How to Burn Off 12 Holiday Foods
Health.com gives us these inventive (and fun!) ways to work off that glazed ham.
The average adult gains 1 to 2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but think about it: if you pack on 2 pounds annually on fattening holiday foods, then you’ll be up 10 pounds by year five.
This year, prepare for 6 weeks of temptation by familiarizing yourself with just how much activity you’d need to burn off your favorite foods. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people were less likely to buy a 20-ounce bottle of soda when they learned that they’d have to run for 50 minutes to burn it off. Note: calorie counts for these dishes vary widely by recipe, and exercise calculations are based on a 150-pound person.
Nothing says Christmas dinner quite like a juicy glazed ham. Lucky for you, a serving of the traditional dish only sets you back 120 calories. A 3-ounce slice also supplies 16 grams of protein, which will help fill you up (and with any luck eat less off the dessert table). Just be sure to choose a low-sodium piece of pork.
Calories: 120 calories per 3-ounce slice
Burn it off: Go hiking for 15 minutes
A giant turkey leg supplies a day’s worth of fat (54 grams) and enough calories for two large meals. Why not have a serving of turkey breast instead, and pair it with just a small portion of the dark meat? You’ll save over 800 calories.
Calories: 1,135 per leg
Burn it off: Run a Turkey Trot 5K race—and then run it three more times
Mashed potatoes with gravy
A typical mashed potato recipe features cream, salt, and lots of butter. You know what that means: calories and unhealthy fats. Cut the calorie count of your recipe in half by skipping the gravy altogether, limiting the butter to 1 tablespoon per potato, using naturally creamy Yukon Gold potatoes, and swapping in reduced-fat milk for the cream.
Calories: 230 per 3/4 cup
Burn it off: Do jumping jacks for 23 minutes
Green bean casserole
Take a can of green beans, a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, some fried onions, and what do you get? A total sodium bomb. Sure, it’ll only cost you 120 calories, but canned foods are notoriously high in salt. One tiny scoop contains 550 milligrams, or about a quarter of what you’re supposed to consume in an entire day.
Calories: 120 per scoop
Burn it off: Volunteer at a soup kitchen for 27 minutes
Sweet potato casserole
Oh, sweet potatoes. The sweet spud packs 438% of your daily value of vitamin A and 37% of your vitamin C, and they’re also a good source of calcium, potassium, iron, and fiber. Too bad mixing them with scoops of brown sugar and topping them with marshmallows pretty much cancels out those benefits.
Calories: About 250 per scoop
Burn it off: Downhill ski for 35 minutes
Don’t let the relatively low calorie count fool you: bread stuffing is still a dieter’s disaster. This type of stuffing is no more than seasoned white bread cut into small hunks and soaked with melted butter. This year, try making your own stuffing. Some healthier (and even more delicious) options: Corn Bread Stuffing With Cranberries, Couscous-and-Spinach Stuffing, Cornbread, Sausage, and Herb Stuffing.
Calories: 150 per 1/2 cup
Burn it off: Run for 15 minutes
Cranberry sauce (canned)
Though canned cranberry sauce doesn’t rack up as many calories as many of the other dishes on this list, you’d be better off making one of our delicious and healthy cranberry recipes instead. Why? Many cranberry jellies are made with high fructose corn syrup, which some studies show contributes to obesity more than regular sugar. (Besides, do you really want to eat something in the shape of a can?)
Calories: 110 per 1/4 cup
Burn it off: Go sledding for 15 minutes
With potassium, iron, and no added sugar, apple cider is a relatively smart sipper. Try this recipe for Spiced Apple Cider, which is spiked with your choice of Calvados or applejack.
Calories: 100 per cup plain; 173 per cup spiced
Burn it off: Do 15 minutes of body weight exercises in your living room
If losing weight is one of your new year’s resolutions, then you’ll want to cut back on booze. But go ahead and ring in the new year with a champagne toast. You’ll easily burn off the bubbly when you get back on the dance floor.
Calories: 90 per 4-ounce glass
Burn it off: Hit the dance floor for 18 minutes
Be sure your gingerbread recipe contains real ginger. In addition to adding flavor to your cookies, the multitasking spice also soothes achy muscles and improves blood flow and circulation.
Calories: 158 per cookie
Burn it off: Go holiday shopping for 1 hour
The main ingredient in apple pie is, of course, apples. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the sweet treat is a nutritious food. One slice contains 14 grams of fat, with 5 grams of saturated fat. Still, it’s one of the safer bets on the holiday dessert table.
Calories: 296 per slice
Burn it off: Build a snowman for 53 minutes
A candy cane is one holiday sweet we can endorse. Sure, they’re made from sugar and…not much else, but at 60 calories, having one (just one) won’t wreck your diet. It also takes a while to eat one, which will make you more satisfied in the end.
Burn it off: BWalk up and down stairs for 7 minutes