GREENSBORO, NC, Dec. 14, 2018 – Between holiday get-togethers and office parties, cookie exchanges and dashing through the mall to buy gifts with little time to eat a healthful meal, it is no wonder that the average person gains one to three pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day, according to the Calorie Control Council. Additionally, a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who were already overweight gained an average of five pounds during the holiday season. Unfortunately, these holiday pounds tend to stick around longer than grandma’s fruitcake, with most people failing to lose the weight. Talk about an unreturnable ‘gift.’
It is easy to understand how this can happen. One pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories. To gain one pound, theoretically, you have to be taking in more calories than you burn off through normal metabolism and exercise. As little as 500 extra calories a day can add up to a one pound weight gain in just a week. Then there is the traditional holiday dinner plate piled high with turkey and all the trimmings that clocks in at 3,000 calories, plus add another 1,500 calories for the hors d'oeuvres and cocktails consumed before the big meal.
So as not to put a humbug on your festivities, here are some easy tips from Meghan Flynn, MS, RDN, The Fresh Market’s registered dietitian and director of communications, to help you enjoy the holiday season in a healthful way:
Curate Your Plate: Scrutinize the buffet, and only take a tasting portion of the dishes that tempt you most, versus tackling the whole feast. This way you can fill a small plate with a few bites of the most indulgent dishes, and don’t feel deprived that you missed out on something. Round out your plate with healthier side dishes, like roasted asparagus.
Stick to Your Budget: Just as you have a budget in mind when you go holiday shopping, the same can be said for eating around the holidays. Treat your diet like a bank account. If you invest in something decadent, balance that with something healthy. You can invest in a cookie, a piece of cake or holiday candy (just not all at once!), and then ‘deposit’ into your diet some healthier fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein options. Earn interest in your account by adding some extra cardio or strength training during the holiday eating season.
Good Things Come in Small Packages: Just like the little blue box that may hold something sparkly, think “small” when it comes to holiday eating: Order the small size, use small plates, take smaller portions. If you are dining out, order an appetizer portion or only eat half of what is on the plate, and ask for the rest to take home.
Make a (Snack) List and Check it Twice: Don’t let decking the halls turn into wrecking your diet. If you find yourself suddenly starving while out holiday shopping, bypass the food court and make sure you have on hand healthy snacks, such as nuts, fresh fruit, or a protein bar. Having a healthy snack before you attend a holiday party also helps fill you up, reducing the risk of overindulging on less nutritious options.
Limit Your Cup of Good Cheer: Liquid calories count and can add up quickly, so take a taste of the eggnog, but not a whole cup. Keep in mind that a serving of wine or Champagne is 4 to 5 ounces, but a typical wine glass holds at least 8 ounces. A ‘pour’ should come to a little under half the glass, so if your hostess has a heavy hand, make a mental note that this is automatically two servings. A serving of beer or wine ranges from 110 – 150 calories, so imbibing in more than a drink or two at your holiday soiree can sabotage your healthy eating strategy.
If after the holidays you find your pants a big snugger, take heart. The Fresh Market has some lighter soup and salad offerings in the deli department to help you get back on track in the new year!