Holiday weight gain: Not a myth

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As the holidays approach, people are hitting the malls. They’re shopping for presents and packing their bags for warmer destinations. But something else they’re packing are the pounds.

Registered Dietitian Cindy Gates says the holiday weight gain has already began.

"Holiday weight gain is real,” Gates says. “And it actually started clear back in October because of the holiday candy."

This trend isn’t just true for the United States, but studies show that Germany and Japan are also finding that they put on weight during the Christmas-New Year holiday. Gates says people’s weight tends to peak around the beginning of January.

“The highest weight actually is 10 days after Christmas,” she says. “Because we continue to eat all the leftovers after Christmas.”

Americans on average gain 1.3 pounds during the holiday season, sometimes consuming over a day's worth of calories in a matter of hours.

"On Thanksgiving Day, we can consume 4,500 calories, which is actually twice the amount that we need for the whole day,” Gates says. “And we consume that usually in one big meal, plus all the desserts afterwards."

Before having to turn down grandma’s cooking, experts say portion size is key to avoiding holiday pounds. Gates says you can eat all the food you want in smaller portions.   

"If we just have a smaller portion of all our favorite food, then all foods can fit,” she says. “But if you’re really trying hard to avoid your sugar, maybe have a chat with grandma before that holiday actually comes and tell her that you’re actually trying to watch your sugar intake and fat intake."

And if that doesn’t work, Gates says you can always cook your own healthy food.

Read other Wellness Wednesday stories here.

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