Plan keeps holiday calories in check

Published 6:20 pm Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Editor’s Note: Last week, Angela Treadaway discussed the potential health hazards of overeating. Now, nutrition expert Jennifer Dutton tells us how to prevent doing so.

Holidays are the time to celebrate with family and friends. Of course most celebrations center on meals and refreshments. So, how do you maintain your healthy diet standards without appearing rude?

One holiday meal could have as many as 5,000 calories. One pound is 3,500 calories. This means a person can gain approximately one and a half pounds per meal.

If the typical person ate only one holiday meal, weight control could be maintained by doubling up on exercise. The problem is most people do not eat just one holiday dinner.

Celebrations at work, at church, with family and with friends can call for five or more mega meals a week. Plus, people tend to snack and eat leftovers in between. Exercise is usually held to a minimum because people are sitting in a car, sitting during meals and sitting to watch a ball game or movie. Overeating and lack of exercise can easily lead to a five-pound weight gain.

Have a plan of action before the holiday. First, remember to drink several glasses of water before a meal. The water will give you a sense of fullness and help you to resist temptation.

Second, limit your portion size. By eating half the serving size, you have eliminated half the calories.

Third, try to do something physical. A game of tag football in the backyard before watching the game could burn off a few calories. A walk or a bicycle ride around the neighborhood could add activity to the day. Most importantly, try to do something besides just sitting.

It is important for people on specialized diets to stick to the regimen set forth by their health care provider. One of the best ways to maintain control in their situation is to carry a dish that they can eat and greatly restrict portion sizes of other foods.