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Turkey + Wine + Potatoes + Pumpkin Pie = Digestive Disaster

Thanksgiving has arrived (for Canadians) – well, almost. Depending on when your family celebrates it, your dinner could be in 1, 2, or 3 days. Or perhaps you are having a turkey dinner on days 1, 2, and 3. Regardless, most Canadians will be engaging in at least one meal of turkey eating.

Typically, these meals are shared with family or close friends and involve a lot of…laughs. Well, hopefully, but these meals tend to involve a lot of FOOD and ALCOHOL. Yes, I know, you’re excited.

Perhaps in anticipation you have been cutting down your food intake over the last three days (I do hope not), or running extra miles and/or extra crunches. The question is, will performing these crazy antics really help you during turkey fiesta 2011? Likely not.

Why? Well cutting down your food consumption is likely (not 100% likely, but definitely likely) going to slow down your metabolism. When you cut down your calories your body typically goes into starvation/protection mode (i.e. it slows down the metabolism to ensure your survival). Thus, slowing down your metabolism prior to mass consumption is NOT a good idea.

OK so running a few extra miles and doing a couple extra crunches may increase your resting metabolism slightly, but not enough to help you out during your personal turkey gobble. I am not saying don’t do it. Do it, please. Progressively overloading yourself is good – it means you will get fitter faster. Just don’t expect it to help you shed the 5 lbs. of sweet potatoes you consumed any faster.

So what can you do to prevent a digestive disaster. It’s pretty simple:

1. Grab a small plate. We eat with our eyes and thus, having a smaller plate will force you to take smaller portions. And you won’t feel as if you are depriving yourself as the portions will look normal relative to the plate. If you’re still hungry go back and get seconds. The added bonus – more leftovers.

2. Eat slowly. Give your stomach enough time to send out the satiety signal to your brain (takes about 10-15 minutes).

3. Walk before your meal. Take a hike or stroll with the fam jam prior to your meal. It will help you to work up an appetite and help you burn a few extra kcals before eating.

4. Cut the appetizer or the dessert. For me, I would cut the appetizer in order to have the dessert. If you’re a salt person you would likely do the opposite.

5. Don’t overdo it on the booze. Typically, when we drink more we eat more. There are a multitude of reasons for this phenomenon. We likely become more uninhibited and perhaps have fewer feelings of guilt (you shouldn’t feel guilt when eating, however, I know we all do from time to time). There is also a biological/protective reason for eating more (typically more fatty foods) when we drink. More food in the stomach slows down the absorption time of the alcohol. Thus, we will feel the effects more slowly.

6. Talk more. The more we talk, the more time we give ourselves to eat and thus, the less likely we are to over consume and imbibe.

Most importantly, have fun this weekend. It’s going to be beautiful in my neck of the woods and I cannot wait for our family hike!

Happy Thanksgiving,

M

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