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Posted on 12-11-2017

The Simplest Health Tip for the Holidays             Article of the Week Dec 11 to 15

            One of the things that I look forward to the most during the holiday season is the opportunity to sit down with friends and family and enjoy good food.  However, there are more opportunities to over-indulge than at any other time during the year.  I've found that many people struggle with how much they eat over the holidays, and the Christmas season aftermath where they are trying to get rid of the 5-10 pounds that mysteriously appeared.

In this week's article of the week I want to give you a simple strategy that will allow you to enjoy your Christmas festivities and at the same time reduce the likelihood that you overeat and sabotage your health heading into the New Year.  The strategy is to eat more slowly.  I know this sounds too simple but let me explain a little bit of the science behind what happens when you slow the eating process.

In November 2017 a study released from Hiroshima University in Japan found that “eating speed was associated with obesity and future prevalence of metabolic syndrome”.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term metabolic syndrome, it refers to a group of 5 factors that increase your likelihood of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  The risk factors include high blood pressure, high triglycerides (fats in the blood), high fasting blood sugar, low amounts of good (HDL) cholesterol and a large waistline.

So the take home here is that you can reduce your chances of these 5 risk factors and the diseases they cause simply by slowing down when you eat!  Here are some simple tips to help you slow down:

  • Count the number of times you chew.  Aim to chew 35-40 times before you swallow.  The extra chewing allows enzymes in your saliva to more thoroughly break your food down which has been shown to increase the amount of nutrients you absorb from the food you eat
  • Remember you have stretch receptors in your intestines that send messages to your brain via the vagus nerve to tell your brain when you are full.  It takes time for these messages to arrive at your brain and for you to feel a sense of fullness, so eating more slowly will allow you to feel full when you've eaten less.  Studies have shown that increasing the number of times you chew will decrease the amount you eat by as much as 15 percent!
  • Sit down at the table and minimize distractions like the television, a computer or cell phone. When you are mindful of eating and eliminate distractions you are more likely to slow down
  • Practice putting down your utensils between bites.  Breath and relax.  Don't put the next bite in until the last one has been fully chewed and swallowed
  • Set aside regular meal times if possible, and increase the amount of time you plan for a meal.
  • This Christmas, take time to enjoy the company and conversation between bites and be mindful of your surroundings

If you pay attention to these simple tips, I would bet that you will increase the time it takes you to eat Christmas dinner(s) and you will reduce the overall calories you consume.  You will be less likely to put on the extra pounds and overall you are going to feel better because you will reduce spikes to your blood sugar which leave you feeling flat and lethargic when your sugar crashes.

Give it a try starting today.  By the time Christmas gets here you will have developed a habit that will make your holidays, and 2018 healthier!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tim

Upcoming Closures: Dec 25, 26, 27, 28 & Jan 1, 2017

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