The Christmas season eating frenzy will soon culminate in a big way around the world.
Ready for a festive feast? The U.S. tops the list of countries with the most calorie-laden Christmas dinners: the traditional American Yuletide meal is 3,291 calories per person, according to data compiled by Treated.com, a British pharmacy.
But Americans shouldn't feel guilty about enjoying a Christmas feast: the U.K. (3,289 calories) and France (3,217 calories) were close behind. And many other countries were in the same range, with most serving dinners packed with 2,000-3,000 calories.
On the opposite side of the list, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Japan (where fried chicken is preferred on December 25) offered up the least calories — under 2,000 — during their traditional Christmas meals.
The U.S. calorie count is based on one person’s portion of a Christmas dinner that consists of winter vegetable soup, bread, roast turkey, roast ham, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, creamed spinach, roast cauliflower and butternut squash gratin.
It also includes chocolate fudge and gingerbread for dessert, plus mixed nuts, eggnog and a “Tom and Jerry” (a boozy eggnog-like winter cocktail).
The Christmas meal calorie count is a distant second to the other big holiday dinner of the year: Thanksgiving, which by some estimates can reach 3,000 to 4,500 calories for just one meal. But consider this — the Christmas meal comes after weeks of holiday snacking.
Your menu may not be exactly the same, but chances are you’ll also feast in a big way on Dec. 25.
“I’m not at all surprised by these high calorie counts,” Elisa Zied, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York and author of “Younger Next Week,” told TODAY. “No one can eat this much without feeling the effects.”
Effects like: fatigue, sluggishness, stomach pain and the too-stuffed-to-get-up feeling.
If it takes 2,000 calories to maintain your weight and when you eat 3,291 at just one meal, that’s an extra 1,291 calories to burn off. You’d need to walk 4.5 hours at a brisk pace, or run or swim laps for more than two hours to get rid of the excess, Zied noted.
So rather than thinking, “I want to enjoy myself, I’ll get back on track tomorrow,” eat the foods you like but in small portions, she recommended.
“You don’t need a huge plate or two of food to feel satisfied,” Zied noted.
Zied offered these tips to keep your eating under control:
Drink one to two cups of water before the meal.
It will help fill you up, plus hydrate your dry winter skin.
Plan indulgences ahead of time.
Don’t waste calories on items you don’t enjoy. If you taste something and don’t like it, don’t eat the rest just because it’s there.
Limit yourself to one plate of food.
And don’t stuff it to capacity. Fill half with veggies, one quarter with lean protein, and one quarter with starch — that helps you keep the meal balanced nutritionally.
Choose dessert wisely.
And keep the portion small. Perhaps choose something you only really enjoy at holiday time. Use a small plate or dish to serve yourself.
Bring mints, breath strips, mouthwash in your bag or pocket.
When you’ve had enough to eat, pop the mint in or rinse with the mouthwash to signal the end of the meal.