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Once again fall is here, and with changing leaves and cooler temperatures, anticipation begins to rise for the festive holidays just around the corner.
"Since April, I have lost 15 pounds and just found out that I've lowered my cholesterol by nearly 25 points ... all by following principles of The Body Ecology Diet!! Still trying to figure out some of my health issues, but feeling great today and rather proud of myself!"
- Sharon M., Facebook Fan Page
Forget the bikini body and diet ads — 'tis the season of colorful magazine covers depicting mouthwatering images of lavish Thanksgiving feasts.
It's the time of year when we all enjoy being with our families and indulging in colorful and delicious foods. During the holidays, digestive enzymes like Body Ecology's Assist Dairy & Protein are a must to help correct digestion compromised by over-filling meals.
While some of us can't wait, others may be anxious about the upcoming temptations of the season — and for good reason. While Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time for many of us to relax our healthy eating rules, Deborah Balfanz, PhD, a group behavior change/weight management instructor for the Health Improvement Program at Stanford University, confirms that not caring for the body with healthy foods and exercise over the holidays can make it harder to handle holiday stress.1 For many people, this ebb and flow in the holiday months leads to what is called "creeping obesity," where even an average one pound holiday weight gain is difficult to shake with each passing year.
A 2014 "New Year's Res-Illusions" study published in PLOS One says that even with the best New Year's resolution intentions, healthy eating in January isn't a quick fix for the holiday madness — in a 30-week study that surveyed 207 families, researchers found that participants ate 14 percent more calories in January because they were still eating junk foods and healthy foods.2 Stanford Children's Health physicians believe this accelerated holiday weight gain affects kids too, contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.3 Holiday weight gain can be frustrating, but it also has a deeper significance. Difficulty losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight could be a sign that the inner ecosystem is out of balance and desperately needs support.
Indulgence shouldn't look or feel like punishment, and whether it's a special occasion or not, overeating is always a bad idea.
A healthy digestive tract is essential to good health, and many people have weakened and worn down their digestive systems by overeating at meals.
Your stomach needs room to do its job well, performing three specific tasks in the digestive process:
If you eat until you are completely full, your overworked stomach is unable to contract and properly mix the food you have eaten with its own digestive juices designed to break down nutrients. This slows down digestion tremendously, leading to food sitting in your stomach where it begins to ferment and create sugars that pathogenic yeast like Candida thrive on.
The Principle of 80/20 states that you should eat until your stomach is only 80 percent full, leaving 20 percent room for your stomach to do its job.
If you are trying to get healthy and heal your digestion, abiding by this principle is crucial — and yes, even when you are eating healthy foods. In fact, allowing the natural complex sugars in starchy vegetables or Body Ecology grain-like seeds to ferment will encourage Candida overgrowth, and for this reason, overeating these foods is especially hazardous.
Always limit yourself to one serving when you are having a grain meal. If you think you may still be hungry, have some fermented vegetables or a couple ounces of a fermented beverage. These foods will not only give you a feeling of satiety, but the probiotics they contain are natural digestive aids.
So how can you make sure you don't overeat?
Being able to listen to your body's cues takes practice and time. Some of you may not be sure how to discern whether you are satisfied, full, or too full until it's too late.
Here are a few tips to help you find that mealtime balance:
1. Slow down: Although we just outlined what your stomach does in three seemingly easy steps, digestion is a complex process involving the interaction and cooperation of many hormones and enzymes. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal that you’ve had enough. Eating foods high in unhealthy fats can also change gut bacteria, disrupting the brain's ability to signal fullness.4
What you eat and how fast you eat matters if you want to feel satisfied and in tune with your body. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism confirmed that eating quickly can inhibit the release of gut hormones that signal fullness.5 That’s why when you eat on the run or gobble a meal down in 10 minutes, as so many do these days, you are more likely to overeat without knowing it. Instead, make mealtime a pleasurable experience where you savor and are mindful of each bite you put into your mouth. Eating too fast can shut down digestion and cause long-term harm to your inner ecosystem.
2. Chew your food thoroughly: Digestion starts in your mouth when your saliva begins to break down your food. Not only will chewing thoroughly slow you down, you will fully taste your food to help you feel satisfied sooner.
Chewing your food well has a great effect on the enzymes in your body — chewing into smaller pieces gives more surface area and time for the digestive enzyme action to take place. Longer chewing increases the absorption of protein and minerals and decreases the overall intake of food, so you are automatically eating less. As Marc David, M.A, founder of The Institute for the Psychology of Eating, describes in his best-selling book The Slow Down Diet, eating slowly and in harmony with the body can be a game-changer because it taps into the metabolic power (or digestive force) the body was born with.6
3. Fight portion distortion: The CDC estimates that restaurant plate size has increased by four times since the 1950s, and cookbooks have also begun to enlarge recipe sizes to accommodate our distorted views of what a normal serving is. Within 60 years, the average soft drink size has risen from 7 ounces to 42 ounces, and the average hamburger has tripled in size.7 When sitting down for a holiday meal, we expect to see these jumbo portions reflected on our plates.
Keep in mind that a portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, not a textbook, and that a serving of grain is about the size of a tennis ball. If you are practicing the Principle of 80/20, your plate will include one serving of meat or grain (not both) and about four times as many land, ocean, or fermented vegetables.
4. Remember that you can eat again! Just stop eating once you're not hungry anymore. There isn’t any rule that says you can’t eat or have a snack in two hours if you get hungry again. Becoming friends with your stomach and understanding its hunger cues provide countless benefits for your body. Overeating over the long-term can disrupt the seamless communication between the gut and the brain and create a vicious cycle that leads to or masks depression.8,9
Georgia State University psychologist John de Castro also cautions that this holiday overeating cycle can start early in life as a hereditary family trait.10 There's still hope, even if overeating is a common pastime in your family: Gradually, as the Step by Step Principle reminds us, you will get to know how much food your stomach can hold and how much you need to fuel your body at different times of the day.
As we've said time and again, proper digestion is one of the most important issues to address when you are healing your inner ecosystem and trying to attain top-notch health and vitality.
If you want to give your digestive system an extra boost, don’t forget to include fermented foods and probiotic drinks in your meals, and consider trying Body Ecology’s digestive enzymes to help correct your digestion:
Remember that achieving great health is a step-by-step process and a lifelong commitment. There will always be temptations, especially around the holidays. You might "cheat" on some days, and that’s okay, as long as you step right back on track.
If you are dreading the pressure to overeat during the holiday season, you're certainly not alone. As fun as it is to spend Thanksgiving celebrating with family and friends, it is also a holiday where we have been conditioned to overeat. This overeating can affect the body by compromising its ability to respond to stress. Holiday weight gain caused by overeating can also creep up with each passing year to contribute to adult and child obesity.
The best way to approach this Thanksgiving is with the Principle of 80/20 in your back pocket: Eat only until your stomach is 80 percent full and leave 20 percent room for your stomach to digest.
You can also prepare yourself to withstand the temptation of a holiday binge with these healthy eating tips:
You can provide your body with extra support to combat the Thanksgiving Day overload with fermented foods, probiotic beverages, and digestive enzymes like Assist Full Spectrum and Assist Dairy & Protein that heal the inner ecosystem and regulate digestion.
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