My trashy little Christmas secret

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, December 19, 2013

By Jett Johnson

Every holiday season my mom puts together gift baskets for family and friends, and I always help deliver the baskets. I drive from house to house, dropping off delicious treats while catching up with friends. In return, every person that I will deliver to gives me something to take home to my family.

One particular family friend gives us an assortment of goodies every year. In this bag there is always a large bag of “trash” — a delicious concoction of peanut butter, chocolate, powdered sugar, Chex mix, and more.


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That bag has never seen the light of my family’s home. I secretly scarf down what must be a half-pound, 4,000-calorie treasure trove of sweetness. I have never once told my mom. It’s my dark, delicious, holiday secret.

We all have them around the holidays.

It’s not an easy task to stay healthy and fit during the holiday season in Suffolk. Everything seems to get a bit more decadent. The hams become glazed. The peanuts become chocolate-dipped. The yams receive an artery-blocking layer of marshmallows.

It’s hard to eat healthy when even our vegetables betray us.

Your home is teeming with holiday favors. Your workplace is inundated with sweet treats. Every friend and family member is pushing something fattening your way. What’s worse, portion sizes around this season are constantly on the rise.

So, we’re at a crossroads. You can’t completely deny yourself the spoils of the season, but let’s be honest — it would be much easier if on Jan. 1 you had a jumpstart on that resolution. By taking a few small steps now, you’ll mitigate the aerobic obligations that are sure to come once the tree comes down and that little, judgmental needle on the scale goes up.

Take advantage, for instance, of digging out those ornament boxes. An hour of hauling boxes back and forth can burn a few hundred calories. Go shopping! Support your local businesses. You could burn nearly 1,000 calories as you hustle from one store to the next.

Pay attention to hors d’oeuvres. Rather than fatty or sugary foods prior to the main meal, focus on fish, salads, fruit, cheeses and vegetables. You can still indulge during the main course, if necessary, but you may no longer need that extra bite.

Enjoy your family. We have great parks and trails in this city. Bundle up and head out to Bennett’s Creek, Lake Meade, Sleepy Hole, or Lone Star Lakes and take a walk with your loved ones. A 30-minute walk can burn 175 calories.

I am a relatively healthy individual. I exercise, eat right, and take care of my overall health. But I will not hesitate for one second to scarf down that entire bag of delicious, devilishly tempting “trash” as soon as the opportunity arises.

It’s that certainty that compels me to reach for an apple instead of ice cream as I write this.

Jett Johnson is the program manager for the Healthy People Healthy Suffolk initiative with the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community. Email him at