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Stuffing yourself on Thanksgiving can add pounds

I asked my husband what I should write about for Thanksgiving week and his immediate response was, “the turkeys in our lives.” After I stopped laughing I decided to focus on the real Thanksgiving turkey.

To stuff yourself or not to stuff yourself on Thanksgiving, that is the question.

There’s a part of me that says, “Oh what the heck, it’s only once a year.” Then the responsible-me remembers how miserable I feel when I overeat. Plus, my husband and I have Thanksgiving, Christmas, both of our birthdays and our anniversary from mid November to New Year’s Eve. So we can careen from one reason to overdo it to another and find ourselves on January 1 feeling like stuffed turkeys.

To counter this, in early January every year for two days, we eat nothing but apples. We purge ourselves of all of the stuff we’ve eaten since my husband’s birthday. It feels good. I’ve been doing it since the late 1960s.

But I also consciously remind myself throughout the holiday season how uncomfortable it feels to overindulge. Plus I don’t want the added weight to add up over the years, which would require that I shop for new clothes, something I hate to do.

Remembering Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean phrase, “Moderation in all things,” can help, too.

Think of this immoderate estimate of how many calories the average American eats on Thanksgiving Day:
* More than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat! (Source: Caloric Control Council)
* The Council finds that most of these calories come from all-day snacking in front of the TV watching parades and football games.
* FYI: one pound equals about 3,500 calories.

The National Institutes of Health and the Medical University of South Carolina found that the average person’s weight gain over the holidays is just over one pound. So, it’s OK to eat anything and everything you want since one pound is not much, right?

But the researchers also found that 85% of study participants still carried that extra pound one year later. If you gain and retain an extra pound each year they’ll add up. Duh!

Striving for balance and moderation is usually good advice no matter the concern. So if you eat too much lefse (the Norwegian delicacy I make for my family) over the holidays try making it last longer than just for the holidays. If you drink too much alcohol maybe you should consider setting a limit on how much you allow yourself. If you feel uncomfortable when you overeat why not use a small dinner plate and fill it only once?

So, what, if anything, will you do to avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving? Whichever choices you make, make them conscious ones. Identify what would define moderation for you. Then over the holiday weekend and for the next month keep an eye on yourself (without obsessing) and set appropriate limitation on your excesses.

Above all, enjoy Thanksgiving and all that it represents.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.