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Battle of the bulge

Holidays accent need to control caloric intake

November 30, 2010
By CHRISTOPHER DIEM Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - With the abundance of savory meals, decadent desserts and party food served during the holidays, it's not unusual for many people to gain a few pounds.

But with just a little bit of extra exercise and being mindful of what you eat, people can keep the holiday weight off.

"The biggest thing that I find over the holidays is to make sure you get out and get an extra walk in or some form of exercise on those days you know you're going to be eating more than normal," said Dr. Erica Griffin of Marquette.

Article Photos

Turkey dinners with all of the trimmings, as seen in these file photos, are among the caloric hazards people must address during the holidays. (Journal file photo)

The exercise does not have to be strenuous, just enough to increase a person's heart rate. The exercise should be maintained for about half an hour, she said.

If preparing for a party or a large meal with family, people should not go in hungry.

"Make sure you eat appropriately throughout the day beforehand so that when you get there you're not going to eat more than you should." she said.

Griffin said people should be able to enjoy themselves and eat whatever they want as long as they eat it in moderation.

"In general, there's not an off-limits food. It's all in how much you eat in a certain food ... there's a good hunger and fullness scale - 10 being you are absolutely stuffed and you're going to throw up and one meaning you are absolutely famished and are going to die if you don't eat something immediately. You have to think about yourself on that scale. And then when you're at a comfortable six or seven, that's when you need to stop. So it's really a matter of knowing yourself," she said.

In addition, studies have shown that people who eat slowly and savor every bite are more likely to eat less.

Griffin said another well-known trick to watching what you eat is to keep the toothpicks that may be included in appetizers at parties.

"Keep your toothpicks, put them in your pocket and that way you'll know how much you've eaten. You can set yourself a limit and stick to that limit," she said.

People should also watch out for alcoholic beverages. For example, Griffin said a cup of eggnog with alcohol contains about 400 calories.

"It's pretty impressive if you look at the number of calories that are in different alcoholic beverages. And there's tons of alcohol around Christmas time and New Years," Griffin said.

Griffin recommended people eat foods with more protein because those will keep people satisfied longer. She also recommended foods with more fiber in them.

And when choosing a dessert, Griffin said to pick one that you absolutely love and have a small amount of it.

"If you're going to eat something sweeter and more decadent have something that you really love. Don't just have something to have something," Griffin.

Christopher Diem can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His e-mail address is



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