gmhTODAY 17 gmhToday Nov Dec 2017 - Page 39

Health Wise with Crystal Han Overeating During the Holidays W ith Thanksgiving just behind us, the temptation to eat as much delicious food as possible may or may not have gotten the best of us. But we’re not done yet. Since the holidays only roll around once a year, it might be easy for us to justify overindulging in the things we like. After all, a few days of binge eating here and there can’t hurt us, right? In a way, this is true, but that doesn’t mean that overeating doesn’t have its dangers. On average, Americans consume around 3,000 extra calories during a Thanksgiving meal. While this might sound alarming, the good news is that it takes about 3,500 calories over what your body normally burns to gain a single pound of fat, meaning that you’ll walk away from your Thanksgiving meal only one pound heavier. That one-time splurge is certainly not going to give you diabetes or heart disease, but it can easily trigger a cycle of overeating. When you overload on too much food, your body goes into a “red alert” mode. Rather than working to convert the food you’ve eaten into healthy by- products, your body sends its hormonal and metabolic systems into overdrive to manage the sheer quantity of what it’s getting. Your pancreas produces extra insulin to quickly remove the sudden rush of sugar in your bloodstream, and it will continue to do this until your brain signals that your blood sugar levels are safe. Usually by the time your brain sends this signal, too much sugar has been removed, resulting in a low blood sugar episode that leaves you feeling tired, dizzy, and sometimes depressed. These unpleasant feelings are often abated by eating more sugars and carbs, bringing you back to square one. With Christmas following right on the heels of Thanksgiving, and the subsequent parties, potlucks, and family feasts, it’s easy to see how splurging at one event sets the stage for splurging at others. Your body quickly decides that the excess food you’re consuming is the new normal and it comes to expect more at every meal, making it even harder to resist all of those delicious treats. If you continue to overeat, your stomach eventually loses the ability to signal the brain that you’re full, which further exacerbates the problem. Much like when you start a strict diet, when you try to return to a normal caloric intake after the holidays, your body responds as though you’re being starved. You feel perpetually hungry and irritable, prompting you to reach for more food to feel better. And sure, maybe this only results in a few extra holiday season pounds, but those pounds can quickly add up as the years go by, making it more diffi cult and more discouraging to lose them. Thankfully