Beating The Holiday Binge   



Beating The Holiday Binge

 

It's that time of the year where we are in holiday mode and parties abound. Often we throw common sense out the window and eat and drink more than we should.

Top Wellness Health bands together some sensible tips to help you stay on course this year and ring in the New Year unscathed.

It's the season to be jolly, goes the standard cliché this time of the year. The kids are on their long holiday break before the new school year begins, and so are we, for long stretches of the time. Plus there's the New Year celebrations and the general run up to it that all participate in with gusto.

PERMANENT BAGGAGE

But this is also the season where we seem to do everything in excess - especially when it comes to eating. It's so much easier to succumb to the temptation to cut loose and gobble and rely on the old standby, the New Year Resolution, to lose the weight we will inevitably gain.

But there's bad news. Studies indicate that the weight we, gain during the holidays - approximately a pound (though those that are already overweight tend to gain more) - is typically not lost. So says the New England Journal of Medicine. Since the average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, this means that much of the midlife weight we gain, can be attributed to holiday eating.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You can literally have your cake and eat it too without having to suffer the ignominy of buttons popping afterwards, if you care to follow a few savvy guidelines:

Recognize your trigger foods. These are foods that have high abuse potential and can lead to overeating. Increase your awareness of your personal trigger foods and give them a wide berth.

Manage your environment. Weight Watchers' research indicates we tend to overeat simply because the food is there. "Recognize, Remove and Replace sources of temptation," they say. Mental rehearsing helps. Imagine an upcoming event that you know will be challenging and rehearse in your mind how you will approach the food and fill your plate with 3/4 healthy choices and 1/4 indulgence items, these experts suggest.

Don't stop exercising. The break from routine during this period often makes it easy for us to put our exercise routine on hold. That's a big no-no. Find time to fit in a few push-ups or abdominal exercises at the very least. Alternatively, play with the kids or simply take a short stroll in the garden or neighborhood playground. Exercise helps digestion and keeps those cravings at bay, so remember to keep moving.

Never abstain to eat later. Don't under-eat the whole day, just so you can overeat at a party. As my mother says, we are not camels. Binge eating does a number on your metabolism that is bad news for your body.

Watch your portions. Dieticians will tell you, if you can keep portion sizes under control, you can still enjoy a feast over the holidays without encountering its first cousin, the ugly bulge, post holidays. Choosing a small plate to eat off is one good trick that does wonders when it comes to portion control.

Become a holiday diva. If you are a female binger, change course completely. Indulge in luxurious body pampering this season. Treat yourself to sumptuous bubble baths, spa treatments, facials and pedicures and team it up with bold , high-gloss red lipstick. The logic goes that this will curtail your tendency to binge since you are taking all that care (and money) to look and feel good sans food.

RESPONSIBLE DRINKING

Long before ancient Egyptians begin raising a beer in honor of the god Osiris, we humans have thrashed around in search of a hangover relief from having imbibed a tad too much drink from our festive revelries.

Outer Mongolians reportedly have feasted on pickled sheep eyeballs in tomato juice for comfort, whilst cattle ropers in the Old West went one better and sipped brewed tea from rabbit dung, so they say. Russians meanwhile, have been known to drip vodka over fatty sausages into a tumbler and then drink it.

AIM FOR PREVENTION, NOT A CURE

The cures are many but their efficacy is suspect and perhaps boils down to blind faith. As Dr Jason D. Rosenberg at John Hopkins University in the USA avers, even physicians cannot agree on what causes a hangover, let alone cure it. But as he puts it, "There's the truth and there's the larger truth. The truth is conventional remedies probably don't work. The larger truth is that if you think they do, it makes all the difference.

However, if we aim to avoid a hangover rather than try and treat one, then we stand on far firmer ground. There are some eminently sensible steps we can all take to ensure we drink responsibly enough to enjoy the festivities and still wake up on New Year's day minus the dreaded symptoms of a hangover. 

For a start, never drink on an empty stomach. Before you head for a party consume a glass of milk or milk thistle (a herbal product available at most pharmacies that assists your liver to flush out toxins from the body). The science behind it is simple. Anything that helps coat the stomach, slows down the absorption of alcohol.

Go slow. Though the amount of alcohol that can lead to intoxication differs from person to person, bear in mind that women and Asians in general should drink less because we have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol.

Alternate your drinks with water. That's what the French do and that's why you rarely see them smashed despite their penchant for drink. The rule of thumb is one glass of water per drink. Water keeps you hydrated besides helping slow down the drinking process.

Choose your drinks wisely. It’s a good idea to keep them light (by way of color). Congeners are chemicals formed in the fermentation process. The darker the drink, the more congeners it will have. Clear drinks like gin and vodka, have the least congeners while darker ones like bourbon, scotch and whiskey have the most. Also, try not to mix alcohols. As the rhyme goes, "Liquor before beer, never fear. Beer before liquor, never sicker." Red wine is another alcoholic brew that does not go down well when consumed with other brews, while carbonated drinks like champagne and rum coke have bubbles and carbon dioxide that are absorbed into the bloodstream faster.

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Happy reading,
Evelyn


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