YOU Magazine - November 2006 - Enjoy Holiday Food Without Guilt or Weight Gain!
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
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Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
Phone: (907)261-3458 Cell: 223-4440
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License: NMLS Unique Identifier #203077
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
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Enjoy Holiday Food Without Guilt or Weight Gain!

Enjoy Holiday Food Without Guilt or Weight Gain!

It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. That's not only a twist on the beginning of a classic novel, it's also the way any weight-conscious food lover is likely to feel about the holidays.

The temptations are mouth-wateringly abundant: roasted turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Once December rolls around, the choices only get more decadent as everything from prime rib to a tray of grandma's cookies is rolled out in front of you.

It would be almost un-American not to let yourself indulge in these traditional pleasures. But unfortunately, given this country's obesity epidemic, it seems as though it's becoming very American to over-indulge. Like clockwork, January 2nd comes along and those who gorged themselves over the prior two months find that they're 5 to 20 pounds heavier and in dire need of a diet.

You can do things differently this year, says longtime physical trainer Lisa Farro. There's a way to fully enjoy the delectable pleasures of the holidays without ballooning into someone unrecognizable to your favorite pair of Levi's.

"It's all about mindset and moderation," Farro says. "You really shouldn't make this a time for losing weight, but you can make it a time for maintaining your weight without missing out on things."

In other words, a realistic physical fitness or health goal this time of year is to find yourself on Jan. 2 where you left off the day before Thanksgiving.

When you find yourself at a holiday bash in front of a buffet, or at the table with family and friends, Farro suggests you cut an imaginary line down the middle of your plate. One half of the plate should be covered with items such as salad and vegetables. Then imagine a line cutting through the other half of your plate from left to right. One of those two quarters of your plate should house the meat. The other quarter is where you should place the carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes, stuffing, and pasta.

"If you do this, you can stick fairly close to what the fad diets call for because the common element among them is to keep your intake of refined carbs low," Farro says.

When it comes to dessert, partaking will most likely put you out of compliance with almost any diet, including the popular Zone, South Beach, and Atkins methods. This is where proper mindset takes over.

"When you do have something special, treat it like it's special," Farro recommends.

Have a modest portion, serve it on a plate or in a bowl, and eat it sitting down, Farro suggests. This approach will help you to savor the dessert and makes it less likely that you'll binge.

Alcohol consumption also puts "bad sugars" into your system, so moderation is the way to go. Try having light beer instead of regular, or drink wine instead of something like a Kahlua and Cream Chocolate Surprise.

According to Farro, "You can cut a lot of calories out when you drop the creams and the sugars that are put into some of those (specialty) drinks."

Farro says that one of the most effective tools in helping people to lose weight is keeping a food journal. Writing down everything you eat makes a person highly conscious of their food intake, making it easier to eat appropriate portions and healthier foods. A recent study showed that people who kept a food journal lost an average of 3/4 of a pound per week, while those who did not gained up to an average of one pound per week.

Unfortunately, Farro says, some people hate keeping a journal, and they quit writing in it soon after starting a diet. If that's you, then just commit to writing down everything you eat through the holidays. It will help you to keep in check those almost unconscious moments when you treat yourself sometimes over and over to the goodies that have been brought into the office.

One final item that must be avoided entirely during the holidays is psychological, not gastronomical. Inevitably, with all the temptations around, people will overeat. So, they decide they'll "just enjoy" the holidays from that point forward, and they keep overeating for a month or more.

"If you do overdo it during the holidays, don't beat yourself up over it. Tomorrow is a new day," Farro suggests. "Just because you overdid it one day doesn't mean you have to give yourself license to overdo it until New Year's."

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