Feasting and fitness
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[December 23, 2008]
SPRINGFIELD -- In an effort to combat
holiday weight gain, Illinois Department of Public Health Director
Dr. Damon T. Arnold encourages Illinoisans to avoid overeating
this holiday season and make a pact to eat healthy and exercise.
"It is important to recognize the harmful and potential long-term
effects that holiday weight gain can have on your body. Excessive
weight can lead to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease
and high blood pressure. Gaining unnecessary pounds now, makes it
more difficult to shed the weight down the road," said Arnold.
According to the National Institute of Health, most people gain
approximately 1 pound every holiday season. Research shows that
extra weight often gained during the holidays tends to build up over
the years, contributing to long-term obesity.
million Americans age 20 and older are overweight or obese; more
than 67 million are obese.
The Department of Public Health recommends the following healthy
habits this holiday season:
Be active -- If
you exercise regularly, don't stop; continue to exercise over
the holidays. If a holiday party includes dancing, join in!
times -- If possible, schedule holiday dinners at normal meal
times. Having meals outside of normal meal times contributes to
Watch what you
drink -- When you're at a holiday celebration, avoid soda and
other sweetened beverages. A 12-ounce can of soda can have more
than 150 calories. A 16-ounce glass of punch or lemonade can
have over 200 calories. Stay away from natural fruit juices --
they also carry many calories. It is best to drink water
whenever possible. Diet beverages made with artificial
sweeteners can help you control your calories at celebrations,
although drinking them on a regular basis may not help with
long-term weight control.
Beware of alcohol
-- Alcohol can be a major source of hidden calories as well. A
single shot of liquor, about 2 ounces, is nearly 125 calories. A
5-ounce glass of wine or a 12-ounce glass of beer is about 160.
Sweet mixed drinks have even more calories. An 8-ounce
margarita, for example, has 240 calories. Some good alternatives
are cocoa instead of eggnog, champagne that is low in calories
or a bloody mary.
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Food choices --
Choose foods that are lower in energy density, meaning they have
fewer calories for their size. You'll feel fuller sooner and
take in fewer calories. For example, start out your meal with a
salad or soup. Skip the second helpings of stuffing, mashed
potatoes and gravy; go for more vegetables instead. If you're
bringing dessert, serve angel food cake, gingerbread or fruit
instead of brownies, pound cake or chocolate cake.
Try to avoid
high-fat foods -- Fat in itself may not be the key to weight
control, as people once thought, but it does have high energy
density. If you cut back on foods that are high in fat, you'll
likely cut down on the calories. So use low-fat or skim milk
instead of whole milk or half-and-half. Skip the butter. Eat
your turkey without the skin. And cut away the visible fat from
Eat a healthy snack before a holiday
celebration -- Eating a snack helps to avoid overeating at a big
holiday dinner. Also, use smaller plates when they're available;
bigger plates encourage taking larger food portions and eating
larger quantities of food than small plates.
Illinois Department of Public Health
file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]