READ BEFORE YOU EAT

Tips to Avoid the Holiday Pounds By Shelika Baez

thanksgiving_dinnerThe Holidays have finally arrived and soon we will be emptying our bank accounts and tipping the scales over with those extra pounds we gained. But, before we put "weight loss" as a New Year resolution, there is still time to prevent putting on the pounds during "Cookie Season."

We spoke with Certified Athletic Trainer Carlos Gual at the University of Maryland for some tips to prevent us from falling into the overeating trap before it's too late.

First cardinal rule,

Eat Normally. "Starving yourself is about the WORST thing you can do," explains Gual. "The human body is wired for survival. When your body does not get nourishment your body starts to rely on itself. Once you finally eat your body is taking everything that you consume, transforming it to fat and restocking its fat supply."

Stop eating with your eyes. "Just because something looks delicious doesn't mean you need more of it. The flavor doesn't enhance with every bite. Take a sample of it and move on," advises Gual.

Eat slowly. "Chemically there's a reaction that happens in the body after it has been eating for about 20 minutes. This reaction signals the brain that the stomach is full and that its time to stop. If you eat slower you will have consumed less food by the time you reach 20 minutes."

Get moving. Whether it is volunteering in your community, playing touch football with your family or merely dancing in your living room. Don't sit still after eating so many calories. It takes about two hours to fully digest a normal meal and being sedentary only allows for fat storage.

The only way to avoid looking like Santa or Mrs. Claus in your Holiday portraits is to continue being active and eating well-balanced meals all year around.

If you make anything your motto this Thanksgiving, it should be this: "Thanksgiving Day is just that. A day. It isn't a four-day weekend. Enjoy Thursday and get back to your diet the day after. The same goes for the holidays. They are just a DAY- not a month vacation from your responsibilities to your body." Carlos Gual, ATC is the assistant Athletic Trainer for the University of Maryland, College Park, MD.