Yesterday I heard Dr. Phil say that the average American gains ten to twelve pounds during the holidays. (How I happened to be watching Dr. Phil on a beautiful day is a different story.) The point is, this statistic is totally false, and was probably dredged up to help sell his most recent diet book. The truth is that most adults gain just one to two pounds per year.
A pound or two a year isn’t very much, and it easy to see how it slips in without much notice. But if it happens every year, following you through your forties and fifties, you can easily find yourself ten or twenty pounds overweight. So, let’s think for a minute about how easy it is to gain that weight, and once you are aware of it, how easy it is to prevent it.
2 pounds is 32 ounces
32 ounces/year is 2.7 ounces/month or less than 1/10th of an ounce per day
That 1/10th ounce represents an extra 20 calories each day*. Twenty! It is such a small number, and it seems that with just a little thought, we ought to be able to avoid 20 calories. Yet, as I write this, I am reminded of the extra snacks that I ate last week. There was the sugar cookie I ate on Thursday. Someone at the office had baked them and left them in the coffee room, 80 calories. And, the (small) Danish I ate at a breakfast meeting on Wednesday, 240 calories. And, the little gift bag of chocolate-covered cranberries that I found on my desk on Monday, 150 calories. Holy Cow, no wonder I have a problem. I didn’t plan to eat any of these foods, and if they hadn’t magically appeared, I never would have. But here it is, the Holiday Season, with all of the fun, festivities and FOOD.
Clearly, I need a strategy. So here is what the more practical experts have to say on the subject. First, stock a good pantry. Make sure you have a good selection of healthful foods nearby. That means at home you keep the ingredients you need to lighten up recipes: fresh herbs, low-fat yogurt, nuts, citrus and other fruits. And at work, you keep snacks chosen in advance. (My special indulgence is a square of cayenne-infused dark chocolate.) Second, schedule your exercise time in advance. With so many demands on our attention during the holidays, it is easy to lose your personal time. Don’t let it go! Put exercise time in your calendar and stick to it. You might even schedule in an extra class or afternoon walk, knowing you are likely to take in a few extra bites of something, somewhere.
To get rid of the extra 450 calories that I ate last week, I need to get up from my desk and take a 5-mile walk. My dogs will be thrilled! Then I am off to the grocery store to stock up on everything I need to create a healthy family holiday.
Check out the recipe below for healthy, yummy morning glory muffins. Make a dozen, freeze the extras, and you will be prepared for the next morning rush. For more ideas and healthy recipes check out www.eatright.org, the website for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
By, Christine Sullivan, MS
20 calories is based on 3500 calories/pound of fat, and not all experts agree this is an accurate estimate, allowing for individual body type and metabolic rates