TheBUZZ : Americans can’t survive the holidays without putting on a few pounds?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Health takes the back burner during the holiday season for many Americans.
WHAT WE KNOW
It’s that time of the year again…parties, sweets, families, friends, endless hours of shopping and let’s not forget all the extra calories! Why is it that the time between Thanksgiving and New Years becomes an eating frenzy for so many? The American Dietetic Association reports that on average, Americans gain approximately 1-2 lbs (and some reports estimate 5 lbs!) during the holiday season.
You may think 1-2 lbs doesn’t sound like something to worry about. But just keep in mind that 1 lb is equal to 3,500 calories, which takes approximately six hours on the treadmill to burn off! Also, if these few pounds keep accumulating over the years, they can lead to significant weight gain, which can increase your risk for many health problems.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories (most Americans require 2,000 calories per day) from snacking and eating a traditional holiday dinner (these calculations do not include breakfast, lunch, or late night snacking). The council also estimates that a typical holiday meal may contain the fat equivalents to three sticks of butter!
The Nutrition Journal assessed weight gain in 94 college students after the Thanksgiving holiday and found that overall, there was a significant increase (1.1 lb average) in weight.¹ On average, Americans gain between 1-2 lbs during the holidays with some reports estimating up to 5 lbs—especially in individuals who are already considered overweight or obese!
The Nutrition Review found that weight gain during the 6-week holiday season attributed to 51% of the annual weight gain. These results suggest that holiday weight gain may be a significant contributor to obesity.²
Each holiday season you can count on lots of delicious food—enjoy it! Just don’t overindulge every day for the 6-week holiday span! Maintaining a healthy weight is a simple banking system—make sure the calories you are consuming do not exceed the calories you are expending!
Here are some tips to help keep you on track …
- Grab a healthy snack before attending a gathering.
- Start with a salad and a full glass of water—this will help you feel fuller for longer and prevent overeating.
- Observe your food choices first. Choose the healthiest options (look for fruits & veggies), with one or two small portions of treats.
- Wait a few minutes after your first helping to let you food digest—this will avoid feeling "stuffed."
- Bring your favorite healthy holiday entrée or snack to a gathering.
- Go food shopping if staying with relatives or friends for an extended period of time to ensure healthy options are available.
- Use a smaller plate—this helps with portion sizes.
- Don’t drink all your calories.
- Encourage activities at gatherings like playing catch, going for a walk, or playing an active game.
Make this holiday happy and healthy by focusing on fruits & veggies!
¹ Hull, H, R, D Radley, M Dinger, D Fields. "The Effect of the Thanksgiving Holiday on Weight Gain." Nutrition Journal (2006): 5: 29.
² Robers, S. B., J. Mayer. "Holiday Weight Gain: Fact of Fiction?" Nutrition Review (2000): 58(12): 378-9.