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Misjudging caloric expenditure and intake: A guide to holiday nutrition


Honest Decisions for the Holidays                              

Ah, the holidays bring out the best in everyone. I’ve found that it definitely brings out honesty…

When I ask my clients, “how has your nutrition been?” even the most mindful make me aware that they are indulging. Can you blame them, the holiday parties, baked goods, and comfort food rolls around once a year. Might as well take advantage. You can always just work harder during your exercise sessions to burn more calories to account for the treats, right?

Well, before you dig your fork in for second helpings it’s important to know that despite the higher calorie burn reading on the treadmill it may not be enough to stave off unwanted holiday pounds.

Studies show that those who work out to lose weight often take in excess calories, because they feel as though they are: 1. Burning more than they are and 2. Misjudging the calories they are consuming.

Scenario: The holiday party in calories

1. The Booze

- 12 oz Budweiser Beer= 145
- 12 oz Bud Light= 110
- 5 oz dry white wine= 110
- 5 oz red wine=114
- 2.5 oz of Bailey’s Irish Crème= 170
- 2.5 oz Amaretto= 266
- Apple Cider Cocktail=130

2. The Appetizers

- 1/8 cheese ball=100
- 1 serving of Ritz crackers= 80
- 1 meatball in marinara=59
- ¼ cup mixed salted nuts: 290
- 1 tbsp ranch dip with vegetables=140

3. Entrée

- 4 oz turkey dark meat= 170
- 4 oz turkey white meat=120
- 4 oz baked ham= 166
- 1 cup of mashed potatoes=237
- ¾ cup of green bean casserole=212
- ½ cup sweet potato soufflé=250

4. Dessert

- 1 chocolate chip cookie=78
- 1 sugar cookie=66
- Slice of apple pie=397
- Slice of pumpkin pie=220
- Handful of m&m’s (10 pieces)=34
- Lindt milk chocolate truffle=79
- Egg nog= 393
- Hot chocolate with 2 large marshmallows=140

Let's look at the numbers when it comes to common forms of exercise and see what it looks like on the dinner plate.
*All data is an average for a healthy 155 lb person. 60 minutes of activity.

Practicing portion control

Stationary bike=493 calories
Food Exchange: 4 oz turkey (white meat), ½ cup sweet potato soufflé, 1 chocolate chip cookie= 448
Deficit: 45 calories

The full course meal, but definitely no second helpings

Running 6mph=704 calories
Food Exchange: 12 oz Budweiser Beer, 4 meatballs in marinara as an appetizer, 4 oz turkey dark meat, ½ cup mashed potatoes, 10 m&m’s=704 calories
Deficit: 0

Done before dinner

Circuit Training=593 calories
Food Exchange: 2.5 oz Amaretto, ¼ cup mixed nuts, ½ sugar cookie=589
Deficit: 4 calories

It’s easy to misjudge caloric expenditure and intake. Even when it seems like you are on the right track holiday dishes can throw you for a loop. Don’t be discouraged! I wouldn’t leave you surrounded by temptation without a plan.

10 Tips for Success:

1. Eat healthy small meals throughout the day. Limit sugar, sodas, and unwanted calories in sauces, heavy creams, and marinades.
2. Drink plenty of water, especially when consuming alcohol
3. Try eating a healthy snack before going out to parties. It will help you deny temptation.
4. Spend less time socializing around the appetizers and dessert trays. It’s easy to graze and nibble when it’s right in front of you
5. Practice portion control at holiday parties. You can indulge and have a small portion of your favorite dishes, but be sure to keep it to one serving. Choose 1-2 items as your cheat items. It doesn’t count if everything on the table is your “favorite.”
6. Try your best to get adequate sleep and keep stress low since it can bring on cravings and affect appetite
7. Exercise, exercise, exercise! Try to receive physical activity in some form or another for at least 30 minutes each day.
8. Challenge yourself! If you’re putting in the time you might as well make it worthwhile. Base your intensity on a scale of 1-10. Try to work at a level 6-7, but remember that your level of intensity is set for you and may be different for your workout buddy.
9. Try incorporating short intervals into your workout like speed bursts or add resistance to burn more calories
10. Keep in mind that any additional holiday weight put on is added to the weight management or weight loss goal when the New Year rolls around. It will be more work in the long run.

This holiday season stay honest to your fitness goals and what you set out to do. Try to stave off unwanted holiday pounds by practicing the basics 90% (okay maybe sliding down the scale to 85% for holidays) most of the time and allowing yourself some wiggle room 10-15% of the time. Remember, you can always fit-it-fitness, even during the holidays.

Happy and healthy holiday wishes to all.

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