Cooks pack on calories w/ pre-dinner nibbling

LOS ANGELES Experts tell us it's possible to eat 3,000 calories for our /*Thanksgiving*/ meal. Keep in mind that's more than most of us eat in one day, let alone one meal. But do you know who's really in trouble? The cook. They have a tendency to eat dinner before they sit down to dinner.

"Nuts and dried fruit, like bread cubes. Maybe a sip of wine," says Jackie Keller, owner of Nutrifit, a healthy catering company.

Keller says those little sips and bites don't register with your brain and body. It's as if they didn't happen because you're so focused on the big dinner at hand.

"There's this unconscious behavior, these patterns that come out, like eating," says Keller.

Those calories rack up. Do the math: An uneven piece of cheese, 65 calories. Five toasted nuts, 49 calories. A couple of bread cubes while making stuffing, 15 calories. A handful of trail mix of dried fruit and nuts, 90 calories. Licking frosting off the spatula, about 75.

And when that bird comes out of the oven, a quick piece of skin adds about 75 fat calories.

What's also common is having wine during that kitchen time, which can be a couple hundred calories, due to oversized glasses.

So before you sit down, you've eaten nearly 500 calories.

But Keller has some well-thought-out solutions. Chew gum to keep from popping food in your mouth. Have a low-sugar breakfast so you are less inclined to snack on things you'll eat later anyway.

And when it comes to drinking?

"If you drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol or wine that you're going to have, you're going to drink half as much wine or alcohol," says Keller. "The truth is there is only so much liquid you can hold."

And of course she loves this rule: When you eat more, you move more.

"Add a walk. The dog needs it, you need it, everybody needs it," says Keller. "Take the time to add in a 10-minute walk."

Stand instead of sit. Take stairs, add small bursts of exercise.

"Just that 10 minutes will add up at the end of the week to over an hour of exercise," says Keller.

Not only that, if you start your day with movement, you'll feel better.

"You're starting the day off in a healthy manner, and there's something psychologically beneficial to doing that," says Keller.

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