Come All Ye Faithful and Eat ‘Til Your Full

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“Dear Pharmacist,

I celebrate Hanukkah and my husband celebrates Christmas? Why am I telling you this? We both have big families and the food doesn’t stop for 2 weeks solid! I have worked hard all year to lose 24 pounds and I’m scared to gain back all the weight. Any ideas?”

–P.D. Hollywood, Florida

Answer: Since you’ve had years to practice juggling holiday buffets (just like me) you can hoard the matzoh balls like a gerbil while you drive to the next house for some holiday turkey. For sure, the makers of Tums, Prilosec and Imodium are delighted this season because everyone has indigestion, heartburn or diarrhea.

I think it’s the holiday stress that causes us to indulge in feel-good foods.  Eating rapidly is another contributor to the development of holiday love handles. When we eat fast, we don’t give our body enough time to release leptin which is an extremely important hormone released by fat cells. It acts like an appetite suppressant because it helps us feel full. Leptin tells you when to stop eating. But some people -especially the overweight- have resistance to the leptin signal. If your body doesn’t recognize leptin, you will keep eating and eating. So rule number one is to eat slowly, and wait 15 – 20 minutes after the first plate. Hopefully, you will feel full (thanks to leptin) and you won’t need a second helping. Here are a few other suggestions:

-Avoid fried food.

-Only have a ‘bisel’ of the potato latkes or mashed potatoes because the carb rush will send your pancreas (and insulin levels) into a tizzy. Elevated insulin can lead to memory loss, heart disease, inflammation and cancer.

-Eat one dessert only, don’t nosh on everything. Eating sugar makes you crave more sugar and contributes to poor GI function. Honestly, after all your hard work, I would pass on the Christmas cookies.

-Bring your own natural sea salt because it provides healthy iodine, magnesium, selenium and other minerals not found in table salt.

-Don’t stuff yourself to please the host. I totally relate here. To this day, my mom will tap the window of my car as we’re backing out of the driveway, just to give us a To-Go bag. What I really want is a barf bag. And when I get home, there’s a message from dad on my answering machine, “You will make your mother happy if you come for breakfast and eat all the left-overs.” Oy Vey!

-Wine.  Hmm, one glass if you must – make it red.

-A few supplements that are good at busting food/sugar cravings include chromium, glutamine, B-complex, probiotics, digestive enzymes, 5-HTP and guggul.

-Exercise. It helps you make cellular powerhouses (mitochondria) which burn fat and sugar for you.

Did You Know?
Proton-pump acid blockers -used for ulcers and reflux disease- increase a person’s risk for developing pneumonia according to several studies.