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The Weight Dilemma Over The Holidays: A Losing (Gaining) Battle?
by Marjorie Dorfman

Here it is again, that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner awaiting the right moment between swallows of flan and eggnog, to attach onto unsuspecting body parts. Is weight gain over the holidays as much of a sure thing as the holidays arriving? The answer is no, but it is not an easy and unequivocal no; it is a "no" laced with certain insight and behaviors. Read about it with at least the comfort of knowing that reading won’t put a single ounce upon your person!

Portion control is a vital weapon in the arsenal of tools aiding in the understanding of how to win the battle of the holiday bulge. For many, portion size is not something that ever crosses their minds because it is such a relative commodity. As a general rule, to determine the right portion size use your hand as a measuring guide. When dealing with meat, fish or poultry portions, consider the size of your palm for thicker cuts and your entire hand for thinner cuts. This usually turns out to be 5-7 ounces of protein to be eaten once a day.

Fist portions are for softer, starchy foods like pasta, rice and potatoes. For most women, this turns out to be somewhere around a cup. Many restaurants serve three and even four times this amount. Remember that two-thirds of the food on your plate should be vegetables, whole grains and fruits. These foods will help keep you satiated longer because blood sugar levels stay steady. One-third of your plate should be your meat portion.

Eat just one plate, no matter how good anything tastes. If you’re eating out, ask for a doggy bag container when you order your food. This allows you to whittle your entrée down to sensible portions and gives you another meal to enjoy another day. While many people overeat on Thanksgiving or Christmas day, it’s those holiday sweets that show up at the office and multitude of parties leading up to the holiday that can easily pack on a pound or two.

There is nothing wrong with having an occasional holiday treat, but one Christmas cookie is not the same as seven, no matter who taught you how to count. One way to counteract this is to create healthier versions of some of your favorite holiday desserts. Still, tell yourself how many will end up in your mouth BEFORE you take your first bite. Stick to your guns before you-know-what has a chance to stick to you-know-where!

It’s important to continue with an exercise regimen during the holidays no matter how busy you get. This will help to maintain your weight and give you more energy to boot. It is also recommended that you get enough sleep during the holiday season if for no other reason than you cannot eat and sleep at the same time!

The problem with "holiday weight gain" is that in most instances, at least according to the National Institute of Health, most Americans never shed the weight they gain during the winter holiday season. With a sure bet being that they will crop up every year, the weight gain grows from a harmless pound or two into well, you know what.

But it is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound if you follow the rules of portion control.

According to Susan Finn, PhD, RD, chairwoman of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition: "Portion control is the key. I don’t believe you can't eat food that you like, even indulgences, but it is the amount you eat."

According to New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD:

"Don’t go to a party when you’re starving. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate… Don’t look at the party as just a food event. Enjoy your friends' company or dancing. Focus on something other than food… Also, chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food."

Another portion control trick works well with buffet dinners. Use the smallest plate available and do not stack your food. One helping and that is it. Choose lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and minimal dips and sauces, for therein lies much ado about adipose.

Common sense will get you through the holidays and beyond without going up a clothing size.

Happy weigh-less holidays to all and to all the same dress and pants size!

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Copyright 2010