Say No to the Wild Abandon Eating Season

December 1, 2015 in Health, Uncategorized, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Early this morning I read what Christopher Snow published on November 24, 2015; “Gone are the days when the meat of a 15-pound animal was enough to feed your medium-sized family. What is this, the Great Depression?” He shares ten variations of the new Thanksgiving meal Beyond Turducken: The Top 10 Multi-Bird Roasts. Is there a term for ‘stomach turner’? Many, many decades ago, I thought I was beyond my youthful phase when I did not want my food mixed or even touching. How much meat variety do you need at one meal? Yes, Snow’s article was creative and I learned something new, BUT …… it was definitely too early in the day to see the pictures and read those words. Yuck, I’m feeling queasy – maybe still a little psychologically full from Thursday.

My good friend posted a photo of his plate on Thanksgiving. It was a fairly large dinner plate, with two lamb chops, one slice of prime rib (looked to be about 8 ounces); 2 or 3 thick slices of turkey; some cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and stuffing. There were no vegetables, green or otherwise; maybe they were on another plate, as there was not a bit of room on his large plate.

But now it’s Monday, four days after Thanksgiving and time to post a blog. The elephant in the room may be the scale still muttering recriminations, or the still uncomfortable waistband on a favorite pair of jeans. The fact is that even health-aware people tend to give themselves permission for leniency at the end of the year. Berkowitz and Gamio published their Washington Post article Too Much of a Good Thing? Why you feel so lousy after a huge holiday meal (Don’t miss this article.) It contains reference to a survey done by MyFitnessPal that found 88 percent of MyFitnessPal app users said that they planned to relax their food rules at least a little during the holidays. Ten percent said they planned to chuck the rules entirely. Just in case my descriptor “health-aware people” slipped by you, notice that these are people that use the MyFitnessPal app – those dedicated to health. So if you’ve fallen off your eating/exercising wagon this past week, don’t be discouraged. Get back up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

The heart wrenching part is that so many people let Thanksgiving be the beginning of the wild abandon eating season. The remorse season follows, beginning with New Years resolutions and it tends to happen each year. The remorse season and accompanying self-recrimination go for many months trying to correct the six weeks of ‘wild abandon’ eating, with lack of exercise often added to the mix.

There are quite a few studies reporting the number of calories eaten at the main Thanksgiving meal. From my quick survey they seem to range between 1,813 to as many as 4,500 calories. We should notice that many of us consume enough calories at one meal to suffice for the day and often more. It isn’t rocket science to realize that it is going to lead to weight gain, if we don’t snap out of the over eating quickly. If we recognize that we will probably be confronted (repeatedly) with opportunities to eat party food during the next month and a half, we should make a little effort to develop some wise personal plans. It’s not too late to try to apply hints to keep the damage as minimal as possible. Let’s start from where we are – Thanksgiving leftovers. Why not freeze some for future meals? Maybe freeze them packaged in portions so they can easily be mixed and matched with other kinds of portions to quickly produce tasty meals.

One thing to realize is that the Thanksgiving meal is an outlier from regular eating patterns. One place to start is just to take a quick look at the starchy foods. I generally serve one starchy food at a dinner or a lunch. But would it be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and gravy AND yams/sweet potatoes AND stuffing AND rolls AND possibly even corn or peas? Maybe consider skipping your least favorite or having only a tiny taste of the least desired. This is a personal preference issue. I can’t do it for you and you can’t decide for me. ABC did a story called Hold the Stuffing! Beware of Thanksgiving Calorie Overload, by Gillian Mohney. My immediate and visceral reaction was: Are you kidding? No chance – stuffing is my favorite. We rarely have stuffing (if you call Thanksgiving stuffing rarely). And gravy is also a huge treat. So figure out what really matters to you. I could pass on turkey, potatoes and even pie as long as I got my stuffing and gravy. No stuffing is not a health food, but the king of comfort foods for me. This is the point; some of you could care less about the stuffing, but love the turkey or some other part of the meal. Don’t feel compelled to eat your regular serving size, or more, of each and every offering. Take control of your portions at this Thanksgiving meal and every other holiday meal during this ‘eating season.’

While, it’s too late for Thanksgiving eating for this year, you can learn from it and plan ahead for the next temptation. Your next eating challenge doesn’t have to spell full throttle eating/wild abandon eating.

I guess in the tradition of the gratitude season, I’m thankful that we walked a 5k for the state food bank on Thanksgiving morning. Some research says that if you exercise within 12 hours of the big meal you’ll fare better than those who do not. Exercisers tend to have a more sensitive insulin response; and with the carb load (yams, potatoes, rolls, stuffing, peas, etc.) your body can more efficiently process the excess.

There are hundreds of hints in my past articles. But the most important is to consider very carefully, not giving yourself permission for wild abandon eating. Enjoy the flavors of the season, but consider enjoying … savoring… smaller amounts. Make some rules for yourself, ahead of the gathering. It’s not too late for this holiday season. One meal or even a few is not a good rationale for giving up on your health goals. Snip the wild abandon eating-style in the bud.