The holiday season can mean enjoying your favorite food. However, the extra helpings can lead to packing on pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

“The average increase is between 1.5 and 2 pounds, and the scale creep actually starts as early as October,” said Lauren C. Srdoch, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with Tennova Healthcare. “Perhaps more important is the fact that many people fail to take this weight back off after the holidays are over. That means that ‘holiday weight’ alone could add 20 pounds to your body during a single decade of your life.”

Holiday weight gain can be caused by many factors including social events, stress eating, lack of time to exercise or not being able to plan meals.

“Holiday foods can contain a lot of landmines, even for those who are educated about food and mindful of calories,” Srdoch said. “We all know that mashed potatoes can be a calorie- and carb-killer. But what about that medium-sized candied sweet potato? It contains a surprising 305 calories—and that’s a whole lunch for someone trying to watch or lose weight.”

According to Tennova, the average Thanksgiving dinner equals 3,000 calories and 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks. Only 3,500 calories equal one pound of fat.

2 oz. M&Ms1708g24g
6 oz. Turkey w/Gravy (light/dark meat)4404g20g
1 cup Mashed Potatoes26010g40g
1 cup Stuffing (Stove Top brand)2202g42g
1 slice Pecan Pie52025g69g

Tennova says it is important to remember portion control.

“One meal will not dictate your weight,” Srdoch added. “Enjoy the holidays and the social time with family and friends, and try to incorporate these tips. Remember, though, consistently consuming nutritious meals over the course of the entire holiday season is what will ultimately help stave off the unwanted pounds.”

Fun ways to exercise

There are many events happening in East Tennessee to help make exercising fun for the entire family.

Turkey Trots

The Clayton Turkey Trot for Education will be in Maryville Nov. 19.

On Thanksgiving Day, Regal Entertainment Group will host its Knoxville Turkey Trot 5K and Little Gobbler Kids Run downtown. The Maryville Athletic Boosters are hosting a 5K on the holiday at Coulter Grove Intermediate School. Also on Thanksgiving Day, Farragut’s Hot to Trot 5K, 10K and Fun Run will be held at Turkey Creek.


Tennessee State Parks will offer free, guided hikes across the state Nov. 24. All ages and abilities can participate in the hikes.

Also, there will be hikes on New Year’s Eve and Day. Some hikes will be one mile in length and suitable for beginners. There will be longer hikes for the advanced. 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting guided hikes Nov. 24. at Mingus Creek and Cucumber Gap near Elkmont.

Santa/Ugly Christmas Sweater Runs

Maryville’s Reindeer Run will be held Dec. 3. The Arthritis Foundation is hosting its Jingle Bell Run at World’s Fair Park Dec. 6.

Orangetheroy Fitness’ Bearden location will be hosting its Ugly Sweater Run Dec. 10. Also on Dec. 10, the Santa Hustle Smokies 5K and Half Marathon will take place in Sevierville.

The Rock’in Santa Half Marathon & Sunshine Santa 5K will be held Dec. 16 at Victor Ashe Park.