Jan McBarron says December is the worst month to try and lose weight, but it can be done.
"It is important that you enjoy the holidays but there is a healthy way to do it, a way in which you are not putting on pounds and, maybe, losing some," said the doctor who has operated Georgia Bariatrics in Columbus since 1987.
Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with obesity.
McBarron and her husband, Duke Liberatore, owner of Peachtree Natural Foods, have hosted the syndicated radio show "Duke and the Doctor" that McBarron said is carried in about 125 markets since 1993.
"Nobody wants to feel deprived during this time of year, but December is not a license to eat," McBarron said about all the party food available.
It is during the holidays that people will encourage you to snack.
"They are eating a lot, and they want you to eat as well. They are sabotaging your diet," McBarron said. "Never tell anyone, 'I'm trying to lose weight,' because they will say 'Oh, come on and just have a little.' Instead, tell them that the food looks good but you are full."
McBarron said for a person to lose weight they can't say they need to lose weight but must say that they want to lose weight.
McBarron said three important ingredients in the recipe for losing weight are water, walking and fruit.
"Everyone should drink at least 48 ounces of water each day," she said. "That is not soda, coffee or milk. It's water.
"Everyone should take a brisk walk uninterrupted for 10 minutes each day," she said. That is because it helps digestion, improves circulation and flexibility, as well, as burning calories.
"A short walk each day is better than two 30-minute workouts during the week."
She said everyone should eat fruit each day because it promotes fat burning. "Fruit is a good source of fiber and takes away sugar cravings," McBarron said.
The brighter the color of a fruit or vegetable, the more nutrients it contains.
She also suggests eating a handful of nuts regularly. She said about an ounce of nuts provide fiber, protein and a satisfied feeling.
McBarron said to select three days in the month on which you are going to splurge and eat more, but that doesn't mean binge eating.
At a party, put food on a plate rather than standing by the table and continuing to pick up items off the buffet. "That way you can keep track of what you are eating," McBarron said.
Don't think with your taste buds or look at a food item and imagine how delicious it tastes. Instead, she said, "Think about how many hands without hand sanitizer may have touched the food. That may make it less appealing."
As for the meal, she said forget what your mother told you. "Don't clean your plate. Leave some food," she said.
She suggested drinking water and having some fruit before going to a party to cut back on your appetite.
Besides being very fattening, alcohol stimulates hunger, McBarron said.
She said if one is going to drink alcohol, the best items for your diet are wine and beer. She said any alcohol that is mixed with soda or cream is definitely trouble. And the worst? "That's eggnog," she said.
McBarron noted that certain items that stimulate hunger are fried chicken, French fries, sweet tea, soda and diet soda.
Another is chewing gum. "Chewing, no matter what it is, tells the stomach, 'Here comes food.' Then, when no food comes, the hunger pains begin," she said.
She said a person's biggest and best meal should be breakfast and the smallest should be dinner. It makes sense, she said, because the body burns more fat while a person is awake. Daylight hours are the best time to eat because the body has an internal clock that burns fat better when a person's metabolism is at its peak. When it gets dark, the body thinks it is time to sleep. A person's system slows down and burns less fat.
"Some people say they can't eat a big breakfast because they are not hungry. That is usually because they have had a big meal at night," McBarron said.
Other tips include using olive oil and vinegar instead of dressing on salads, eating baked or steamed food instead of fried, and avoiding eating while doing other chores such as working at the computer, watching television or driving.
She said 80 percent of the calories burned are through passive exercise. Get up and walk around while at work.
"Everyone should take a minimum of 10,000 steps per day," she said. "If parents would get their children a pedometer instead of a cellphone, they would be much healthier."