Trim, or trimmings?

November 24, 2005

First, the good news: Most people don't really gain five or 10 pounds during the holiday-feasting season that begins today. Now the bad: The little bit they do gain remains with them, on average, forever.

The average U.S. adult gains 1.06 pounds between the fall and spring seasons, according to the National Institutes of Health. Measured the next fall, they are on average four-tenths of a pound to 1.8 pounds heavier than they were the previous year. Year over year, holiday after holiday, the pounds add up, incrementally ballooning the figure and increasing the risks to the body and the nation's health-insurance and work-productivity rates.

What are Americans, as deeply committed to being of good cheer as they are to their own and their national economy's well-being, to do? Bet you already know the answer.

Beans. OK, not just beans, but more beans than potato chips. More beans, and other vegetable-based proteins, than meat, in some cases, according to a real-food eating plan found successful by Johns Hopkins and Harvard medical schools. Even the traditional Thanksgiving meal, with trimmings, could be less an indulgence; one could easily swap out that sweet potato-marshmallow confection for a bean-based one, avoid the turkey skin and trim some of the fat in the gravy and stuffing. Combine that with experts' "talk more, and you'll eat less" advice and revelers could easily end up on the short end of the scale.

To remain there, and to make up for past indulgence, though, involves more than just intake. One must increase the body's output through exercise - and more than just jumping off the couch after a fumble during the football game on television and much more than taking that post-turkey catnap. Take a step or two outside, maybe clear the sidewalk while you're at it.

And build up an appetite for pie. Just a little piece. Just this once.

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