If you're near the mountains, it's great day for skiing or skating. As for me, I'm about to hit the road on my bike for a Southern California training ride. So don't just sit there. Get up and moving. Then you can justify all the food that will be tempting you today. 

Stay healthy, my friends.

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