Tag Archives: Holidays

Thanksgiving Weight Gain – Fact or Fiction?

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

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It’s the start of the Holiday Season!  I love the holidays.  Food, fun and family.  It’s a great time of year for those things. It’s not a great time of year for most of us in terms of our health, however.  But, instead of focusing on the bad things, I want to fill you in on a health myth that surrounds Thanksgiving.  Hopefully I can put your mind at ease and you can enjoy your Thanksgiving just a little bit more.

Myth – I will gain 5 pounds from eating too much this weekend

This blog comes from something a patient said to me this morning about gaining weight this weekend.  I thought it would be a good topic to analyze and share with you all.

Weight gain is an interesting subject.  People are often very concerned about how much weight they gain over the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving to the New Year.  If you look at the statistics, most people are rightfully concerned.  The average American will gain 12 pounds over the holiday season!  That’s a lot to gain in just 6 weeks.

If the average American gains 12 pounds over 6 weeks then how could someone gain an entire 5 pounds over the course of this long weekend?  Is it possible?  If you ask many men and women across the country they will tell you it is.  I’ve had many patients tell me that they have weighed themselves before and after Thanksgiving and found they’ve easily gained 5 pounds in one weekend.  Fortunately, they are confusing what the scale says with actual weight gain.  Let me explain.

In order to gain 5 pounds of fat in just 4 days a person would have to consume an inordinate amount of food over that 4 day span.  One pound of fat contains 3,500 calories so five pounds of fat contains 17,500 calories.  You might be thinking, ‘I could eat 17,500 calories over this 4 day binge no problem.’  That may be the case but you have to remember that you will burn calories as well.  These calories are required for your heart to beat, for you to breathe, for your brain to function, etc.  The list could go on and on.  Essentially, given an average metabolism, you would have to consume an extra 17,500 calories over a 4 day period.  This does not apply if you are insulin resistant or have other hormonal problems.  Although it would still be difficult to gain 5 pounds in 4 days, keep that in mind.

Let’s put that into perspective –

The average person will burn about 2,000 calories in a day.  So over this 4 day holiday weekend a person would burn about 8,000 calories assuming no exercise is taking place.  That means to gain 5 pounds you would need to consume a total of 25,500 calories over the 4 day weekend.  That’s 6,375 calories per day!  That’s a lot of calories.

According to the American Council on Exercise, the average American will consume 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day.  That’s no where near the required 6,375 needed to jump start this 5 pound weight gain.  And remember, you’d need to consume 6,375 calories everyday over the weekend to gain 5 pounds.

‘So then why does my scale read 5 pounds heavier on Monday?’ I hear you saying.  This is likely from water retention.  Between the meal, the alcohol and the lack of physical movement water begins to accumulate in all areas of the body.  Water weighs a lot and this is reflected on the scale when you check it.  Basically, it is a physiologic impossibility to actually gain 5 pounds of fat in 4 days.  Remember, the scale is only measuring your weight, not fat.  Many factors will affect your weight.  Try not to confuse what you weigh with actual weight gain.  In this case one does not equal the other.  Phew!

Now, this is not to say that you will not gain any weight over the holiday weekend.  You might, but it can be avoided.  Stay active and make your worst day Thanksgiving.  Don’t continue it through Sunday.  If you return to healthy eating habits and exercise after Thursday there is no reason for weight gain over this weekend.  Keep that in mind and enjoy!

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How to limit your child’s Halloween candy consumption

Jack-o-latern

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It’s that time of year again.  Halloween!  I enjoy Halloween as much as the next person, but from a health standpoint this holiday is a nightmare!

Parents often say to me,”It’s just once a year. It won’t hurt them.”  While this is true, the candy that children accumulate during Halloween can last months.  I know when I was a child I used to come home with pillow cases full of candy.  Everything from Snickers to Smarties and everything in between!  Months of eating candy is not good for a child.

Today, I am going to give you some helpful hints on how you can control your child’s candy intake at Halloween.

First and foremost, remember that your child likes Halloween because they get to dress up and go from door to door in the neighborhood with their friends.  It really isn’t about the candy.  Yes, the candy is a bonus and they will enjoy the candy given the chance, but ask them whether they’d rather get candy or dress up and trick or treat? All of them will choose trick or treating over simply getting candy.

Secondly, be in control of the candy.  When your child returns from trick or treating they will want to dump out their candy and see what they got.  This is totally ok.  When they go to put it away ask them to select a couple of pieces that they’d like to keep in an easily accessible spot like the refrigerator.  All the other candy goes somewhere that is not easily accessible to them like on top of the refrigerator or a cabinet above the sink.  If they have an inordinately large amount of candy, throw small handfuls away from time to time.  It’s a little white lie, but it’s better than letting your children eat too much candy.  If you feel uncomfortable with this, tell your children the Candy Witch gets half of all kid’s candy at Halloween and ask them to donate it.  They usually don’t want to make the “Candy Witch” mad.

If you have children that are older you will have to be a little more upfront.  Try the honest approach and that you simply do not want them eating that much sugary candy.  Some teens are completely ok with this and won’t fight back.  If you suspect that will be a bit of a fight, tell them you need the candy for co-workers at work and ask them if you can have some of it.  If you want, bring it to work for others to share or throw it out.  Whatever floats your boat!

Thirdly, ration the candy.  If they want to have a piece from time to time, don’t be a miser.  The quickest way for them to build up excitement for the candy if for you to not allow them to have it. Let them have a piece after dinner at night.  Don’t let them snack on it mindlessly.  This just leads to belly aches and poor behavior.

Lastly, have fun with it!  A little candy here and there isn’t going to kill anyone.  Just don’t go overboard with it.  If you don’t make a big deal about it they won’t either.  If you already live a healthy lifestyle they are unlikely to be difficult with this process anyway.  Plus, they will likely lose interest in the candy after a few weeks.  Enjoy the trick or treating!

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