Kate Leinweber, B.Sc R.H.N
Sometimes I eat too much.
This is the season of eating. The season where it is acceptable to binge regularly. It is the holiday season. Whether you celebrate 8 days of Hanukkah and enjoy endless sofganiot (jelly donuts), or from mid-November onwards get caught up in Christmas parties with too many cocktails, dinners packing your stomach to the brim, and of course that constantly supply of delectably sweet treats. This time of year is a time where over indulging is commonplace and binging is acceptable. It does not make me feel too good in the long term, so I’ve devised some tactics to help avoid the regret of over-eating. But first, of course, my personal story with over eating.
At different times in my life I’ve avoided sugar, gluten and dairy. I’ve restricted cooked food, raw food, meat, carbohydrates and fat. The holidays and celebratory times were always difficult when I was trying to stay away from some food or another.
Butter Tarts, Ginger Snaps, Sugar Cookies, or Shortbread; you know what your sweet treat is. That one food you can’t keep out of your mouth. That calls your name and feels oh so good going down. For me it is butter tarts.
My Mother’s butter tart recipe, like none other, is so delicious I cannot stop eating them. I eat them until my head is buzzing, my vision slightly blurred and I feel like I might throw up. Perhaps someone with more control would stop there acknowledging their fullness signals. But me? Oh no. I have a few olives or pickles, something salty to counter the sweet flavor, and before I know it I’m heading for another round.
Can anyone relate to this?
Where did I go wrong? The extreme restriction.
It has been shown that calorie restriction results in food obsession and binge eating. The Minnesota Starvation Study conducted by Dr Ancel Benjamin Keys in the 1940’s demonstrated The Starvation Syndrome. Participants followed a calorie restricted diet of 1600 calories a day. This pales in comparison to some calorie restrictive diets of today and still produced psychological symptoms such as poor concentration, anxiety, depression, hysteria and a pre-occupation with food that lead to hoarding and binging at meal times.
Restricting anything from calories, to sugar, to bread to cheese backfires in overindulgence.
This is a natural process since the body is undernourished, and needs nutrients to re-build. The holidays are full of sweet treats, celebratory drinks, and huge meals. The over consumption of food can lead to enzyme depletion, liver congestion, imbalanced intestinal flora and weight gain. The over consumption of sugary foods results in continued nutrient deficiency, and hence repeated instances of binging while the body attempts to regain nutrient. When the participants of The Starvation Study were allowed to eat as much as they wanted they ate up to 4000 calories a day. We might expect to hear that all of these subjects became obese with this kind of eating behavior, but within 9 months all participants had returned to their natural starting weight. This shows that with time balance is attained when eating natural home-cooked non-processed foods.
This is the time of year to be sensitive to your binging habits, and to look for the restriction that feeds the binge.
How to Avoid Over Eating This Holiday Season:
1. Practice Mindful Eating.
Take time to smell your food, feel it in your fingers, chew your food completely feeling the texture on your tongue, and notice the different tastes throughout each bite. Take a breath (that’s a full inhale and exhale) before moving onto the next bite. This starts the digestive process and ensures we will notice our signal of being full.
Allow yourself some treats over time and tell yourself that you will have a little bit more later. Studies have shown that when we allow ourselves a treat and choose to have some later the total amount consumed will be less than if binged on all at once.
3. Eat Before the Party.
When you have a party to go to in the evening make sure to eat through the day to avoid that “I’m Starving” scenario, and eat something before heading to the event. We have all been to a party where dinner is served later than expected. This can result in too many drinks, endless snacking on sugary treats and the eventual Pig-Out when dinner is finally served.
4. Snack Regularly.
When we get busy and forget to eat our blood sugar crashes. When this happens we will have a sugar craving, and will pretty much eat anything in any amount. Snacking every 2 hours will make sure you avoid that crazy state and be able to make sane choices about the foods you want to eat at a party.
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