Truffles, mashed potatoes, cookies. Yes, it’s that time of year again: the holiday season, when every coffee table, office desk and sideboard becomes a caloric minefield just waiting to claim its next enfeebled victim. “Keep up with activity,” suggests Heather McColl, a registered dietician in Vancouver. But if you don’t have time to hit the gym (and who does, these days?), treat your holiday chores as workouts. Below we show you how to match your favourite treats with your seasonal activities, allowing you to eat like Santa and stay svelte like Scrooge.
*All stats based on 1 hour of activity by a 150 lb. person
Shortbread cookies Let’s start with one of the most popular Christmas staples: the shortbread cookie. Each buttery biscuit can run you up to 100 calories. Circumvent those extra calories by baking a batch: one hour in the kitchen burns up to 179 calories. Now you have a reason to have two.
Chocolates Uh-oh! Just ate all the tiny German chocolates in the kids’ Advent calendar? No worries, at least from a caloric stand point. You can burn off most of those 190 calories you consumed by Christmas shopping (164 calories/hour). Just don’t forget to replace what you ate or you might find yourself on someone’s naughty list.
Eggnog ‘Tis eggnog season again. That time of year when you can unwittingly consume 343 calories in one glass. Add a shot of spiced rum (75 calories) or brandy (64 calories) and you might be feeling as rotund as ole Saint Nick. Offset your treat by spending a couple of hours wrapping presents (107 calories/hour) and putting up the Christmas tree (157 calories/hour). Just make sure you set up the tree before you break into the Captain Morgan’s or you’ll end up with the yuletide equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Wine Hey Chardonnay Chica, did you know that the average 5.2 oz glass of white wine contains 120 calories? Ward off ‘muffin-top’ (when your love handles bulge over top your too-tight waistband) by turning on your charms. Sitting around the dinner table and conversing can burn 102 calories/hour, while standing and chatting use up 34 more. Dance on a table, or dance floor, for an hour and you’ll burn 321 calories, not to mention warding off that post-party hangover.
Latkes A little ole 2 oz. potato latke can weigh in at 200 calories-Oy vey! Add some apple sauce (12 calories, 0 grams of fat per ounce) or, even better, sour cream (26 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per tablespoon of the regular stuff) and you may be shvitzing in the kitchen. Which is exactly where you can work off those calories: volunteer for clean up and dish duty and you’ll burn 164 calories in hour, not to mention ingratiating yourself to your host.
Candy Coffee tables can be little isles of temptation this time o’ year, decked out in holiday sweets such as candy canes (60 calories each) and Lindt Truffle balls (78 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving). Want a quick fix? Spend an hour making out with your loved one and you’ll burn up 68 calories. So plant yourself under the mistletoe and apply your lipgloss.
Holiday dinner McColl estimates that the average Christmas dinner combining turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, pumpkin pie and wine can run from 2500-3000 calories. “Make sure that you include an activity after dinner,” says McColl. “It helps to get the whole family moving.” Spend an hour playing cards (107 calories), building a snowman (285 calories) or tobogganing (477 calories.) Or just volunteer to pull the chocolate-crazed kids up the hill on grandpa’s sled (circa 1960) and you’ll burn 545 calories/hour.
Leftovers With all these holiday goodies come leftovers. So does that sluggish feeling that comes from indulging and imbibing. Can’t get yourself off the couch after licking the pumpkin pie plate clean? Know that for every hour you laze about watching TV you’re using up 68 calories. Lie around until New Year’s and you’ll be fitting your party dress again in no time.