Don't Gain Weight Over the
It Will Do Your Heart Good
ATLANTA -- If the words "plump" and "stuffed" and "full of goodies"
make you think of holiday turkeys and buffet tables, you might be better
off thinking about your waist line. Several studies show that pounds
packed on over the holidays are rarely lost. In fact, excess toasting
to the New Year and gobbling goodies may be reasons Americans are getting
fatter and staying fatter. According to two Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention studies, Americans are now heavier than ever --- and
nearly a third of us are now classified as obese.
"That's very troubling because
being overweight significantly raises the risk for heart disease and
other chronic health problems including hypertension, diabetes and some
forms of cancer," says Laurence Sperling, MD, who directs the Emory
Heart Center's HeartWise Risk Reduction Program.
Does that mean you have to
pass up all holiday treats? Thankfully, the answer is no, according
to Neil F. Gordon, MD, PhD, President of INTERVENT USA, an individualized
lifestyle management program which provides one-on-one counseling on
weight control through the Emory Heart Center in Atlanta, as well as
via the Web (www.interventusa.com) and by telephone. "Of course, people
want to enjoy the holidays. And the food at this time of year brings
back wonderful memories. Simply depriving yourself isn't going to work,
" he says. "Instead, you need to plan in advance how you will deal with
parties and other healthy eating pitfalls."
Gordon cites weight control
behavioral strategies that have been successfully used by INTERVENT
USA. "Drinking adequate amounts of water will help you feel full, too.
You can taste everything but focus on smaller potions. Fill your buffet
plate with fruits and vegetables first and you'll have less space for
the higher calorie foods. And make the decision to drink less alcohol,
which tends to make us less able to control what we want to do," Gordon
suggests. "Volunteer to bring a favorite holiday dish to a party, but
prepare it in a healthy way with less fat and sugar. And make an agreement
with yourself ahead of time that you will not allow someone to cajole
you into eating more than you should - be pleasant but decline. "
Another important holiday
weight control tip: be physically active. "Increasing your activity
in the winter months can potentially make a big difference in whether
you gain weight or not," says Emory Heart Center preventive cardiologist
Dr. Sperling also advises
weighing yourself every morning. "If you start gaining back three to
five pounds, you need to get realistic about what you're doing and watch
your food choices and portions and activity levels," he explains. "Regular
physical activity is key to keeping weight off. So look for opportunities
over the holidays be more active - park your car farther away from the
mall door than you have to so you walk further, for example. Take a
break from a party and walk around the block. Just a brisk walk will
rev your metabolism and keep you burning more calories for four to six
The Emory Heart Center
is comprised of all cardiology services and research at Emory University
Hospital (EUH), Emory Crawford Long Hospital (ECLH) Carlyle Fraser Heart
Center, the Andreas Gruentzig Cardiovascular Center of Emory University
and the Emory Clinic. Ranked in the top ten of U.S. News & World Report's
annual survey of the nation's best Heart Centers, the Emory Heart Center
has a rich history of excellence in all areas of cardiology - including
education, research and patient care. It is also internationally recognized
as one of the birthplaces of modern interventional cardiology.