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Season of Temptation

During the holidays, keep this in mind - eat, drink and be healthy

News Staff Reporter

This holiday season, the enemy is not your mother-in-law. It's not the tin
of cookies from your co-worker. And no, it's not even Aunt Flo's legendary
fruitcake, the one used to prop open your storm door. The enemy this holiday
season, according to a nutrition expert, is the elastic waistband. Plain and
simple, it expands as you do.
"There are two challenges," said nutritionist Sharon Lawrence. "One is to
eat your normal diet, which is impossible, and the second is to get exercise
at a time when there's bone-chilling cold and pitch-black darkness."

The participants in The News' Life & Arts Health Challenge are everyday
people, working their way to a new style of living since last April. They
may be diligent, and they may slip, but they know that healthy holiday
eating requires a game plan.

With that in mind, "coach" Lawrence first dishes up sideline strategies to
combat this seasonal blitz - or as the challengers call it, the battle of
the expanding waistband. Then the challengers step forward to share their
thoughts - with focus on one special loss that will make everyone merry.

The 20-minute time out

It takes 20 minutes before food actually leaves your stomach and enters the
small intestine allowing blood sugar to rise and start appetite suppression,
according to Lawrence. So before taking that second helping, Lawrence
advises to wait out those 20 minutes. Talk to someone. Get away from that

After 20 minutes, if you still want more food, eat! Chances are you won't.

Size matters

Have moderate portions. Not a speck, not one bite, but a portion that you
will notice and that will satisfy. Eat it slowly, taste it and know you are
really enjoying it. If it's just one bite, the subconscious is not

"You might get away at that moment with one bite, but chances are later -
when no one is watching - you will eat and eat to get what it was you
needed," Lawrence said.

"Your subconscious will bankrupt you."

Home field advantage

Do not serve food family style, advises Lawrence. Rather, use the buffet
method. In that way, everyone will see the calorie hound who returns for a
second helping. What's more, temptation will not come knocking via the
serving dish that cruises under your nose on its way to the next person.

Display the food in the kitchen only, said Lawrence. That's where it
belongs. Living and family rooms are out of bounds in terms of eating.

Also, do not decorate with food in the designated no-eat zone. Skip those
foil-wrapped kisses. The red and green M&Ms, too. Opt for red and green
Chinese stress balls.

"People only think they are hungry," said Lawrence. "What they're really
looking for is something they can do with their hands. If you can occupy
their hands so they're not smoking or eating, then they don't partake in
unconscious eating."

Serve portion-controlled food. Cut the lasagna smaller. Serve sauces,
gravies, salad dressings and condiments on the side, allowing your guests to
dish up their own. Remember that green-bean casserole? Can the fried-onion
garnish. Try some almonds instead.

Also, the good hostess always plans a non-eating activity, and we don't mean
couch sitting. Muster some energy and go for a calorie-burning walk.

Scouting report

Compile your own scouting report, said Lawrence. Before you go through a
buffet line, walk it first: plate less and with your hands behind your back.

"See what is actually being served," Lawrence said. "Chances are the low-fat
foods like the shrimp cocktail, are probably at the end."

Driven by desserts? Here, the best strategy is again to peek first. Plan the
sweet you will eat, and have a decent-sized portion. Making the choice
mentally prepares you in advance and avoids impulse eating.

If there's a cocktail hour, arrive 15 minutes late, and keep your eyes
peeled on the walking hors d'oeuvres. They contain the highest fat and
should be avoided at all cost, warned Lawrence. Get in the habit of saying
no thank you to items - bacon-wrapped scallops and egg rolls - that are
being passed.

"You do not have to eat one bite of everything just because it is served,"
said Lawrence. "Politely say: "That's not one of my favorite foods.' Explain
that you are totally stuffed and cannot eat one more bite. Or, if the host
is exceptionally pushy, put it on your plate and leave it there."

Hold your position

Turn your back on the bar so you're not looking over someone's shoulder at
the food. Don't sit next to the food - at the end of the couch next to the
bowl of chips.

"Your hand with its magic eyeballs will feed your mouth unconsciously,"
Lawrence said. "Your hand will find the bowl without you even looking.
Besides, you want to take a plate instead of handfuls. Put the food on a
plate so you can see it in front of you. Then you'll have an actual portion
that you determined."




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