News Column

How to Avoid Thanksgiving Weight Gain

November 21, 2013

Jonathan McCoy, Maryland Gazette

It's that time of year when extra calories from the upcoming holidays can lead to extra pounds. Cakes, pies and cookies at the office party, a second helping at Thanksgiving dinner and a cocktail or two at happy hour.

All of these extras add up and, as a result, you may be putting on more than a pound or two by Jan. 1.

So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's just a pound? Research shows most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.

But you don't have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday treats without putting on a single pound. Remember -- portion control is the key. It is not so much what you eat, but how much you eat!

Of course, it's not easy to go on portion patrol when the temptations are endless. However, if you follow these tips, they can help you avoid overindulging and consuming one too many calories.

Never arrive hungry

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.

Divert your attention

Don't look at the party as just a food event. Enjoy your friends' company or dancing. Focus on something other than food.

Pace yourself

Don't eat too fast. If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food.

Outsmart the buffet

When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don't stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. Fresh fruits and vegetables and shrimp cocktail are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips.

Limit alcohol

Avoid drinking too much alcohol at holiday parties. If you drink a lot, you won't have as much control over what you eat.

Be choosy about sweets

When it comes to dessert, be very selective. Limit your indulgences to small portions and only what is very sensual to you.

Bring your own treats

Whether you're going to a friend's party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you'll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting.

Walk it off

Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for a while.

Remember you can enjoy the holidays and the delicious foods used to celebrate this special time of year. Just remember to consume in moderation!

Dr. Jonathan McCoy is a family practice physician at University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Primary Care and on the medical staff at Baltimore Washington Medical Center. To contact McCoy, call 410-553-8265.

(c) 2013 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

Original headline: Health Talk: Ways to avoid holiday weight gain

Source: (c) 2013 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.