Don't let holidays be excuse to overeat

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On a number of occasions, my wife, a registered nurse and nutrition consultant, has made the remark to me that it seems as if the American culture frequently uses food as a "co-focus" of every holiday or celebration. In other words, the event becomes the hall pass to eat.

While this observation might not apply to every one of my readers, when one stops to think about it, many of us ride the coattails of either a recognized event or an event we create ourselves to eat, eat more or eat incorrectly.

With Thanksgiving now in your rear-view mirror, many of you realize that you are going to have to make a choice — there must be victory over (food) volume.

From my perspective, Thanksgiving becomes the formal kickoff for all of us to become vulnerable to overconsumption. Let's take inventory of these classic days or even weeks where we are the permissible judge and compassionate jury at approving countless calories — Thanksgiving (several days), holiday season up to New Year's (14 days), New Year's (two days), Superbowl Sunday (one or two days), Valentine's Day (one day), Easter (one day), Cinco de Mayo (one day), birthday (one day), Independence Day (three-four days).

I'm not going to get hung up in the math, but I think we all understand that it is human nature to bundle all these events into "permissible" consumption categories. Keep in mind that I have added more than one day to some events simply for the reason that long after the event is over, there remain the sacred leftovers or the office cakes and cookies that lead up to the main event.

If we add to this the restaurant trips , empty calories, dinner invitations, and the countless culinary temptations we all submit to at one time or another, it is no wonder that the U.S. population is developing a reputation as having the largest girth on earth.

Now that we have initiated the culinary kickoff of celebrations this year, don't wait until the New Year to make change -- start now. I've never understood why people wait until the "New Year" to start improved lifestyles unless it is yet another permission to postpone discipline. More simply put, why should you wait until later, when there is something you can start fixing now?

As the holiday season begins, I offer to you the nutrition advice I have always given my clients. Begin with compromise in halving your usual servings regardless of what the specific "serving" is. Focus on filling your body with the protein (in most cases a meat source) instead of the simple sugars that are disguised in starchy foods made with white flour. Eat complex carbohydrates (vegetable first, fruits second) as a way of filling your body so that breads, noodles and fats just don't have room to reserve space in your stomach.

Lastly, my most valuable piece of advice is to engage the same level of discipline that has made you successful in other endeavors of your life. Food does not need to be any different. Eat to fullness, not misery, and learn to push the plate away.

Bill Victor is the owner of Victor Fitness System Professional Fitness Trainers, Flashpoint Athletic Speed & Agility Specialists, and Performance Nutrition Consultants. He can be reached at victorfitsystems@gmail.com and online at http://theflashpoint.org and http://VictorFitnessSystems.com.