Allergy & Nutrition Clinic
6521 Arlington Boulevard
Falls Church, VA 22042
How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain The Role Of Calories and Allergens
The average American adult tends to gain one to two pounds during the holiday season. While this weight gain isn’t dramatic, research shows it tends to accumulate over the years. Fortunately, extra weight can be avoided through mindful cooking and eating strategies, as well as exercise.
It’s not just a matter of calories. It’s also the type of calories, mainly excess sugar and fat. Note that sugar and protein contain four calories per gram each, while fats contain nine calories per gram. Alcohol is processed as a fat at seven calories per gram. Choose recipes that use low sugar and fat. Eat some protein at each meal. Limit your intake to one serving (plate full) per meal. Two to three servings will pile on the pounds. Same advice holds for desserts.
Allergens are another factor that lead to weight gain. Why? Allergens cause inflammation, which results in water retention and oxidative damage to your tissues. The 5 most common allergens are wheat, milk, eggs, soy, and peanuts, and possibly tomato. The most common foods we eat!
There are different kinds of allergies. Immediate IgE allergies are obvious, and usually occur within one minute to one hour. They can cause asthma, rhinitis, hives, eczema, flushing of the face and ears, and even anaphylactic shock. But only 20% of people have these kinds of reactions.
Whereas, delayed IgG hypersensitivities make up 80% of food reactions. They are often hard to recognize because they are delayed up to 8-12 hours, making it hard to pinpoint the offending foods. They are also hidden, with responses not easily recognized as allergies. These include digestive problems, headaches, joint pains, muscle spasms, kidney pains, and more.
Fortunately, we now have more options for lowering calories and eliminating allergens. Consider a pumpkin pie. Use yogurt instead of sweetened condensed milk. Yogurt is rarely allergic. For gluten free crust, substitute sorghum, rice, and tapioca flours. Substitute raw sugar for refined sugar. You can even use gelatin to replace eggs. It’s delicious with a nearly identical taste, and has lower fat, calories, and lower allergen content.
How about stuffing? Stir fry vegetables in light olive oil, including celery or fennel, mushrooms, scallions (less reactive than other onions or garlic), and almond slivers. Add these to cooked rice and/or gluten-free bread crumbs. Heat and serve. Consider buying an allergy-free cookbook. But avoid GMO foods such as soy, corn, and canola oil (due to herbicide residues). Bon appetite.