There are many joys to be had during the holiday season and plenty of ways to indulge our appetites. This could mean entertaining friends and relatives at home or dining out at one the many fabulous Treasure Valley restaurants. But whatever you do, it’s important to keep your waistline — and the dangers of overindulgence — in mind. Consider this: according to research from the Calorie Control Council, on Thanksgiving Day the average person consumes 4,500 calories, 3,000 of which are just in dinner. The other 1,500 calories comes from snacking and tastings throughout the day. This is an astounding amount of caloric consumption considering the daily metabolism of an adult is between 1,500 to 2,000 calories.

To help you keep calories under control during the holidays, here are a few helpful hints:

1. Get moving! Get out and go for a stroll on the greenbelt while the turkey is in the oven, have a quick game of flag football with all the relatives or turn on some music and have a dance party in your apron. Whatever you can do to get your blood pumping and move away from the food offerings will be helpful in balancing out the calorie-to-burn ratio.

2. Go easy on the appetizers. Cheese logs and hot spinach dip are loaded with hidden calories. Instead of eating these, snack on something light, like popcorn, and save your appetite for the full meal yet to come.

3. Use a smaller plate. Studies show this can reduce your calorie consumption by up to 22 percent. When hosting at home, use side plates or appetizer plates for guests. When eating out, this could mean an appetizer plus a side salad rather than a large entrée.

4. Slow down — and stay hydrated. It can take up to 20 minutes for your body to signal your brain that it’s full. When you eat too quickly, it can be easy to eat more than your body needs. For example, on average it takes a person 16 minutes to eat their Thanksgiving meal. By slowing down you can take time to enjoy the people and conversation around the table rather than just the food.

Drinking water can also help curtail the feeling of being hungry, especially in our arid Idaho climate. Sometimes your body signals hunger when it is really thirsty for some good old-fashioned H2O. A good measure for a person who weighs 150 pounds is 75 ounces of water, or three quart mason jars.

5. Watch out for calorie-dense foods. Green bean casseroles and cranberry sauces can hide extra sugars and fats. Prepare an extra green salad or relish tray when hosting at home.

When out on the town, it’s the adult beverages and cocktails that need to be consumed in moderation for the sake of calories. Alcohol is calorie-dense, and it’s not the kind of calories we want. One glass of red wine is 130 calories. One shot of vodka is 100 calories, not to mention the mixer. Instead, try sipping your beverage and enjoy just one or two.

6. Enjoy dessert. While it’s best to avoid unnecessary calories, it’s also important not to completely deny yourself the pleasures of dessert — just try to pick one favorite and limit yourself to a single serving.

Everything in moderation

A visit with your doctor can help you know which foods are good for you, which are okay in moderation and any you need to avoid completely. Knowing these things will help you decide when it’s time for seconds and when it’s time to throw in the towel … er, napkin.

Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy — and satisfying — holiday season!

About the author

Rebecca Vincen-Brown is the manager of the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club in Meridian.

A Certified Functional Aging Specialist, she also holds an ACE personal training certification. She is earning her master’s degree in athletic administration from Idaho State University, where she was an undergraduate and track and field athlete.

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