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Monday, December 12, 2011

What if Santa Ate the Reindeers’ Food, Too?

By David Grotto, RD, LDN

We have a yearly routine at our home. Santa gets the plate of cookies and a cup of milk while the Reindeer receive assorted fruit and vegetables and a glass of water. Everyone knows how much Santa loves his milk and cookies, and of course, Reindeer being herbivores and all, they don’t mess with his milk and cookies. We faithfully leave these items out every Christmas Eve before heading to bed and return the next morning amazed at how he and the reindeer polished off almost every bite. Well, that’s what I used to think…

Someone a few years back calculated how many bizillion calories Santa would have consumed in a night if he ate milk and cookies at every home he visited. The next year I saw a writer calculate how many bizillions of calories he burned while traveling the world hauling a big bag of toys in a single evening. Fascinating information, but frankly, I think they’re overlooking something. You see, I’ve been tracking his appearance all of my life and I’ve made a keen observation. Though he’s quite a chubby fellow, as indicted by all of the historical documents and even visual sightings, his weight seems to have been holding steady for as long as he’s been in the present-delivering business. Check me on this. Same eight reindeer and sleigh, right? I don’t see that either sleigh or reindeer have been “supersized” to haul him around. Chimneys haven’t changed much in design – they’re pretty much the same-sized opening he’s always had to navigate. So how do we explain this phenomenon?

Maybe Santa doesn’t eat all of the milk and cookies? Maybe he doesn’t want us to feel bad and throws some of them away? Maybe he likes vegetables and eats some of what’s left out for the reindeer? He can easily get away with it. They aren’t going to know if they were left any or not – they don’t come down the chimney!

How else could you explain his success at weight maintenance? Sure, he’s physically active but all the experts seem to agree that the calories consumed would outweigh his calories burned.

What of his cognitive abilities? After all those years of consuming saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fats (store-bought cookies happen), surely Santa would have developed senile dementia or Alzheimer’s by now?! But each year, he still remembers how to get to everyone’s houses and even remembers to put the right name on the right package. And he never forgets who’s been naughty or nice! Current research is quite clear – a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. It’s very clear to me that he has combated years of saturated and trans fat intake with ample fiber and phytochemicals found in the vegetables that were supposed to have been eaten by the reindeer. Eureka! Santa seems to be maintaining his weight and being obese doesn’t seem to be affecting his health or his ability to carry out his duties. He is a living example of enjoying good health at any size.

What lessons can we learn from Santa?

  • Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruit and veggies
  • Get in some physical activity.
  • Enjoy treats in moderation. Throw out the leftovers.
  • Don’t tell the reindeer everything. What happens in your house stays in your house.

If you weighed as much as Santa, could you keep up with him? Know anyone who is healthy but overweight? Give me the gift of your comments

Posted by: David Grotto, RD, LDN at 9:26 am

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