Food for Thought
"Everyone is a genius at least once a year ."
—G.C. Lichtenberg

November 2006

Pig Out the Healthy Way
$100 Quiz: Who Works Hardest?
You Said It: "It's a Sick World"
Hey, Wendy Olsen: You Won!

Pig Out the Healthy Way

A Piping Hot Classic
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower CEO and Editor-in-Chief

Every year, I get spam from websites telling me how to navigate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas without gaining weight. To me, this makes as much sense as being told how to attend a Super Bowl without watching the game. How can a holiday be a holiday if you can't overeat?

The fact is, overeating on holidays isn't a bad thing; it may actually  be   good  for   your  diet   in  the  long  run.  Reason:

A 10-pound turkey (after cooking, without the neck and the giblets) sets you back only 9440 calories.

Although starving yourself will make you feel righteous for a day, eventually your pride will turn to resentment. And when overweight people feel resentful, they often eat to "get even." (This usually happens the day after the holiday, when plenty of leftovers are lurking.)

So, while the food police are telling you to "serve portions on a small plate, to make them appear larger" (hey, are you that stupid?) and "chew thoroughly and slowly" (on mashed potatoes?), we're going to give you the straight dope.

8 Rules for Healthful Overeating

  1. If you're going to overindulge, at least know by how much. Continue recording your meals in DietPower's Food Log. (If you don't have DietPower, you can download a free 15-day trial of the software right now.) That way, at least you'll know how many calories to work off after the madness subsides.
  2. Save up beforehand. If your diet calls for 1800 calories today, cut back to 1300 and you'll be 500 ahead on the Big Day.
  3. Realize that even if you gorge yourself, you can't gain much in a single day. Your stomach holds only about 40 fluid ounces. If you stuff it three times with average food (40 calories per ounce), you'll eat 4800 calories. That's less than 3000 calories above maintenance for most people—which means you won't even gain a pound. (The scales may say two or three pounds, but this will be largely water retention and digestive overload, which are temporary.)
  4. Remember this happy thought: The more you eat, the faster you burn calories. When your body sees an excess of fuel coming in, it automatically makes the furnace less efficient so that it burns fuel more rapidly. This self-regulating system ensures that whenever you suddenly increase your eating, the amount of fat you put on will never quite equal your calorie increase.
  5. Get some exercise. A brisk one-hour walk will burn off 200 to 300 calories—and make you expend calories a bit faster afterwards, too.
  6. Concentrate on the lower-fat goodies, which fill you up at a lower calorie cost. (A gram of fat contains 9 calories, versus 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrate.) Eat candy corn, not chocolate. Take the skin off the turkey, eat the white meat instead of the dark, choose the cherry pie over the Boston cream, and gobble all the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce you want. (Eat a ton of celery—it's 90 percent water and only 7 calories per stalk.)
  7. Watch the booze. Because alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, a 6-ounce glass of bourdeaux or chardonnay will set you back more than 120 calories, and a typical 4-ounce martini will hit you with twice that many. Drinking too much may also lead you to eat more than you would otherwise.
  8. On the morning after, don't feel guilty; just get back on the wagon. You've had your fun, just like everyone else, and now you can resume your quest knowing that you didn't miss a thing.

Happy holidays!

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