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Proper Plan Can Keep Holiday Overindulgence In Check


Times Record (Fort Smith, AR)

11-27-13

Nov. 24--With turkey, ham, dressing, potatoes and sugary desserts nearby, the desire to overeat can spread like wildfire during the holiday season.

Each year, the average American gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, making it difficult to shed those unwanted, unhealthy pounds, said Dr. Keith Kantor, CEO with the Norcross, Ga.-based Green Box Foods. Even those people with the intention to eat less and continue their exercise routine through the Christmas season can cave into overeating.

"The seven-pounds thing is called 'weight creep,' and over four or five years, you have an overweight and obese population," said Kantor during a recent telephone interview.

Despite the taste buds' attraction to food, there are ways for people to enjoy food without slipping into overindulgence, said Kantor, whose organization is a nutrition wellness solution provider designed to develop a comprehensive, nutrition-focused platform while helping reduce medical costs. The first way to combat the tendency to overeat is to form and follow a plan without making the plan overtly strict, he said.

"We plan everything for vacations, retirements and everything, but we really don't have a plan for health problems," Kantor said. "It doesn't have to be a 47-page plan, but you need to figure out what you are going to do and follow that."

To help control eating, people should drink "one-half of their body weight in ounces" before they go to that holiday party or a family feast, he said.

"If you weight 150 pounds, then you drink 75 ounces of water," Kantor said. "Water is healthy, naturally, and it fills you up, and if you partake in drinking alcohol, have a glass of water in between every drink. Alcohol and food both have calories involved -- for some reason, people who drink more alcohol, eat more, too -- so drinking water will help with that."

Kantor also recommends that people eat "a healthy breakfast or lunch" with vegetables and proteins before they go to the office luncheon or family meal.

"The preparty meal can be light, but still do it," he said. "Don't go to the party famished. Make sure you aren't starving when you go to the party."

Ironically, a form of peer pressure can play into a person's willingness to overeat at the Thanksgiving table, especially when it comes to desserts, Kantor said.

"Grandma made this dessert and Aunt Martha made that dessert, so you don't want to insult anybody by not trying their dessert," he said. "You can try desserts by only taking one-third of a slice of three different desserts. That way you are sampling everyone's dessert; you're eating less; and you're making your taste buds and everyone happy."

Taking an economic approach to eating meats and vegetables also helps prevent a person from gaining weight, Kantor said.

"Fill up at least one-third of your plate with proteins -- turkey, brisket or ham," he said. "Proteins will keep you full longer and they're healthy for you."

One-third of the plate should contain vegetables that contain vitamins and nutrients, and one-fourth of the plate should be left for carbohydrates like potatoes and stuffing, Kantor said. The carbohydrates usually contain many calories but lack nutrients, he said.

"People should also take it easy on the gravy and sauces," Kantor said. "Those have a lot of calories, sugars and salts in them."

People should pace themselves while eating, allowing between 20 and 30 minutes for each meal, according to www.transitioningmovement.com. Chewing food thoroughly before swallowing ensures the person is eating at a good pace, the site states.

"Take your time before deciding (on) seconds. It takes anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes for your stomach to release the hormone cholecystokinin, which sends signals to your brain indicating you are full," the site states.

If possible, people should follow their exercise routine throughout the Thanksgiving-Christmas season, just like they do during the rest of the year, Kantor said. Exercise during the holidays is crucial, even if it's done earlier or later in the day than usual, he said.

"You have to exercise because your body and your metabolism are used to the exercise," Kantor said. "If you stop exercising, your metabolism slows down and, plus, you're eating extra food, so you get a double whammy."

Using a pedometer while walking can be useful and encouraging, he said.

"You don't have to walk on a treadmill, but when you go to the mall, do a few laps," Kantor said. "With most of those who do laps, you get in 10,000 steps, and that will burn calories and raise your metabolism."

A person's tendency to overeat can stem from stress from family matters, financial issues and other concerns, he said.

"If a person will follow these steps, they'll partake in the holidays and eat a regular meal," Kantor said. "By doing this, hopefully, that person won't put on excess calories."

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(c)2013 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.)

Visit Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) at www.swtimes.com

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Copyright Times Record (Fort Smith, AR) 2013

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