11/27/2010 01:01 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Loneliness of the Holiday Dieter

Eat, drink and be merry!

That's what the apostle, Paul, preached in the first century, and it's what many of us will be doing over the next five weeks.

It's worth keeping in mind, though, that there's a scary second part to this age-old saying: "for tomorrow you die."

This subject is especially noteworthy now since we're at the time of the year again when we all have a tendency to eat and drink more than usual. And it all started a few days ago on Thanksgiving when we began devouring turkey and the accompanying treats.

So some cautionary words may be worth heeding. For example, an official of the National Institute of Health notes that Americans, on average, will tack on between 5 and 8 pounds because of increased eating, drinking and partying during the holidays. "A lot of people don't realize it, but many of them may be flirting with a trip to the cemetery because of their expanding stomachs," he says.

"We've entered a major junk food period," says nationally known nutrition expert Debi Davis, founder of Fit America, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based company specializing in health and wellness programs. Unfortunately, she says, it comes at a point in time when more than a third of all Americans, including the kids, are either obese or overweight. In brief, she explains, it's a significant risk period for the bingers and guzzlers because a heavier frame heightens the chance of diabetes, heart attack and a stroke and it exposes you to higher level of medical costs in your senior years.

For some thoughts on the do's and don'ts of holiday dining and how to stick around longer than most and maybe join an ultra-exclusive group of 70,490 Americans, who, as of September, had reached 100 years or older, Davis, a slim, fetching blonde who shed 85 pounds in 1991, has come up with a checklist of 10 ways to fight holiday weight gains so you don't wind up the year looking like Mr. or Ms. Santa without the suit. Here's the list:

1. Drink at least 64 ounces (or eight glasses) of water a day. This will help flush out the additional fats you may be consuming and keep your body hydrated during a period when we tend to drink more alcohol.

2. Fill up on protein-rich foods (such as chicken, turkey and lean meats). Also, eat fruits and vegetables whenever possible and try to avoid salads with heavy mayonnaise.

3. Sample desserts. If you like sweets, nibble on a variety rather than eating an entire serving of one.

4. Never attend a party hungry. Eat a substantial lunch or protein-rich snack before party time so you are not so hungry that you binge on high-calorie chips, dips and hors d'oeuvres.

5. Limit your alcohol consumption. Wine is a better choice than mixed drinks because the alcohol and sugar/calorie content is lower. It is also much better than beer because beer is full of extra carbohydrates.

6. Exercise whenever possible. Walk instead of driving. Park far away from stores while doing your holiday shopping.

7. Don't keep holiday snack treats handy at home. Eat treats only when you go out.

8. Eat regular meals. Schedules are always crazy during the holidays and eating tends to be irregular. Try and keep meals as lean and as well balanced as possible.

9. Take your vitamins! Nutritional support is important when you have more obligations than usual and are over-stressed. Take them twice a day so give your body around-the-clock protection.

10. Anytime you are full and not hungry, don't eat.

Unfortunately, Davis notes, statistics show that weight loss, invariably the number one new year's resolution, is thwarted and forgotten by Feb. 1. Her wrapup thoughts: Holiday risks abound when it comes to your waistline. Controlling your eating and guzzling before New Year's Day could make 2011 a happier new year medically and financially; it also might help save your life.

In addition, an NIH study has concluded something we all pretty much know--the thinner we are the greater the opportunity for advancement in the business world. The institute figures a leaner frame increases your chances by about 70% of a job promotion if you're competing during this period against someone who is visibly overweight or obese.

The bottom line: Subject yourself -- which virtually no one will do at this time of the year -- to the loneliness of being a holiday dieter, rather than a non-stop eater and drinker. And maybe you too can discover what it's like to be a centenarian (100 years or older). At 100, though, no need to be a holiday dieter any longer since only one out of 50,000 centenarians make it to 115.

What do you think? E-mail me at