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
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
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
"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
"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
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