Monday, December 20, 2010

Should Santa Diet?

With so much focus on the obesity epidemic in the United States, you might think that St. Nick should lighten up a bit. After all, he is a role model of sorts for America’s children. But would the world be a better place with a thin Sana Claus? Is forcing Santa to lose weight going too far? Can a fat Santa be a healthy Santa?

Let’s explore if Santa’s weight problem is, indeed, a problem. Studies show that fitness level is a much better measure of someone’s health than their weight. If Santa passes the following tests, we should not worry about his weight:

  • Blood Pressure below 120/80
  • Blood Sugar below 100
  • Cholesterol below 200
  • LDL’s below 100
  • HDL’s above 60
  • Triglycerides below 150
We know that Santa gets plenty of exercise on Christmas Eve but he needs to be walking (or snow shoeing) at least 30 minutes on most days of the week as well. We also know that Santa does not smoke which lowers his chances of getting heart disease and several kinds of cancers. Not smoking also helps Santa deliver presents without getting out of breath. But Santa still needs to eat a balances diet. Here’s how you can help Santa out.

Healthy Santa Snacks:

  • Skim or 1% milk. Santa needs milk to wash down those cookies. Milk is loaded with protein that will keep Santa’s muscles strong as he unloads all of our presents. It’s also got calcium to lower Santa’s chances of breaking a bone in case of a hard landing.
  • Cookie Control. If you’re sticking with the traditional Santa snack of milk and cookies, be sure to practice portion control. Remember, you’re not the only one leaving him food. No more than one or two Oreos (50 calories each) should sustain Santa until he gets to the next house.
  • Think Mediterranean. Santa needs fat in his diet to stay jolly so let’s make that fat the healthy kind. The Mediterranean diet is packed with healthy plant fats like olives and olive oil. So how about leaving Santa some hummus and pita chips?
  • Nuts and Seeds. Nuts and seeds are also healthy fats and if Santa is getting behind on schedule, they travel well. He can throw them in his sack and be on his way. The reindeer like them too.
  • Balance with Fruits and Veggies. Santa cannot live on cookies alone! He would welcome some carrot sticks with ranch dressing or a banana that he can take with him on the sled. Why not pack up some apples with peanut butter for the trans-Atlantic leg of his trip?
  • Don’t Drink and Fly. Save the alcohol for Christmas night. When I was a kid, my dad told me that Santa really wanted a beer or a glass of scotch (no ice) for his snack. But that’s not really a very good idea. Don’t leave Santa alcohol. Drinking and flying is a no-no.
Beth Kitchin, MS, RD
Assistant Professor of Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham

1 comment:

  1. I recollect that it was spiked egg nog Santa wanted.