Christmas - A global calorie feast

In just a few days, the Christmas table will be covered again with all sorts of amazing dishes and in a short time thousands of kilocalories will be consumed. Even while people feast across the world, there are clear differences in the eating habits of individual countries. In many cases this raises the question of how many kilocalories people actually consume during the holidays and how they can survive without a higher weight gain.

The Christmas holidays are coming, and the time of joy will begin. The festive atmosphere, the get-togethers with family and friends and a richly laid table invite you to extensive dining, leaving all thoughts of calories at the door.

But already in the run-up to Christmas innumerable dangers for the figure await us in the form of many treats and Christmas snacks. In many countries, these dangers culminate to an amazing hooray between December 24 and 25. Undoubtedly, most people exceed the recommended daily energy intake on those days. However, they are often unaware of the true extent.

Dr. Osborne, of the online portal, treated.com compared the energy content of traditional Christmas menus in countries around the world and concluded that the Christmas meal contains between 1900 kcal and 3300 kcal. In most cases, this single meal covers the average daily requirement of about 2000 kcal to 2500 kcal. However, there were big differences between the individual countries. The front runners are the USA, Great Britain and France. Dominated by meat and fish variations, accompanied by bread, potatoes, wintry vegetable dishes and rich sauces, the Christmas dinner in these countries weighted in with approximately 3200 kcal to 3300 kcal. To work off this amount of energy, it takes an average person of 70 kg about ten hours of walking.

Compared to these opulent meals, the twelve courses served on December 24 in Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania seem almost like a diet menu.

According to the religious tradition, meat and dairy products are largely abstained from during that day. Instead, mainly fish and vegetable dishes are served. In addition, no alcohol is consumed, otherwise and only in modest amounts. Despite its many courses, their Christmas dinner is one of the healthiest and lowest in calories in the world and amounts to only about 1900 kcal.

The calorie excess is not limited to Christmas Eve. Studies from the US and the UK have shown that a person consumes on average between 6000 and 7000 kcal during the course of December 25. Even on the following days, the calorie intake is well above the norm.

The feasting usually does not remain without consequences. After the holidays; already the first step onto the scales reveals a few extra kilos. Studies indicate that adults gain weight during the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year. On average, the weight gain over time is moderate and is between half and one kilogram. Body weight alone is limited in its informative value. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma concluded that their subjects' body weight remained largely stable during the holiday season, while their body fat percentage increased measurably.

It is not necessary to count every single calorie over the holidays. Even a slight increase in weight is initially unproblematic, if the weight then returns to its original starting point. On the other hand, if the weight does not bounce back, the weight might cumulate, and we might become overweight and obese over the years. However, even small measures can prevent or limit weight gain. These include, above all, regular exercise during the holidays and a moderate consumption of alcohol and highly sugary and fatty foods. In addition, daily weight checks contribute to an effective weight control and can prevent nasty surprises after the holidays.

Image 1 © “Gregory Lee” / Adobe Stock

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