Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give Thanks But Don’t Overindulge

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s time to give thanks for what we have, spend time with those we love, and resist the urge to overindulge. If you want to avoid the creeping weight gain that often accompanies the holiday season, here is a little food for thought.

A Wall Street Journal article entitled “Bulging Waist Carries Risk” described a study that followed 360,000 men and women in nine European countries for about a decade. Researchers tracked the participants’ body mass index, or BMI, as well as their waist circumference and the ratio of their waist and hip measurements.

Researchers discovered that even patients with a normal BMI had an increased risk of death if they had a large waist. Among study participants, normal weight males with waists measuring 40 inches or greater were more than twice as likely to die as those with waists of 34 inches or less; normal weight females who had waists of 35 inches or greater were 79 percent more likely to die than those with waists measuring 28 inches or less.

Researchers also found that for each two-inch increase in waist size in participants with any BMI score, the risk of death increased by 17 percent for men and 13 percent for women. Similar results were found when researchers compared waist-to-hip ratios. Yikes! That is sobering news. I can hear the tape measures snapping open, so here are some tips to keep your waistline from expanding this holiday season:
  • Make a commitment to yourself not to gain weight. While this sounds logical, making a formal commitment (writing it down where you can see it) will help you to keep your goal in sight.
  • Stick to your usual exercise plan. If this means “none” for some of you, this is a good time to get out and take a walk. Most people will attend parties and gatherings complete with food and drink; exercise is a great way to burn extra calories.
  • Keep your portions small and avoid going back for seconds. Many celebrations will center around food – that’s OK, just don’t go overboard.
  • Weigh yourself and take a waist measurement weekly. This will help to keep you focused.
  • Remember the true reason for this season. Give thanks for all of the good things, both big and small, in your life. Spend time with people you love. Focus on the joy the season brings, rather than the sweets and treats that are everywhere.

--Rosemarie Lembo James, RD, CNSD, LD/N
Clinical Director of Nutrition Services

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