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Your Health & Wellness, Iss #020 -- How to enjoy the holidays without destroying your diet
December 14, 2007

(Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle)

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Week of December 16, 2007

Table of Contents

* Healthy Holiday Eating *

Healthy Holiday Eating

We are in the middle of the holiday season. The Big Three holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, all occur in three consecutive months. And in all three, food is prominent. Not that food is less prominent the rest of the year. But during this time of the season, caution is sometimes thrown to the wind. We tend to eat more than we normally do any other time of the year.

But with a little forethought, the holiday season doesn't have to be a weight gain nightmare. The average American will gain between 8 to 10 pounds during the holiday season. This doesn't have to be you.

There are some diet no-nos which will only lead you to do what you set out not to do during the holidays. One of the primary tactics used during the holiday season, as well as to lose weight in general, is to skip meals. This is a recipe for disaster. You will only set yourself up to overeat when you skip meals.

You know that you will be going to Aunt Amy's house for that big Christmas dinner. Naturally you don't want to offend Aunt Amy by fussing over the food. So you skip a couple of meals in order that you will have room in your stomach for all of Aunt Amy's goodies.

However, by the time you get to Aunt Amy's house at 3 PM, you are ravenously hungry. Not only do you eat all of Aunt Amy's goodies, but you maybe have a second helping. You have lost control of your appetite. You wind up eating more calories than you would normally have eaten if you had not skipped breakfast and/or lunch.

See how easy it is to pack on 8 to 10 pounds in a three month period? And then after the holidays you have a severe attack of the guilties. Or worse than that, you justify yourself by saying you didn't want to hurt Aunt Amy's feelings. Or maybe you say you only do it a couple of times a year. What's the big deal?

Well-the big deal is that you have lost all discipline. You have also based your holiday eating on the false premise that by skipping meals you can compensate for whatever you eat later.

Let's examine the implications of the lack of discipline displayed during the eat like there's no tomorrow holiday season. A lack of discipline means a lack of control. This signifies that food controls you rather than the other way around. This is not good. To maintain a healthy weight, you must remain in control.

How do you stay focused on 'discipline'? By staying focused on why you want to reach or maintain your weight and health. Maybe you want to shed some weight because you don't want to develop type 2 diabetes or have a stroke. Or maybe you want to remain cancer-free (1 out of every 2 Americans will develop cancer sometime in their lifetime!) These are compelling reasons to exercise discipline.

The idea that skipping meals will enable you to eat anything in any quantity with impunity is flawed. The human body was designed with a wonderful defense mechanism. This mechanism kicks into operation whenever we try to work against our bodies by manipulating meals.

Whenever our body determines that food is not forthcoming, it slows down its metabolism in order to conserve fuel. It doesn't know when its next meal is coming, or even if it is coming. This happens when a meal is skipped. The metabolism slows down and fat is conserved. Simultaneously you get very hungry.

You've heard the saying, 'it's not nice to fool Mother Nature?' Well, as far as food is concerned, you can't fool her. When it comes time to eat at Aunt Amy's house, YOU WILL OVEREAT!

Although it seems to fly in the face of common sense, the best way to control holiday eating is by eating small meals. Make sure those meals consist of protein and fiber. This will ensure you will feel full. In order to prepare for Aunt Amy's 3 o'clock dinner, eat at 1 or 2 small meals. When you arrive for dinner, you won't be held captive by hunger, and overeat.

Be careful of portion size when eating. By using portion control you can indulge in your favorite foods without sabotaging your diet. And you won't feel guilty for having done so. You are in control, and this IS the holiday season. The meal is the exception rather than the rule. (See...)

By controlling portion sizes, you can have your favorite dish of macaroni and cheese with gravy. Or maybe it's potato salad. Another way to help with controlling your portion sizes is to eat from smaller plates. Plates were smaller 30 to 40 years ago. Today they can more aptly be called platters.

And remember, you don't have to eat as though there is no tomorrow. One of my mother's favorite sayings while growing up was, "your eyes are bigger than your stomach." Don't let that be you this holiday season.

Drink plenty of water. Not only is water necessary for overall health, but it will also help fill you up. This means that you are less likely to overeat at Aunt Amy's house. (See...)

Exercise will also affect the appetite. Don't neglect to continue to exercise during the holiday season. It will keep your metabolism revved up so that your body will burn those fat calories. Another good idea is to take a walk after eating.

Have a blessed holiday season.

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    I hope that the information contained in this ezine was helpful. If you have any questions or comments concerning this week's topic(s), please go here...

    Until next week...

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