Expert: Avoid the Wrong Kind of Splurging During the Holidays
If you're one of countless Americans who worry that a little splurging over the holidays will blow your diet, relax. There is a right way and a wrong way to splurge, according to one expert.
So long as it's confined only to a handful of meals – Thanksgiving, Christmas and maybe an office dinner – you'll be okay.
Studies have shown that Americans gain an average three to seven pounds during the holidays, but it's not because of that lavish Christmas or Thanksgiving meal. It's because people chose to splurge all the way through the six-week holiday season, according to Dr. Robert Keith, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System nutritionist and Auburn University professor of nutrition and food science.
“I tell people to go ahead and enjoy that Thanksgiving or Christmas meal,” Keith said. “Eat the food, enjoy it and don't worry about gaining weight on the basis of only one or two larger meals during the season.”
The problem is beyond that, he said. On top of the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner are the lavish holiday parties strung in between these two traditional meals as well as the food and beverages consumed up to New Year's Day.
“We enter this six-week holiday season looking forward to all the parties with friends, family and coworkers and all the cakes, cookies and beverages that go with them,” Keith said.
These, rather than the two traditional meals, are where the problems occur – the reason Keith stresses why it's so important during the holiday season to track calories. He recommends avoiding heavy breakfasts and lunches if you're planning on a big meal later that evening.
The important thing is to remain conscious of what's going on and to do a little dietary and weight correcting when needed. It would also be ideal to start a walking program too. It can be as simple as walking around the block or around the neighborhood at least three times a week.
As long as you're following this general rule of thumb, you can enjoy those extravagant Thanksgiving and Christmas meals without the guilt.