What’s going to happen tomorrow to the millions of dieters desperately trying to adhere to their New Year’s resolutions? Many will be going to friends’ homes, restaurants, bars, or staying home. Some will be at the game, tailgating. The one thing in common to all this, besides the game, is the plethora of snacks that everyone will be eating. Chips, dips, hors d’oeuvres, buffalo wings, burgers, guacamole, cookies, cakes, candy, nuts, crunchy snacks– the list goes on and on as if the NFL was bent on sabotaging diets.
So what is going to happen? Some will stoically avoid all temptation. Others will plunge right in and enjoy the goodies. Sadly, too many will plunge right in and enjoy the goodies, then use this as an excuse to give up their dieting effort. But, this needn’t be the end of sensible eating. The Weight Agency research has shown that abandoning sensible eating for a day of indulgence can be done almost with impunity, if it is indeed a rare exception. Doctor Oz recently coined the term, “Faturday”, saying that people who diet and indulge once/week lose more weight than those who don’t. How can that be?
Sadly, when one is severely reducing their caloric intake and making up the deficit through lipolysis– burning of stored fat– the body tries to resist by slowing the metabolism to preserve calories. In nature, this characteristic evolved to help our species survive. In times of abundant food, excess food was stored as fat, and this fat was metabolized during starvation periods. By slowing metabolism when metabolizing stored fat, humans could exist longer without food, hence better survival of the species. But, in modern times, especially in our comparatively wealthy society, food is plentiful to almost all, even those below the poverty line. So, we put on the fat easily, thanks to the abundance of food. We don’t have to hunt and gather and live comparatively sedentary lives, so this two-edged sword results in fat bellies and obesity. The final blow is dealt with the metabolism slowing down when we try to reduce this fat. Ironically, what was good for primitive mankind to survive is becoming our death blow now, with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a plethora of bad side effects from our eating habits. What to do?
Fortunately, over-eating once/week and no more will not switch the body from lipolysis mode, back to carbohydrate-burning mode. Twice/week will. Now, I should add that this data pertains to me and a few others whom I’ve tracked. You might be able to do it twice/week with impunity, others only once every two weeks– we’re all a bit different. The point is that a single indulgence in an otherwise low-carbohydrate diet will not derail your efforts; unless you give up and consider it so. Many of those excess calories will pass through and not be absorbed. At worst, you will see a glitch– a temporary plateau of 2-3 days– in your weight loss, but the wise will continue with their sensible eating despite a day of contraband. So, know that an occasional indulgence is not a bad thing and might even be a good thing, as it may make it easier to maintain sensible eating habits.
So, enjoy the Super Bowl! Enjoy the snacks, the burgers, the steaks, the potatoes, chips, cookies, candy, ice cream, and fattening snacks. Prove to yourself that you can indulge on special occasions, if infrequent, and still get your weight down to where you want. An occasional “falling off the wagon” need not justify giving up. But, also, you have heard the expression, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”, but what if you eat only a little cake? What if you avoid the really high-glycemic-index snacks and choose better selections, like guacamole and tortilla chips instead of ice cream and cookies? Or hummus and whole-wheat pita chips instead of the potato chips and artichoke dip? You can make better choices, but hey– it’s Super Bowl, you may be drinking alcohol, and who wants to quibble about snacks? Does it really matter if I eat 100 calorie snack instead of a 200 calorie one? Frequently, yes, but occasionally only? No. So, enjoy your goodies and don’t worry about it…. on Super Bowl. But, you know what to do on Monday and beyond. If you find yourself exceptionally hungry on Monday, recognize that it is because you ran your blood sugar through the roof the day before, and the dropping of it is what is making you hungrier than normal. Tough it out the best you can and in a day or two your hunger and craving will be back to normal, your body will have seemingly forgotten the extra Super Bowl calories, and you will be back on track with your weight loss.
Understanding the effects of refined carbohydrates on your craving and appetite is at the heart of The Weight Agency Method and should be understood no matter what eating plan you choose. Understand that craving and hunger overlap and cannot be separated except when one is eliminated. Normal hunger is a comparatively mild sensation that induces us to eat more food, NOT the ravenous stomach growling that obese people experience when their blood sugar plummets from constant cycling. Normal hunger increases gradually, not abruptly and dramatically like the obese person experiences hours after a high-glycemic load , when their blood sugar is rapidly falling to below-normal levels. Once you experience this difference, you will have understood how the addictive component of refined carbohydrates intensifies the normal hunger. It would be more apt for the obese person to say, instead of “I’m hungry”, or “I’m starved”, “I am suffering severe withdrawal from spiked blood sugar”, and “I need a carb fix”. But, we don’t say that. Instead, we think we’re just hungry and think it is just a matter of lacking willpower that we eat more than we should, when we’re really feeding an addiction. When you recognize that, YOU will be in control of your appetites, perhaps for the first time in your life.
Have fun, Superbowl Fans! Go Niners! (Oops– too late….) 🙂