WASHINGTON - Mashed potatoes, egg nog and pecan pie are all staples of the typical holiday meal. But indulging in all of your favorite holiday foods can add up to 500 extra calories a day between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
Just those five weeks of overeating can lead to a five pound weight gain, says Chelsey Smardo, a clinical dietician at National Rehab Hospital in D.C.
"And that weight that's gained in that five weeks does not typically come off during the year," she says.
Rather than abstaining entirely or starving yourself leading up to the holiday meal, Smardo says have a snack and eat smart.
She recommends surveying the table when you arrive and fill up half your plate with fresh veggies. Also, remember that beverages have a lot of empty calories
"That glass of wine could have an extra 100 calories in just four ounces," she says.
Egg nog can pack an extra 400 calories, even before you add the alcohol.
Smardo says there are smart ways to lighten up the holiday meal, without losing flavor.
"Try a crustless pumpkin pie. The crust is what has the most calories and fat," she says.
"You could try flavoring your mashed potatoes with skim milk and black pepper and parmesan cheese and garlic. Cut out that fat from the milk and the butter."
And, don't forget the holidays shouldn't be a time to take a break from your exercise.
"A person that weighs about 160 pounds can burn about 250 calories just from walking," she says.
WTOP's Debra Feinstein contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.
(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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