MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
From savory ham to grandma’s scrumptious sugar cookies, the holidays are filled with an abundance of decadent foods. It’s the time of year where going back for seconds − or thirds − is a ritual and packing on a few pounds for the sake of holidays is accepted by many.
“There’s this thought process that I’m just going to throw in the towel over the holidays and forget about it − I’ll worry about my weight in the New Year,” said Lauren King, registered dietician for Semper Fit Health Promotions at Marine Corps Base Quantico.
However, King said gorging without discretion can be a slippery slope, as most don’t realize how unhealthy holiday meals can be.
“The average holiday meal contains thousands of calories,” King said.
That pecan pie may taste delicious but a single slice contains around 500 calories. Egg nog is another seasonal favorite that’s packed with fat and sugar; one cup has more than 20 grams of fat and around 343 calories.
King said you don’t have to give up your favorite seasonal foods, but keep in mind the rule of moderation.
“Really the key is portion sizes -- still allowing yourself to have the foods you love but not overindulging,” King said. “Have a Christmas cookie or two; not the entire dozen.”
She suggests filling up half the plate with fruits and vegetables, and a quarter with protein and starches. Also, before piling on a second heaping, King recommends holding back for a several minutes.
“Wait 30 minutes to see if you want seconds, because it takes that long for the stomach to tell the brain that you’re full,” King said. “A lot of us are done with meals within 15 minutes and, of course, if we don’t know yet that we’re full, we get up again.”
Continuing to eat after you’re full is how those pounds can quickly add up, she added.
Bridget Akerley, personal trainer at the Barber Physical Activity Center said those pounds can be a daunting task to lose.
“You have to expend around 3,500 calories to burn just one pound of fat,” Akerley said.
To put it that in perspective: The American Council on Exercise reported that one would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk 30 miles just to burn off 3,000 calories.
For those who say, the holidays aren’t about dieting, Akerley agrees to an extent but says no one should completely avoid restraint.
“The holidays are steeped in food traditions and it’s nice to break away, but you also have to be educated and keep [moderation] in mind,” Akerley said.
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