Saturday, July 4, 2009

Don't Show Up Hungry Today!



Yesterday I discussed ways you can healthfully navigate a summer barbecue. Today, I want to review what to do before the barbecue. How can you avoid shoveling it all in and then feeling guilty while popping TUMS? Read on.

All too often at social food gatherings, I hear people say, "I didn't eat a thing all day because I knew I'd be eating a lot here." I don't want to be Alison the dietitian counseling people at parties, so depending on how many glasses of wine I've had, I keep my mouth shut. But inside I'm thinking, that's the dumbest thing you could do girlfriend!

One thing I've learned from my own experience, studying nutrition and counseling clients is that purposefully not eating before a food outing will undoubtedly lead to overeating. Your rationale may be, "Hey, I'm going to eat a lot of high fat food at Mike's pig roast so I might as well save all my calories until then." But if you ate normally leading up to the event, you would actually consume less calories once at the party. True, you still may overeat. But I reassure you the damage will be far less. If you don't believe me, then keep doing what you're doing and let me know how that goes!

I will use today as an example. My husband and I are going to a 4th of July barbecue later this afternoon. I already had breakfast. I'm going to eat my usual lunch as well, and if I feel the need, I may have a small snack just before I go. Why? Because if I don't, I'll start inhaling every chip and dip in sight once I arrive. If I show up already satisfied and not hungry, I may pick a little at the appetizers or not at all, saving lots of extra calories in the end.

Going all or most of the day without eating causes your body to enter a "starvation mode" and metabolism slows down. Once it comes time to eat, you will be ravenous and pile in 2-3 times more calories than usual. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day. Once you start going 5 hours and beyond without food, your blood glucose (sugar) levels drop, making you feel lethargic, dizzy, grouchy and hungry. Eating regularly keeps blood sugar levels at a more consistent level, so you avoid sudden feelings of fatigue and ravenous hunger.

My everyday motto is to stay one step ahead of your hunger. If I'm going shopping for several hours, I bring a snack in my bag. Once a small pang of hunger hits, I've got my healthy snack ready and avoid visiting Aunt Annie's pretzel stand!

The same applies to your big 4th of July plans today. And as always, exercise before and after will give your metabolism an extra boost when over-indulging. Go for a bike ride, walk or jog today. It's a great way to reflect on the day and have a little "me" time before socializing later. Finally, if you do go nuts-o with food, the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day to start healthy all over again!

(NOTE: Image taken from http://yyherbalife.blogspot.com/2008/11/skipping-meals-can-help-to-lose-weight.html)

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