The University Record, November 15, 1999

Moderation in feasting key to preventing holiday season weight gain

By Jill Siegelbaum
News and Information Services

Thanksgiving Day featuring family visits and lots of good food is fast approaching, historically heralding not just the winter holidays, but also a season of weight gain.

The average person gains five pounds during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, says Marilyn Nakamoto, dietician and director of the University Health Service Nutrition Center.

“Many of the foods we eat at Thanksgiving have a high fat content,” Nakamoto says. “The skin of the turkey, the stuffing, the candied sweet potatoes—all of these are very high in fat.”

So how can we avoid Turkey Day weight gain?

“By making wise food choices,” Nakamoto says.

Cooking the stuffing outside of the turkey reduces its fat content, as does baking sweet potatoes instead of loading them with butter, sugar and marshmallows in a casserole. Pumpkin, an excellent source of beta-carotene and Vitamin A, is much healthier served as a custard than in a fat-laden pie crust.

“We have to be realistic, however,” Nakamoto notes. “For one holiday meal, people should be allowed to eat their favorite foods.”

So if you can’t do without Aunt Martha’s candied yams, indulge yourself—but wisely.

“Eat small amounts of your favorites, and don’t eat until you’re stuffed—only until you’re satisfied.” And keep up your exercise program.

“Many people stop going to the gym when they get busy around the holidays, but that’s just when you should be going,” Nakamoto says. “Exercise keeps weight down, suppresses the appetite and relieves holiday stress.”