The Diet vs. The Holiday Party

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Dec 1st, 2011)

It is now December and all the holiday parties will be starting soon where rich foods and desserts will be served with little to no other options. So what is a dieter to do other than fold and give into temptation? Well, there may be options. But just remember what I’ve said before in my videos; Do everything in moderation, including moderation. It’s ok to have a little fun and indulge yourself just a little bit. There is no need to feel guilty for sampling the fare your host has provided. A lot of people beat themselves up for cheating on a diet but there is no need. So you strayed a little. So what? That just means you should get back on the path and continue on.

Here are some tricks to use to limit the distance you stray from that strict diet path:

1. Before heading out to a party have a snack of healthy food that will keep you full for a long time like raw veggies and hard fruit. The fibre will digest very slowly and keep your stomach full for longer, sending both nervous and hormonal signals back to your brain to stop hunger. It will also keep your blood sugar stable for longer which helps to decrease hunger.

2. While at the party have a glass of water now and then and take little sips continuously. This will fill your stomach and send those signals back to the brain dampening the hunger signals. On top of this the continuous swallowing will stimulate the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve is responsible for the operation of the upper 2/3 of your digestive system and by stimulating it extra signals are sent back to the brain to stop hunger. You can do this with an alcoholic drink but alcohol is a neurological depressant (decreases signals processed) and so the more alcohol imbibed the less effective your hunger stopping signals will be.

3. If you are going to indulge a little this holiday season a little restraint is necessary. When at the buffet table take the smallest plate available and the smallest servings you can. Only fill the plate once in the night and no stacking. The key to making this work is eating what is on the plate slowly and making it last throughout the night.

4. When at a dinner party try to break down each dish into its components and fill your plate with the foods with the most healthy components in them. Take more veggies than anything else and avoid large portions of clearly unhealthy things like the scalloped potatoes. And only take the smallest portion of dessert that is still polite.

Always check with your doctor who is helping you with your diet to see if the plan you are on has stricter rules than this, as there are many dietary health plans that are very important to not cheat on. But the most important thing to remember is to enjoy the holiday season and just be as healthy as you can.

Thanks for reading,
Dr. Ben

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