The Prowler

“Weighting” for the holidays

Elizabeth Marchetti

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The months of November and December are filled with holidays, family gatherings, and most importantly food. With 45 million turkeys prepped and sold for Thanksgiving and 1.76 billion candy canes made annually, there is no shortage of holiday goodies stocked on grocery store shelves this time of year, says Zoe Bain at Delish magazine. But what exactly is in those Christmas cookies being stolen from Santa’s plate?
With holiday treats being the best kind to stress eat around the hectic holidays, it’s no surprise that one Christmas meal can be around three thousand calories, while the daily average is two thousand, according to Bain.
“The holidays are a stressful time that cause people who are overwhelmed to take comfort in food, not realizing the sheer amount they are actually eating,” Nicolette DeAngelis, R.D., L.D.N said.
Around this time of year, it’s not hard to find that comfort in a slice of pie or two helpings of mashed potatoes. But one thing most don’t realize during the holiday season is the high calorie count in the foods being eaten.
“I’ve never been someone that takes calorie counting very seriously,” junior Maegan Vaughan, varsity athlete said. “I’ve always been more focused on enjoying the food I like than worrying about how it might affect me.”
While enjoying oneself is an important aspect of the holidays, it can also be dangerous when the desserts come out. One slice of apple pie can be up to 300 calories and contain 20 grams of sugar, writes Laura Oliver at Livestrong magazine. And that’s without the scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
“Sugar has qualities that make it extremely addictive,” DeAngelis said. “Those addictive qualities can make foods high in sugar physically difficult to stop eating. This causes weight gain, the average holiday weight gain being one pound a year. Those who do gain that pound, don’t lose it, and those pounds add up over the years.”
The effects of holiday eating are more than just weight gain, and they last much longer than people would assume. The sugars that are in holiday foods such as pies and cookies can lead to a risk of heart disease, while food high in saturated fats such as mashed potatoes and eggnog result in clogged arteries and overall weight gain, said Julie Coliss, Executive Editor of the Harvard Heart Letter.
“I usually feel really sluggish and slow the day after I eat a lot of food, like Thanksgiving,” junior Christina Calderone said. “I never thought about the long-term effects that food could have on me, just that I was enjoying it in the moment.”
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to refrain from making regretful decisions when it comes to the foods being eaten around the holidays, and to stop unhealthy habits before they even begin.
“Never arrive to parties hungry. Appetizers are killer when it comes to over indulging,” DeAngelis said. “Bring a healthy appetizer, like vegetables and hummus, and always be a picky eater. Don’t eat foods that you can eat any other day, pick a special dish that you are excited for and stick to that.”
The holidays are about spending time with family and appreciating all of life’s offerings. The food is just an added bonus. Blissful sugar highs only last five minutes, while the effects of a second piece of pie last much longer.
“Focus more on the company than the food,” DeAngelis said. “Mindfulness is the key to surviving the holidays and coming out unscathed by unhealthy foods.”

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The student news site of Plainfield North High School
“Weighting” for the holidays