Well, it’s that time of year again … holiday season is upon us. With holidays, we see food, and snacks, and parties, and snacks, and food, and some more get togethers that have food. How can we watch our weight and still enjoy?
I am also like so many of us, BMI near 30 (sometimes over), and a foodie, which isn’t the best combination in a land of plenty. Over the years I have developed some general rules that I apply for my holiday seasons and hope they may be of some use to you.
First, let’s get some bearings. Without getting into the weeds, weight for most people is calories in and calories out. If in is more than out, we gain weight, out more than in, we lose. WebMD has a useful chart that provides a general guideline for our caloric needs by sex, age and activity: . I am 52 and try to get in some exercise almost daily, so according to this chart, I need about 2,200-2,400 calories a day. That’s a pretty good number, and is satisfactory most days.
But here come the holidays, add the emotions, the traditions and the general stress of the season, and that number starts to grow. According to , the average Thanksgiving meal, with snacks and drinks, can exceed 4,500 calories. Add in a breakfast and a halftime snack around 9 p.m., and it is quite possible to be well over 5,000 to 5,500 calories.
Quick rule of thumb: 1 pound is roughly comparable to 3,500 calories.
If I approach Thanksgiving without a plan, I will add nearly a pound to my body weight, in one day! But that’s ok, it’s just once a year…
Even in the physically distanced world we now live in, how many parties will you attend, restaurant meals will you consume, office/work parties etc.? Don’t forget Christmas dinner and New Year’s Day. How about the person in your office who makes wonderful cakes and breads and cookies and brings them in every week?
Here is what I try to do: healthy breakfast focused on fruits and veggies. Get in some form of exercise in the morning. Every mile you walk or jog accounts for 100 to 120 calories. During pre-meal festivities, keep the snacks healthy; veggie trays are perfect (just watch the dips).
At mealtime, watch your portions, eat slowly, and don’t immediately refill your plate when it’s empty. Sit back, drink a glass of water, and wait 5 to 10 minutes. You may realize you are full.
Take a family walk about an hour after dinner; dogs will need it too!
Adapt these to other holiday events and at least on the 2nd of January you won’t be scared of the scale.
-DR. JOHN WOLTZ
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