Vow to move more, eat less over holidays

Linda Benedict, Roy, Heli J.  |  11/21/2009 1:23:45 AM

News Release Distributed 11/20/09

Try a different tack as you head into this holiday season. Vow to move more and eat less, says Heli Roy, LSU AgCenter nutritionist.

“Most people invariably gain weight over the holidays – anywhere from a half pound to five pounds,” Roy said. “But you don’t have to, and most people can’t afford to.”

Although it’s difficult not to gain when faced with all the tempting food and drink, you do have a few weapons at your disposal to prevent this from happening, she said.

First, plan movement and exercise into your holiday schedule. Take a walk with your favorite cousin before or after the Thanksgiving meal to catch up on news. Or go outside with the kids and play catch.

“Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to give up your exercise routine,” Roy said. “If you go for a walk every morning, continue to do that. If you go out of town, check ahead for advice on a good route to walk or find out if you can temporarily go to a health club nearby.”

To help keep your eating in check, try some of these tips when you attend holiday events:

– Avoid going to parties when you are too hungry. If you’re hungry, your biological system overrides your logical mind, and you may overeat.

– Choose a plate of vegetables and fruits before you head for casseroles or other rich food items.

– Take a break before refilling your plate to let the satiety cues reach your brain.

– Engage in conversation with several people so you won’t have time to eat.

– When tasting the rich food items, keep the portions small.

– After you’ve partaken of the buffet, move as far away from the table as possible to avoid reaching for seconds.

When it’s a sit-down meal:

– Choose a meat serving the size of a deck of cards. Avoid gravy or use it sparsely.

– If there are several dressings to choose from, pick one and take a tablespoon of it and enjoy it.

– Choose whole berry cranberry jelly, if available, and take only a tablespoonful. Enjoy it fully.

– Fill half the plate with vegetables.

– Choose whole grain rolls or bread, if possible. Pass on the butter.

– If the dessert is a rich chocolate or cheesecake, take one or two bites and enjoy them, but leave the rest.

– Before taking seconds, wait. It takes about 20 minutes for the signals from your stomach to reach your brain. You might be full already.

Ultimately, your most effective weapon is self-control. But that will be easier if you have a plan and stick to it, Roy says.

The LSU AgCenter has educational information on how to eat more healthfully. Go to www.lsuagcenter.com and search for Smart Choices.

Also, the LSU AgCenter chancellor, Bill Richardson, is writing a personal blog about his efforts to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. Go to www.lsuagcenter.com and click on Chancellor’s Challenge III on the front page.

Linda Foster Benedict
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