Santa is so fat because he eats a billion cookies at Christmas and drinks a million glasses of milk, which are high in fat and sugar. He also eats them all in one night, so they don’t have time to digest. The result is that his stomach just gets really big, ho ho ho!
Santa Claus is a well known and loved character, but we have to question whether he is a healthy role model.
Santa Claus long ago displaced the Virgin Mary and baby as the most unmistakable Christmas icon. A recent study amongst hospital in-patients concluded that awareness of Santa is almost universal. Given Santa’s fame, he has considerable potential to influence individual and societal behaviour, and not necessarily always for the good. Santa is a late adopter of evidence based behaviour change and continues to sport a rotund sedentary image. This is not the only example of how Santa’s behaviour and public image are at odds with contemporary accepted public health messages.
Why hasn’t society been able to eliminate obesity? Obesity continues to exist as a result of several factors. Two major causes include the overconsumption of food and excessive consumption of sugars. Overloading the body’s energy needs with excessive energy intake will result in fat deposition. It is also possible to overload the body’s needs by eating too much at one meal. It’s not enough to simply ensure that you do not overeat in the grand scheme of things. The body’s capacity to process nutrients at any one time is also limited. It cannot infinitely process and utilise nutrients if a massive surge is suddenly presented through excessive dietary intake. It makes sense that the body can handle a bowl of pasta each hour, but not ten bowls. This undermines the total notion that “three square meals a day” is a “healthy” practice. In reality, consuming smaller meals, spaced out evenly throughout the day, ensures that your metabolic rate is constantly elevated as the body is processing nutrients at a constant rate. This, amongst many other causes such as caloric deficit, lack of, or not eating enough essential fatty acids and too much cardio are major contributory factors to obesity not being eliminated. The numerous and diverse causes of obesity are a subject for another issue to follow in the new year. I will show you something that will hit you right between the eyes, that will set your mind racing, something that is relatively rare in this age of mercantilism, marketing hype and flying egos. I will disclose cold, uncompromising, objective, data based science!
To create a supportive environment for Santa’s dieting we should cease the tradition of leaving cookies, mince pies, milk, brandy, or sherry for Santa. This practice is not only bad for Santa’s waistline, but for parental obesity. When Santa is full, Dad is a willing helper. Maybe we should encourage Santa , and his helpers, to share the carrots and celery sticks commonly left for Rudolf. Santa might also be encouraged to adopt a more active method of delivering toys; swapping his reindeer for a bike or simply walking or jogging.
We need to be aware that Santa has the ability to influence people, and especially children, towards unhealthy behaviour. During this holiday season, food becomes the common denominator at parties, work functions and family gatherings, for the entire duration of the festive season. Weight gain will be inevitable, but the following will assist you in minimising the damage at this time of the year.
HOW NOT TO LOOK LIKE SANTA
During the holiday season, it is believed that people gain anywhere between three and five kilos. However, the true weight that is gained is probably about half a kilogram, on average. It is important to note though that those who gain this extra weight are unlikely to lose it. This consistent holiday weight gain usually ends up contributing to weight gain in the long run, and obesity later in life.
The holidays are a critical time for ensuring that weight is maintained. As it is really difficult to lose weight, it is important to avoid gaining unwanted kilos at this time of the year.
FESTIVE SEASON SURVIVAL GUIDE:
Do not skip any meals. Skipping meals • makes you hungry and will usually result in overindulging at the next meal. Overeating will result in excess calories, which your body will store as fat.
Avoid going to a buffet hungry. To ensure that • you don’t overeat at a buffet, or fill up on the high calorie foods usually available, stick to fruit, vegetables, and drink sufficient water. Fill up on healthy, low calorie foods first.
Between drinking eggnog and alcoholic • beverages, drink a glass of water. You are going to drink these empty calories anyway, and you want to enjoy yourself, so just break it up with a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.
If you are cooking, always try to use a sugar • substitute.
Enjoy the festive season, but keep health and • calories in mind. Find the happy medium between enjoying a meal and over indulging.
Since it takes fifteen to twenty minutes for • your brain to register that you are full, eat slowly. With all the delicious food in front of you, it is sometimes hard to avoid scoffing everything down. By taking your time, you will consume fewer calories and avoid gaining unnecessary weight.
The holidays can be stressful, so if you tend to • turn to food to calm you down, beware. Look for another way to deal with stress, like doing other activities that you enjoy.
Don’t forget to stay active. With so much going • on, we tend to neglect physical activity. Walking, dancing, doing house work, gardening and running are all physical activities that can help to keep excess calories at bay.
Watch the taste-testing. Those little taste tests • may seem harmless, but even those little 50 calorie bites add up.
If you default on your weight loss goals, don’t • give up. Acknowledge the mistakes you’ve made and then re-focus.
Since it is extremely difficult to lose weight during the holidays, weight maintenance should be the goal. If you can survive the festive season without gaining weight, you have reason to be very proud of yourself. Heck, enjoy yourself, but don’t over indulge.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle both during and after the festive season. Constant weight gain and loss can be harmful to your health and your psyche.
The best way to survive this time of the year? Keep in mind that celebrations are really about family and friends; and not only about food.
“We need to instill in our social events that balance, moderation and variety are key to better health,” Caro Anthony of Innergize says.