It's not the meals on the day of the actual holiday that lead to the average 5 pound holiday weight gain (though at an average plate of 3,000 calories you can gain nearly a pound during those meals). It's over indulging on a regular basis, on foods most people would not otherwise consume regularly. Holiday treats top the list as the most consumed empty calories during the holiday months. From baked goods to candy, most people are bombarded with tempations. And it only takes an excess of 500 calories per day to gain a pound of fat per week. With the abundance of food, this is easy to do. The worst treats are:
Pumpkin bread. The average slice of pumpkin bread has around 300 calories. If you were to eat this as your breakfast, you'd be ok calorie-wise even though your meal would be a high sugar substitute for real food. And you're likely to be hungrier later. Most people eat this in addition to their meal however.
Pecan pie. Possibly the worst pie out there, the average slice carries almost 600 calories.
Festive sugar cookies with frosting. While fun to bake, nice to look at and delicious to eat, these little holiday favorites carry 200 calories each. And who ever eats just one?
Fruit cake. There's nothing healthy about this cake, even if it does have fruit in the title. Loaded with sugar, a slice of this treat will set you back almost 300 calories.
Miniature candy. They're small, so they can't do too much damage right? The problem with miniature candy is you are tempted to eat more of it and most people end up eating more than they would if they sat down with a regular sized candy bar. Dipping into the Hershey Kiss bowl? Just 9 of these little candies is over 200 calories. Hershey miniatures carry around 50 calories a piece, and those add up quickly.
Red velvet cake. Anything red equals holiday cheer, but a slice of this cake will add about 500 calories to your daily calorie count.
And here's the typical scenario: If you indulge in just 3 of these treats a week, for the span of the holiday season, you're looking at around a 2 pound weight gain in fat from desserts alone. The problem is between leftovers, send homes and sugary gifts, the average person consumes one treat per day, that they otherwise wouldn't. Now you're looking at around a 5 pound weight gain this season.
How to avoid it?
If you're going to indulge, make sure you account for the calories in your overall calorie needs for the day. Don't eat an additional 500 calories - take it from somewhere else in your diet. Not necessarily the healthiest of options, especially if you're cutting out vital nutrients, but it'll keep you from gaining pounds.
Throw away any leftover baked goods or candy. As with any other time of year, don't leave it sitting around your house. If you keep the treats to special occassions, such as parties, you'll eat a lot less of them.
Keep healthier options on hand. If your office is a sugar disaster this time of year, keep healthy snacks on hand to fend off hunger which can lead to poor decisions. Keep healthy snacks in your purse while you're shopping to avoid impulse sugar binges.
Add additional workouts. Add a few more 30 minute workouts to your week to burn off the excess calories you consume. Or make your current workouts longer.
Remember, calories in, calories out.