Holiday Feast Second Helpings
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It Will Cost You

“Everything comes with a price. Everything. Some things just cost more than others.”
                                                                                                            — Brom (The Child Thief)

People consume an average of 4,000-6,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day!

The holidays are a stressful time for those people trying to lose or maintain their weight.  There are a lot of tempting delights such as pastries, candy, fat, alcohol, and carbs galore!  I struggle with willpower, too.  I’ve even resorted to making my family hide candy and cookies.  Like many people, I love chocolate.  I can sniff out a bag of  M&Ms a mile away!

Unfortunately, October begins the hardest stretch of the year for people who want to lose weight and eat healthy.  Over three months, there are Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years.  During this time, “there are parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow”… (accompanied by cookies and hot chocolate).  In fact, there are several sources that report the average calories consumed on Thanksgiving Day range from 4,000 – 6,000.  WOW!   That would take me about seven spinning classes to work off!

So, how to you survive the holidays and not stress out?

First, give yourself a break.  Enjoy the holidays and time spent with family and friends.  If you are stressed about food, you’ll probably eat more and stress out everyone else around you.

Second, practice portion control.  Be smart and watch portion sizes.  Many servings of things like potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc… are 1/2 cup. The average person will have 3-4 serving-size portions – twice!  Serving sizes for sauces are usually 1-2 tsp.  And a serving size of your favorite meat is about 3 oz., the size of a deck of cards.   Remember that it’s not a contest to see how high you can pile food up on your plate.  It’s about savoring the flavors of some great dishes while taking in nourishment for your body. 

A lot of us (I’m guilty) eat until we are about to puke.  We need to recognize when we are full and then STOP!  One thing I noticed while working in Switzerland several years ago was that people there weren’t obese (at least not like in the U.S.).  One reason is that they eat slowly and they practice portion control. C’mon, have you ever seen portion sizes in Europe?  They’re tiny compared to, say… a Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast!

Another tip is to drink a couple of glasses of water 30-45 minutes prior to the big meal.  It will give you a sense of feeling full.  And our body often mistakes thirst for hunger.  When we aren’t hydrated, we’ll often eat when all our body really wants is good ol’ H2O.  That doesn’t mean to quench your thirst with a lite beer or vodka martini!

Finally… if you are still tempted by seconds and thirds, set up a currency system where the payment for that second helping of Aunt Martha’s mashed potatoes or the extra piece of grandma’s pumpkin pie, comes in the form of exercise.  I used a similar system for Halloween candy and it worked.

Here’s how it works.  The main course is free, so enjoy!  An extra entree will cost you 25 push-ups.  An extra side dish costs 25 crunches.  An extra dessert is a whopping 30 minutes of cardio!  Write the currency down on Post-It® notes and then stick them on the fridge or give them to a responsible (and preferably sober) family member who will hold you accountable.  Just know that the extra helpings will cost you dearly and that the next day may very well be the hardest workout of your life.

As we approach the holidays, be thankful for the blessings you have and take time to enjoy the day.  And remember… give yourself a break!

To your health!

For more nutritional information, visit http://www.mypyramid.gov/

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