Yes, it is that time of year when diets and ALL good intentions go out the window.  So don’t be too hard on yourself; this Holiday phenomena applies to almost everyone.  Truth be said, the Holidays only come once a year, so enjoy them – and enjoy your favorite food traditions as well.

This month, I’m sending some simple suggestions your way, suggestions that may help you get through the Holidays unscathed.

FRIEND AND FOE

There are 2 hormones that regulate appetite: leptin and ghrelin.  Leptin is made by fat cells and helps suppress appetite. Ghrelin, on the other hand, increases appetite.  Ghrelin is released in the stomach and sends the hunger signal to the brain.  There is plenty of information on the internet about leptin and ghrelin, and the best sites to research these hormones are WebMD or www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/.  The Huffington Post also has a good article; you can check it out here.

But more importantly, a very convincing study, just published on December 15, 2015, demonstrates that fasting increases ghrelin in rats.  When rats were put on a restricted feeding schedule, they learned to eat more.  Why?  “They were helped by the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, according to new research from the University of Southern California.  Once the rats learned they had limited access to food, they increased their food intake until it doubled.  Over several days, meal times were restricted to a daily four-hour window, followed by 20 hours with no food. The hormone ghrelin allows the rats to reduce their feeling of fullness, so they are gradually able to eat more; an adaptive response to limited food access.”[1][2]

FASTING

So what’s the point?  Don’t fast for long periods before going to a party!  So many people starve themselves all day long because they want to indulge in the holiday feast served at parties.  Yet all the leading experts and famous dieticians are correct in recommending that you eat a small snack before going to a party.  But choose a snack that promotes satiety – that satisfied after-eating feeling.  Your snack should contain some complex carbohydrates (veggies), protein and fat.   For example, make yourself a wrap made with romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and carrot, chicken or tofu, and mayonnaise or healthy balsamic salad dressing.  You’re less likely to be the first in line at the buffet.

THINK HEALTHY

Take some of your favorite recipes and think of ways you can substitute healthier ingredients or alternate cooking methods.  Instead of making Fettuccini Alfredo, try something different.  Serve your pasta with a white wine broth and baked or grilled chicken instead of fried.  And for dessert, have a bowl of creamy vanilla Greek yogurt with dark chocolate sauce and chopped walnuts vs. a piece of chocolate cheesecake.

And again, take smaller portions – don’t fill your plate.  People who fill their plates, generally eat everything on it!

Bottom Line this Holiday Season – Think Healthy:champs

  1. Don’t fast for long periods before an event
  2. Eat smaller portions more often
  3. Replace with healthier substitutions

And remember, stop beating up on yourself!  “After all, tomorrow is another day!”  

Cheers!


 

[1] Rats with limited access to food eat more. (2015, December 16). MNT.
[2] http://elifesciences.org/content/4/e11190

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