With the holidays upon us how do we eat, drink and be healthy? From tiny sausages awash in barbecue sauce to cookies and egg nog, how can we enjoy the festivities without coming out of the season 10 pounds heavier?

With the holidays upon us how do we eat, drink and be healthy? From tiny sausages awash in barbecue sauce to cookies and egg nog, how can we enjoy the festivities without coming out of the season 10 pounds heavier?

First, a little quiz: True or false?

1. The average Cosmopolitan cocktail has 100 calories.

2. The average American gains 5 pounds during the holiday season.

3. The average brandy egg nog has over 400 calories.

The lights, the sounds of drinks in blenders, the smells of food on the table, all signs the holidays are here! Are we powerless against these forces? Of course not. With a little planning, we can get through this holiday with our dignity and waistlines intact.

A prevailing view is that the average American gains 5-10 pounds during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This however, is not the case. The average American actually gains about 1 pound during this season. Those who are overweight or obese tend to gain more but fewer than 10 percent gain more than 5 pounds.

One pound of excess weight in fat is equivalent to roughly 3,500 stored calories. With the average Thanksgiving Day dinner between 2,000-3,000 calories, this could mean a one-half to one pound weight gain. This weight has a tendency to stay like an unwelcome relative. Over the course of a few years the excess weight can become a problem.   

We typically gain 0.4 to 1.8 pounds each year during our adult lives and we don’t lose it. There is no time like the holidays to reverse this trend. Oh, come on, you can do it! A sustainable weight loss strategy is to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Decreasing daily calorie intake by 500 calories for seven days will lead to about a 1 pound weight loss.  Cut down portion size, move away from the buffet table, eat more slowly and leisurely and a 500 calorie decrease is achievable. Skip the second cosmopolitan or egg nog. No thanks to the third truffle.

The average cosmopolitan has about 140 calories. A daiquiri can have more than 2,200 calories, seven ounces of brandy egg nog contains about 420 calories, and we haven’t even started on the cookies!

Some nutritionists recommend drinking a glass of water and eating a nutritious snack before going to a holiday party. This may make seconds or thirds less tempting.

If you work out regularly, continue, even if you have to modify your training to accommodate the hectic holiday schedule. If you are not exercising, make a plan to walk, even just 10 minutes, every day. Write it on the calendar. It will make a difference.

George and Laura Bush begin their new year with a walk at daybreak. Nice.

Don’t wait until Jan. 2 to launch into a healthful eating lifestyle. With a little planning and restraint, this may be your healthiest holiday ever. To your health! Cheers!


Answer 1.F  2. F  3. T