How not to gain weight over the holidays

With the holidays coming up, how can a person avoid gaining a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day?

Thanksgiving dinner table“You can’t gain 5 pounds in one day,” said Roberta Anding, lecturer in kinesiology at Rice University, a dietitian and sports nutritionist for Rice Athletics and the Houston Astros, and the performance dietitian for Baylor College of Medicine Corporate Programs. “It defies the law of calories in, calories out.”

Anding said the average Thanksgiving dinner alone is around 2,000 calories.

“I think it’s the leftovers that often get people,” said Anding, who has also worked as a sports dietitian for the Houston Texans and was director of sports nutrition at Texas Children’s Hospital for 16 years.

“If you just do the math … if that was your only day that you did that, in reality you can make adjustments for that, and you can compensate for that over the next week or two to keep yourself weight-neutral. And that to me is oftentimes the goal during the holidays.

“The American way is ‘more is better,’ and that’s what I thinks hurts people in the long run,” Anding said. “A day becomes a week, and that becomes more difficult to undo.”

This is “food season” — the time of year when tempting treats abound, so it can become very difficult to make it a singular event, she said.

“Enjoy the holiday and spending time with your family, eat what you want that day, but the next day go right back on your regular plan,” Anding said.


About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.