As the holiday season begins, temptations of delicious foods and treats become harder to resist. It’s Thanksgiving, after all, and no foods can hurt us on this day, or week, or month….right?
Actually, it’s common to gain weight during the holidays, but not as much and people may think.
It is often said that people will gain as much as five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. On Christmas Day in 1995, CNN reported that “the average American [will] gain seven to 10 pounds [3.2 to 4.5 kg] before the New Year.” Those reports have been well traveled on the grapevine, but there’s not much evidence to support the numbers.
In fact, the actual total gain is more like one pound, according to a 2000 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. But that one holiday pound can lead to more over the course of a year.
“The 0.18-kg average weight gain during the fall preholiday period and the 0.37-kg increase during the holiday season were largely maintained during the postholiday winter period from January to February or March, resulting in a net average weight gain of 0.48 kg,” said the researchers.
Regardless of how much, there will be weight gained during the season. But Dr. Keith Kantor, a leading nutritionist and author of The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice, has some tips to keep you healthy while still enjoying holiday treats:
- Cut down on saturated fat in creamy dressings by mixing in yogurt instead.
- For a wonderful flavor enhancer, sprinkle roasted vegetables with vinegar or citrus juice. Add it at the last minute so the flavor is at its strongest.
- Substitute chopped vegetables for some of the bread in your stuffing recipe, this will reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the stuffing therefore reducing the glycemic load.
- Don’t starve yourself the day of the party so you can fill up on food that evening. If you eat healthy normal meals throughout the day, you’re much less likely to overeat at the party.
- Remember: The point of holiday gatherings is to celebrate, not to eat. Mingle with friends and loved ones instead of hovering around the buffet table, grab a plate and walk away.
- Don’t load up at the buffet table. Keep portion sizes small by putting your snacks on a small plate instead of a large one and limiting your trips to the buffet.
- Prioritize your food choices, if you love sweet potato casserole take a serving of that but skip the stuffing if it is something that you don’t have to have.
- Present food in various locations all over your home to encourage activities and mingling not just eating.
- If you are going to drink alcohol alternate the beverages with water, this will keep you hydrated and may curb the increase in appetite from excessive alcohol.
- Make sure you include protein and vegetables as your appetizers and throughout the main meal. The protein from meat and fiber from the vegetables will keep you feeling full and avoid bingeing on excessive sugars and carbohydrates.
- When choosing cocktails, aim for non-calorie mixers like sparkling water with the juice or limes or lemons, rather than heavily sweetened juices or syrup based mixers.
- Remain active throughout the holidays, maintaining lean muscle mass from strength training and cardiovascular activity will help keep your metabolic rate (calories burned at rest) high to offset the extra calories from the holiday treats.