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Escaping the excess edibles


Traditionally, overeating at the holidays is viewed as an act of heroism in Wisconsin households. Just ask my cousin P.J. who’s jackknifed over a card table piled up with a flock of smeary Chinet plates. Muffled, transcendent sounds push out from behind his teeth as he rocks to-and-fro alongside the nativity set. He’s working out on his third, hideously KC-Masterpieced joint of ribs. My nephews, who aspire to his gastronomical prowess, egg him on with wild grunts and WWF-style fist pumping. Below his chin, in the splash zone, the wise men are playing keep-away with the baby Jesus.

Arrayed behind this surreal tableau are two dozen Nesco crock potsburbling with enough potato chowder and five-bean casserole to provision an NFL training camp for the entire pre-season. Friends and family spar competitively over who can whale down a fourth helping of cranberry marshmallow salad. I’m nursing a modest portion of tater-tot casserole and trying to behave myself. This is viewed as a sign of weakness by the menfolk and the poisonous stink-eye I’m getting from Grandma is too much to take. Clearly, I do not love her enough to power up on raw-beef-on-rye sandwiches then get serious with at least three helpings of her famous bacon rollum-ups. I have insulted everyone present. And this hurts me. It’s the holidays, after all.

Before you know it: Kapow! Presto-change-o, it’s New Year’s Eve and the only thing I can squeeze into for my big date at the Ponderosa champagne buffet is a pair of sweatpants and even those are showing fatigue cracks at the waistline. I have resolved to do better this year. Beginning three days prior to Thanksgiving I will observe a five-point program designed by Barb Troy, assistant professor and nutritionist at Marquette University:

1. In all things, balance; during this season of bounty, do not deny the flesh, tame it.

2. Be cognizant of portions. Just because the guy next to you never met a Christmas ham he didn’t like, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.

3. Physically remove yourself from the presence of food. No more playing canasta directly over the dessert cart.

4. Elevate your level of physical activity above normal parameters. Flapping your arms wildly with a chimichanga stuck sideways in your throat does not count toward this goal.

5. Find holiday activities that do not revolve around eating. In my family situation, this would restrict me to kicking over the chair of my cousin-in-law who is a vocal Chicago Bears fan
and drinking, drinking, drinking.