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Grayson Menard, M.D., Tennova Healthcare

THE HOLIDAY SEASON BRINGS SURPRISING CALORIE COUNTSRecent studies have debunked the myth that the average American gains 7-10 pounds during the holiday season, but don’t break out the eggnog just yet. Those same studies confirm that holiday weight gain DOES happen to most people – the average Increase is between 1.5 and 2 pounds, and the scale creep actually starts in October. Perhaps more important is the fact that the average person fails to take this weight back off after the holidays are over. That means ‘holiday weight’ alone could add 20 pounds to your body during your 40’s.

The tradition of holiday weight gain has several contributing factors, including increased social events, Halloween leftovers, and lack of time for cooking, meal planning and exercising. However, the biggest obstacle is likely very simple: these foods are LOADED with calories!

“It can be difficult during the holidays to watch our calorie intake due to a variety of factors,” says Dr. Grayson Menard, General and Bariatric Surgeon at Tennova Regional Jackson. “It is important to pay attention to the nutritional information on food labels; however, during the holidays that becomes difficult. Portion sizes can also contribute to over eating; using a smaller plate can help.

Keep in mind that 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. The average Thanksgiving dinner rings in at 3,000 calories, with an additional 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks before the big meal. Below is a chart of nutrition facts for some of the most common holiday foods. (See Above Chart)

• Snack on raw veggies dipped in vinaigrette or a handful of nuts as an appetizer.
• Prioritize one or two favorite indulgences, and avoid the others.
• Use a plate (and make it a small one).
• Beware of leftovers – say “no thanks” to take-home stuffing, pie and potatoes.
• Get in your exercise – play outside with the kids, rake leaves, take long walks.

As a rule, try to arm yourself with as much nutrition knowledge as possible and have a plan before you start your day, especially at this time of year. Can’t pass up that second glass of eggnog at your cousin’s buffet dinner? Go for it. But, maybe skip the buttermilk biscuits…

About Tennova Healthcare
One of the state’s largest health networks, Tennova Healthcare includes 16 hospitals and more than 115 physician clinics. The combined network has approximately 2,600 licensed beds, 2,800 physicians on the combined active medical staffs, and 9,000 employees, with more than 70,000 admissions and 465,000 emergency department visits each year. Learn more at

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