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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dealing with Holiday Feasting

Tis the season for Christmas lunches, gift baskets, chocolates, cocktails, corporate dinners and family get- togethers.  How does one not gain weight during this time of feasting?

Here are several strategies to cope with holiday feasting:

- Portion control.  Eat what you like, just eat smaller portions of everything.  Stay away from wheat products  and refined sugar but pile on the turkey. Alcohol in moderation.

- Skip meals.  If you have a big dinner that day, just eat very lightly throughout the day leading up to the event.  Drink coffees, teas or water without milk or sugar leading up the meal.  You might be surprised to discover that occasionally depriving yourself of food actually down-regulates your appetite.  This is method is called Intermittent Fasting.

Now if you're wondering whether skipping meals or fasting is healthy, read this as a jumping point to more research.  Isn't periodic caloric restriction harmful instead of feeding ad libitum? On the contrary, all the evidence we have so far indicates that periodic caloric restriction prolongs life, decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimers, is anti-aging, anti-cancer and mitigates against neuro-degenerative diseases.

- Eat one day, don't eat the next day aka Alternate Day Fasting. It works for some people although you may feel hungry on the day you skip meals. If you do ADF and feel hungry on the skip day, just eat a small meal when you need to.  The big picture here is lowering your overall caloric intake measured over several days replicating a feast or famine mode.

You don't have to put on weight during the holidays. You do have to take control of your eating habits and be responsible for what you put into your body.


Harvey's take on holiday eating.

So many parties and so much food !!!  We can't give up right now and put our diet in the New Year's resolution again !!

I am going to have at least 8 to 10 parties in Dec. I am sure there are tons of good food. I can't just sit there watching others eat. Its rude to the hosts. I would feel insulted if I was the host and my guests did not eat. Anyways my will power is so weak that when I see food, I have to eat. I am working on my weakness.

Intermittent fasting is the way to deal with feasting. I plan to do a few 24 hours fasting in between parties. If you choose, you can do 24 to 48 hours of fasting after all the feasts. That would kick start your fitness program again. I consider it winning a small battle when I complete a 24 hour fast.

Don't worry. Fasting won't slow down your metabolism if it is not longer than 72 hours. In fact, your metabolism will go up when you fast less than 72 hours. Only prolonged fasting puts the body into starving mode which in turn slows down your metabolism. This makes sense to me when we apply the Paleo theory to this reaction. When the body senses a lack of food, it will initially use its reserve to give the host a boost in order to have a higher chance of getting food. But after  72 hours the body probably gives up on expending energy to find food and starts to conserve energy. That's when your metabolism goes down. As long as you keep your fasting to less than 72 hours, a slowing metabolism isn't going to be a problem.

So feast-and-famine is the way to survive the holiday season's parties.


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