It is that time of the year again. Stores will be taking down fall decorations and replacing them with Christmas trees, yard ornaments, garland, and gingerbread houses.

Seasonal television programming will also begin flooding its viewers with commercials revolving around all of the latest and greatest Christmas must-haves for the year. As a result, money also seems to disappear more rapidly.

“We love our traditions, but sometimes our traditions can get the best of our waistline and our bank account making the post-holiday season a little stressful,” said Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

Finances and calories

Results from this year’s National Retail Federation’s Consumer Survey Report found that holiday shoppers plan to spend a total of $805 on themselves and family members.

Another report found that about 40 percent of Americans feel pressured to overspend during the months of November and December.

“These holiday purchases are charged to a credit card, carrying the financial burden and stress of the holidays continues on for several weeks and months,” said Janet LaFon, a family financial education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

While our pockets are running dry, our pants are threatening to burst at the seams.

According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average holiday dinner can carry up to 3,000 calories and additional nibbling on appetizers and drinks can add up to 1,500 calories.

Just one 3,000 calorie dinner and the 1,500 calorie nibbling is the equivalent of more than 2.5 times the average daily calorie intake.

“Several studies claim people gain one to two pounds during the holidays,” said Stevenson. “However, that is only if you’re a person with a healthy body mass index. If you’re overweight or obese, the weight gained is more likely to be up to five pounds.”

Steps to improvement

What is there to look forward to with the bank accounts emptying and the plates overflowing?

These are a few strategies anyone can use during the holidays and any other day of the year to make little adjustments that can help improve one’ health or financial status.

Think Balance, Not Sacrifice – “You can still enjoy the pleasures of holiday dinners, just don’t over-indulge. Try a spoonful of everything you want instead of loading the plate down with outrageous portions,” said Stevenson.

Say “NO” to Super-Sizing — Shopping centers and online stores will be offered all kinds of deals and bargains, but be on the lookout. Many times the “Buy X and get Y for half price” or “Buy three of X and get one more free” deals are a way to get you to spend more money. “You should ask yourself if you have X do you really need Y, or will you actually use four X’s or is just one enough,” said LaFon.

Convert Consumption into Labor — Think about the food displayed at the holiday dinner. How much exercise are you going to have to do to work all of those calories off? Is it worth it? Will you even attempt to work it off?  “The same goes for spending your hard earned dollars. Before you make a purchase think about how many hours or days you would have to work just to buy that one item?” said LaFon.

For more ideas on how to avoid the unintentional financial and health burden that can come with the holidays, contact Lindsey Stevenson at (417) 682-3579 or Janet LaFon at (417) 358-2158.