Stuffing yourself at Thanksgiving isn't
Home News Tribune Online 11/24/05THE
Oh, the holiday temptations: hors d'oeuvres, stuffing and gravy
with the turkey, candied yams, pies, chocolates,
Between the extra calories and disrupted routines,
it's easy to pack on pounds and strain on your heart, doctors warn.
They advise moderation, choosing foods carefully and getting plenty
"Don't destroy your Thanksgiving, but make as
many good choices as possible and take a walk after your big meal,"
recommends Dr. Arthur Agatston, a University of Miami cardiologist
and author of "The South Beach Diet."
Agatston said nibbling
on healthy foods during the day is better than gorging at dinnertime
on Turkey Day. Also, people can limit their total calories over the
day by eating a nutritious low-calorie, low-sugar breakfast, with
foods such as eggs, Canadian bacon, a
high-fiber cereal or breakfast bar, low-fat yogurt or
"When you miss meals and your blood sugar drops," he
said yesterday, "it causes cravings."
Regular meals and
healthy snacks — fresh vegetables, low-fat cheese or fruit — can
prevent that and people then eat less calories, several studies have
shown, according to Agatston.
He said people must avoid wide
swings in blood sugar. Eating foods that rapidly convert to sugar,
such as cookies and other refined carbohydrates, pushes up blood
sugar rapidly. The blood-sugar level then falls within a couple of
hours, not the four or five normal after eating high-fiber
unprocessed foods, and the low blood-sugar level triggers more
cravings and eating.
It's also crucial to limit the portion
size, particularly at Thanksgiving dinner, given that most Americans
eat more calories than they burn most days, said Dr. Muhamed Saric,
a cardiologist at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
On Thanksgiving, "it's even more food and even
less exercise from the already-bad pattern that they had before," he
said, noting that eating slower and conversing at meals leads people
to eat less.
With people eating more and drinking more
high-calorie alcoholic beverages over the holidays, Saric said, they
actually need more exercise. He advises squeezing in physical
activity a few times a day, from parking well away from stores and
taking stairs instead of escalators to dancing and after-meal walks.
Alcoholic drinks should be limited to a couple a day because bigger
amounts push up blood pressure, bring more empty calories and, at
high levels, can damage the liver, pancreas and stomach.
Stephen Siegel, a New York University Medical Center cardiologist,
said lack of exercise is at least as much of a problem as overeating
during the holidays. Besides burning calories, he noted, exercise
reduces stress and helps people deal with holiday depression.