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Holiday Weight Gain: Myth or Fact?

A 5 pound weight gain is inevitable during the holiday season…MYTH! Actually, according to the National Institute of Health,, the average American gains just under 1 pound during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's the good news. The bad news is that most of us never lose that 1 pound and if we are in the overweight category we are more likely to gain 5 or more pounds during the holiday season. What causes this weight gain you might ask? Is it the never ending parade of "goodies" brought by your well intentioned co-workers? Or the lack of sleep brought on by too many late night parties or time spent putting the "some assembly required" gifts together? All of those can be a factor but perhaps the biggest culprit is the tendency for us to avoid the gym when we need it the most! Our hectic holiday schedule can wreak havoc on the most well intentioned exerciser. So, what's a person to do?

" Top 10 Ways to Avoid Putting on the Holiday Pounds"

10. Drink plenty of water-it will fill you up and keep you hydrated and energized.

9. Eat smaller meals on days you will attend holiday gatherings.

8. Send leftovers home with your guests –Better yet, avoid leftovers altogether by preparing only what your guests will eat at one sitting.

7. Eat breakfast everyday—maintain energy levels and avoid temptation by keeping your metabolism revved up.

6. Eat smaller meals on the day of the party—avoid the urge to overeat at the buffet table when you arrive at the party ravenous.

5. Try to cut 100 calories from each festive meal—skip the bread, skip the butter, only choose a small serving of the higher calorie selections.

4. Be conscious of the "Oh well.." trap—do not overeat because you already had a cookie at work or because you are going on a "diet" after the holidays so you might as well eat it all now.

3. Be careful of your alcohol consumption-even 1 drink can lower your resistance to tempting foods.

2. Find the time to exercise—don't skip your workout and if you can, add 15 minutes on those days when you know you will be indulging in holiday goodies.

1. Give yourself a break—have a cookie—but don't have 12!

Here are some helpful hints when baking for the holidays:

  • Reduce fat by
  • For every 1 Tablespoon of solid fat use ¾ Tablespoon liquid oil
  • Replace ½ the fat in a recipe with unsweetened applesauce or prune puree or plain lowfat yogurt
  • Reduce sugar by:
  • Reduce sugar by ¼ -1/3
  • Use a heat stable sugar substitute
  • Increase whole grain:
  • Replace 1/3 of the flour in a recipe with a whole grain flour
  • Replace salt with herbs or spices


Altering Recipes, North Central Regional Extension Publication 473, July 1997

Adjusting Recipes to meet dietary Guidelines, University of Nebraska Extension, EC 442, 2006.