Be careful how many friends you invite for dinner

Who doesn’t like the feast of the holiday season? For most it’s a time of laughter, revelry and the bounty of food and drink. It’s also a time when will-power takes a holiday. Much too much eggnog and other calories are consumed. So do you just give up, or do you decide to be a smart eater? Here’s Menu 101 for smart holiday eating.

Dr. Susan B. Roberts, director of Tuft’s University Energy Metabolism Laboratory, says, “Faced with a six week never-ending onslaught of fattening foods, you know you can’t win, so you resign yourself in advance and let yourself go.”

But what happens to the calorie count on holidays is shocking.

For instance, Roberts says between U.S. Thanksgiving and the New Year, the typical adult American gains five to eight pounds. This amounts to eating a total of 20,000 excess calories, or daily consumption of 500 calories over what’s needed to maintain normal weight. Moreover, most of these calories come from saturated fat. Bad news for those who worry about cholesterol levels.

It was refreshing that some of Robert’s suggestions were new and unique, ones I had never heard previously. For instance, if you’re worried about gaining weight this holiday season, you’d better keep an eye on the number of guests invited for dinner. Roberts’ research shows that for every guest at dinner, the amount of food eaten increases by 35 calories.

Roberts adds that if you play holiday music during dinner this will add another 100 calories. Then, if after dinner you decide it’s time to relax and watch a football game, add another 140 calories.

She reports further bad news. Gorging doesn’t end when the party is over. Studies show that after eating the meal to end all meals, you can expect to be hungrier and consume more at the next sitting.

Why does this happen? Roberts claims our intestinal processes speed up when we eat rich food, so the stomach empties more speedily. This means that going from one feast to another doesn’t allow us to revert to normal eating habits as the stomach cries out for more food. This leads to more sugar, saturated fats, sodium and alcohol.

But the holiday season does not have to end up as a nutritional disaster. One protective move is to start eating a high fiber breakfast cereal at the start of the season. This is prudent any time of the year as fiber decreases the hunger reflex so when dinner is served you eat less food.

Multiple studies also show that where food is located on the table determines how much you pile on your plate. So make sure the high calorie foods and the wine bottle are not near you.

You’re also lucky if your dinner guests are slim. Roberts claims that short, skinny neighbours will serve themselves smaller portions and this shames you to consume smaller amounts than tall, overweight or athletic ones.

Her other suggestions tell us what common sense has told us in the past. Namely, it’s wise to plan a menu that has a good portion of low-calorie fruit and vegetable dishes. Consumption is also decreased when dinner guests have less choice and variety in foods. In fact, Roberts stresses that guests find it comforting when offered a meal that doesn’t make them overeat.

Are you a speed eater? If so, try to slow down and be one of the last to see your plate empty. This usually ensures you won’t be tempted by a second helping. Besides, other guests will not be amused at having to wait and watch you eat ‘seconds’.

I’m sorry to report to Dr. Roberts that I can’t accept her advice and say no to mashed potatoes. I love them, but I’ll use skim milk to mash them rather than load on fat and butter.

Moreover, I don’t intend to skip the cocktail. I’d agree if you’re not a moderate drinker. But the festive season demands some celebration. I’ll take a glass of Chardonnay along with my mashed potatoes this holiday season.

Many readers have asked where they can obtain my book, What I Learned as a Medical Journalist. It’s only available at Health Food Stores.

See the web site www.docgiff.com. For comments info@docgiff.com.


Just Posted

WATCH: Joe Hittel is the number one fundraiser in Northern Alberta for Rope for Hope

Hittel of Red Deer raised $14,000 for Make A Wish event

Watch: Westerner Days in full swing

The heat and the thunderstorms didn’t stop anybody

The Expo Wheel ride a no-go at Westerner Days

Red Deerians take in Westerner Days all week long

20,000 swarm to Westerner Days on day two

Westerner Days Fair & Exposition saw the community meet-up for Tim Hortons Kids Day

WATCH: Red Deer Airport’s Boot Scootin BBQ supports great cause

Airport hopes to donate $4,000+ to Aspire Special Needs

WATCH: Red Deer Airport’s Boot Scootin BBQ supports great cause

Airport hopes to donate $4,000+ to Aspire Special Needs

Ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan says goodbye to Toronto on Instagram

The guard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Cigarette packs with graphic images, blunt warnings are effective: focus groups

Warnings considered effective flag ailments smoking can cause, like colorectal and stomach cancers

Canada’s title hopes quashed at Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco

On the men’s side, Canada was eliminated in the round of 16 as they were shut out by Argentina 28-0

Astronaut drops in on Kraftwerk gig, plays duet from space

Alexander Gerst becomes an astronaut musician with live performance from International Space Station

Four people taken by STARS to Edmonton

Blackfalds RCMP investigates single vehicle rollover south of Hwy 11A

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

UPDATED: Remains of all eight Bruce McArthur victims now identified, Toronto police say

McArthur worked as a landscaper and allegedly concealed the remains of several men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

Most Read