3 Strategies to Fix Your Holiday Binge (and Prevent the Inevitable Weight Gain)
Just like clockwork, a few times every year we do a holiday binge. Stuffed and feeling fat, we swear that next time we’ll be more careful. Good idea, but I have three strategies to share just in case “careful” doesn’t happen.
Seems that our tradition of holiday eating really comes down to binge eating. Go to any grocery store and you’ll see the exhortations to buy every sorta food, many of which find themselves on the dining table come holiday time.
Bacchus would be pleased.
Not only is there a lot of food available during the holidays, much of it is the long-longed for savory stuff that we haven’t eaten since last year. The food choices are larger than usual. The food is prepared with more care than usual. Heck, people even bake desserts — how rare is that!
The result is a meeting between drooling appetite and ample opportunity that results in gluttony.
Those post-Epicurean self-flagellating talks you had with yourself last year about being more selective and parsimonious about what you eat quickly fade to an inaudible whisper. What was that about eating more slowly, resisting the third helping of mash potatoes, and only drinking two beers…?
No holiday binge this year, right?
With Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah fast approaching — among an assortment of holidays that will be celebrated all over the world during the next two months — now is an opportune time to make a plan to weather the storm of calories we’re about to face.
Wouldn’t it be mighty fine not to weigh more on Jan 1 than you do now?
It’s doable. You can do it and still have a good time. What you need is some preparation and specific actions.
The objective it to be able to avoid binge eating when every delectable food and drink slyly winks at you from their festive table perch, and to the extend you overeat, to take specific steps to nullify the unwanted weight gain.
Over the years, I’ve written three articles apropos to the topic of holiday binging… err… I mean, eating. Much of what I’m about to share with you is distilled from those three, which are:
I suggest you read each of the articles even though I will now extract the essence of each for your delight and edification.
Next up is how to perform each of these three strategies, and then I’ll suggest a bare-bones approach for those of you whom are unlikely to eat the whole enchilada, sorta speak. (Well, at least until feast day.)
Strategy #1: Minimize Insulin
You can diminish the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas by leveling blood sugar spikes that occur in response to eating foods with high sugar content, such as white, refined, non-complex (“simple”) carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.).
When the pancreas produces more insulin than the body can use, it becomes insulin-resistant. This then requires more insulin to do the same job of keeping blood sugar levels even. The high insulin level leads to an appetite that is out of control and the resulting weight gain gets concentrated in the most damaging part of the body — as visceral fat in (visceral) and around (subcutaneous) round the belly. Belly fat!
The aim here is to minimize insulin production by doing this:
- Make sure your first meal of the day on gluttony day contains protein and fiber. Aim for 30 grams of protein within a half hour of arising, and either mix fiber-rich food into that protein meal, or a supplement that contain fiber. The protein can be eggs, lean grass-fed meat or protein powder. The fiber can be legumes (lentil, pea, beans, chickpea, etc.) or something like flax seeds, chia seeds or psyllium husk powder.
- Before your binge meal ingest about four ounces of grapefruit juice, which has a flat-lining effect on blood glucose (blood sugar), or lemon water as described below.
- Drink citric juices during your binge meal.
- If you take the grapefruit or lemon juice without psyillum husk powder, swallow down supplements with the juice that help increase insulin sensitivity, such as “PAGG” .(The psyillum husk powder would absorb the active ingredients in the supplements resulting in less benefit.)
- Take PAGG. Tim Ferris of “4 hour” fame (4 hour work week, 4 hour body, 4 hour chef) recommends four supplements referred to as“PAGG” (links below):
- Policosanol, 20 – 25 mg
- Alpha-lipoic acid, 100 – 300 mg
- Green tea flavanols, 325 mg
- Garlic extract, 200 mg
Strategy #2: Eliminate The Consumed Food Quickly
When you’re eating high quality nutritious food, the aim is to absorb it. But when you’re over-eating and much of the food is crap, the aim it to get it out of the system quickly.
No, we’re not talking some bulimia action here. Yes, the toilet is involved, but we’ll be sitting upon it, not kneeling before it.
To instigate a focused toilet-seeking reaction, consume 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine (one to two cups of coffee) or 16 ounces of Yerba Mate Tea, which contains theobromine, which among other things, is a poop-producing alkaloid.
If you require additional inspiration, you may also make this drink concoction:
- Psyllium husk powder ( a tablespoon) +
- Apple juice (four ounces) +
- Water (four ounces)…
… and drink it about one-half hour prior to the binge meal.
Strategy #3: Perform Brief, Multi-muscle Contraction Throughout the Binge
Even briefly exercising your large muscles brings glucose transporter type 4 (“GLUT-4”) to the surface of muscle cells, opening more “gates” for the calories to flow into and be utilized as energy.
That description might make a scientist cringe, but what you should take away from this is that there’s someplace useful for the glucose (sugar from all the simple carbs you’re binging on) to go, like to fuel contracting muscles, rather than building your midsection’s muffin top.
- Squats, 60 to 90 seconds should suffice (no weight but you),
- Push-ups (on your knees if regular ones are too hard), and
- Wall presses (feet three feet or so away from the wall, face it, hands on it, press chest to and from it).
Do the exercises a few minutes prior to and 90 minutes after the binging. If you binge both at lunch and dinner during your Holiday extravaganza, do this twice.
The Bare Bones Approach
If the “strategies” enumerated above make your head spin, consider a bare bones approach. Less effective, but better than doing nothing.
Here are the bare bones steps, just two:
- One hour before your holiday meal, eat some celery with peanut or almond butter on it. Three or four stalks, one tablespoon of your favorite nut butter on each should do the trick. If this is unpalatable, eat a whole avocado. The idea here is to get some satiation going by consuming healthy fats.
- One-half hour before your holiday meal, shake together eight ounces of lemon water with psyllium husk powder, and then follow that with another eight ounces of water several minutes later.
The idea behind the lemon water is that it’s very cleansing (flushes out toxins, stimulates liver, enhances enzyme function), aides digestion, and contains pectin that help with weight loss.
The idea behind the psyllium husk powder is that it expands in your stomach, thus helping to make you feel full, or at least will take the edge of your humongous pre-holiday hunger.
The idea behind the nuts and avocado is that they contain a lot of healthy fat that will help fill you up before the big meal.
You may have nuts, avocados and lemons, but it’s unlikely that you have psyllium husk powder lurking somewhere in your cupboard, so make sure you get some prior to the holiday meal. (It’s available in most health food stores, and I’ve provided a link below.)
Good luck with moderating your consumption of all those delicious, if not healthy, food and drink.
Over and out.