Traditional Holiday Foods Provide Comfort, Calories

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shutterstock_334602908 Holiday dinner via Shutterstock

Most of us have memories of getting together with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, and a big part of those memories involve the foods we ate. Whether it's turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, ham at Easter, or latkes for Hanukkah, those foods represent continuity and comfort. Unfortunately, they usually also represent lots of yummy calories!

Unfortunately, the holidays are an important period for weight gain sometimes the most likely time that people do gain. But on average, the gain isn't that large only about one pound during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Unless you're overweight or obese to begin with then it's more like five pounds. And since the holiday gain isn't usually lost over the rest of the year, it can account for the gradual, typical gain with age.

So where do all the excess calories come from? Some of our favorite, traditional holiday foods are the culprits. Here's the lowdown on just a few:

  • Roast turkey leg (8.6 oz): 417 calories
  • Pecan pie 1/8 of an 8-inch pie: 532 calories
  • Bread pudding (3.4 oz): 380 calories
  • Potato latkes (3 oz): 319 calories
  • Egg nogg (1 cup): 344 calories

And while it's possible to work off the extra calories, it can take more effort than you might think. For example, for the foods listed above, the time it would take just walking to use up those calories would be:

  • 1 hr 56 min
  • 2 hr 28 min
  • 1 hr 45 min
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 1 hr 35 min

Kind of depressing, isn't it? However, some strategic eating might help limit the damage. For example, portion control is a big part of calorie control. Taking smaller helpings and not going back for seconds will help. Filling up on raw veggies can help temper those hunger pangs. And selecting lower calorie choices (for example choosing white meat instead of dark) is always a good move.

Whichever strategy one employs, it's important to enjoy the get-together, and deal with the excess calories in a rational and effective way. Happy Holidays!