Little Nibbles Can Add Extra Pounds Over the Holidays

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Hot Cocoa and sugar cookies.

We all enjoy being with family and friends over the holiday season, food is a large part of our traditions. Sharing meals and snacks together is great fun and brings us together. Everyone loves to try new recipes plus we look forward to the old family favorites as well. However all those extra goodies can lead to unwanted weight gain. It is easy to gain 5 or more pounds over the holidays due to an increase in calories from those extra little nibbles. If we consume an extra 500 calories per day we can gain 1 pound per week. You may say that there is no way I could eat that many extra calories per day but it is easier than you think. Here are some examples of just how easy it is to add extra calories just by sampling little bites of this and that.

These are some typical snacks that we might graze on throughout the day during the holidays. 

Decorated Sugar Cookie- 1 small             130 calories

Fudge (tiny piece)                                            70 calories

2 teaspoons. Spice coffee creamer                 30 calories

½ cup Eggnog                                      70 calories

1 tablespoon ice cream                        56 calories

4 chips with 1 tablespoon dip               90 calories

Tiny piece of pecan pie                         57 calories

The grand total for a day like this adds an extra 503 calories from those small nibbles and you didn’t really eat much of anything. The list can go on to include a small piece of toffee 67 calories; 1 large tablespoon of leftover sweet potato casserole 60 calories; or one chocolate covered cherry 60 calories. Think about how many times you eat what your kids left on their plate. That ¼ of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, 5 fries and 3 sips of soda can add up to 160 extra calories that you had not planned on eating. Nibbling can be the habit that is the most detrimental to any diet plan.

If you are struggling with this try keeping a food diary for a while. The main thing is to be mindful of what you eat. The best way to make changes is to record what you eat to see where you need to make improvements. There are many free online web-sites that allow you to keep up with your food intake. The other way to eat a little extra from time to time without gaining unwanted pounds is to increase the amount of physical activity you get each day. It helps to get in aerobic activity because that burns a lot of calories. If you are not ready for that type of brisk activity, moderate walking has so many benefits and is a great place to start moving more. Simple little things like increasing the amount of walking add up to great benefits for your overall health. Taking the stairs, walking to the mailbox, moving while you are talking on the phone. Play, it’s fun and these little activities all burn extra calories. If it has been awhile since you were on a regular physical activity routine check with your doctor and make sure you are ready to take it on. 

 Shocking how those little nibbles add up, it is all a matter of balance. Bottom line is we all have a certain amount of calories that is just right for us to maintain a healthy weight. The amount of calories we need depends on our age, gender, and level of physical activity. On a positive note; by cutting back just 100 calories from your recommended calorie allowance per day can lead to a weight loss of 10 pounds per year. If you love to nibble and graze throughout the day, cut back on the portions you eat at mealtime.

Here is a great reduced calorie recipe you might want to make during the holidays.

 Low-fat, reduced sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake.

1 – 8 oz. package of yogurt cream cheese or reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

 ½ cup sugar or sugar substitute (follow sweetener conversion if using sugar substitute product)

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1 container regular whipped topping (the low-fat does not work well here)

In a bowl using a mixer blend together cream cheese, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar substitute. When the mixture is very creamy stir in sour cream and whipped topping. Pour in a graham cracker crust and let firm up in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Each 1/8 of a pie has around 255 calories, if you want to cut even more calories don’t make it in a crust and serve it like pudding, 1/8 of the recipe has around 145 calories. Regular cheesecake can have up to 600 calories per slice. 

For more tips and ways to improve your diet and lifestyle, save money at the grocery store and learn to prepare great low-cost nutritious meals for your family, contact Rhonda Church, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Associate (EFNEP), at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Ashe Center at 336-856-5850.

Written By

Rhonda Church, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionRhonda ChurchEFNEP Educator, Extension Program Associate Call Rhonda Email Rhonda N.C. Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center
Posted on Nov 7, 2023
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