Losing Weight (Part 1): Shedding the “party gain”
Are you going to an upcoming birthday celebration, wedding, dinner party with friends, or business meeting with lots of food and drink? If so, don’t be surprised to see your weight go up by 2 pounds or more after a celebration.
In fact, no matter how careful you are, it’s likely you will experience such weight gain on many occasions during the year, either from excess food intake or from energy-containing drinks. Therefore, it is imperative that you have a plan of action to deal with such times, preferably as soon as it is detected by noticing how much exactly you have gained above your “authentic weight”—the weight your intuition tells you is right for your body. And by the way, with summer season approaching, you can also use this strategy to get into your favorite swimwear.
Before I reveal my plan of action, let me review the rationale. First, when you are young, you can reduce your weight by various methods, including increased physical activity. However, as you get older, it may take 3, 4 or more days to lose 2 pounds of added weight, even with increased intensity and duration of exercise. The reason is that while you may expend 250 or more calories during an activity, 2 pounds of fat represents over 7000 calories, making it nearly impossible to lose that weight without some type of plan.
Watching what you eat and drink is thus the best approach to eliminate weight gain. In my view, the best way to do this is to re-activate the natural regulatory system you exercised about eating during your toddler years and which is archived in your brain. Our human nutrient intake regulatory system developed through thousands of years of evolution, as a process called chemical sensitivity. The capability of detecting and responding to the chemical nature of a molecule is what enables all living organisms to take in beneficial nutrients and avoid harmful ones. This is why toddlers know what and how much to eat.
Evolution and diversification resulted in division of this regulatory system into taste and smell capabilities. Detection of chemical molecules and responses from the brain are similar in both cases, so the sensations of taste and smell play an integral part in the detection and consumption of nutrients needed by the body. Paying close attention to our senses of taste and smell is thus our evolutionary natural way to eat enough of what our body needs, without overconsuming.
What to eat to reduce weight gain
Given the above, here is my plan. After weight gain, for the next few days, your main meals should consist of salads made with a variety of vegetables. Start with a mix of greens of your choice. Then add tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, carrots, radishes, turnips, tender beetroots, bell peppers, both green and bulb onions, and other desirable items. Change the combination from one meal to the next.
Eat the salad without any dressing. The reason is to taste each nutrient without interference from any other flavor in the dressing. Using farm fresh, seasonal vegetables will give you the flavor as nature intended. I suggest that you avoid using items such as tomatoes that were selectively bred to increase sugar content.
Do not eat any grains or grain-flour products during this time because these are the main carriers of energy that add excess weight to your body if not burned. Continue this pattern of eating until you have reduced your weight to the previous level.
Eat mindfully to lose weight
As you implement this post weight gain strategy, combine it with a refresher course in mindful eating. Chew each bite as thoroughly as possible. This act allows you to savor the natural taste and experience the differences in taste and the intensity of taste of each item. If needed, add nuts to the salads to increase the duration of your chewing.
Conversely, don’t eat any foods that do not require chewing. Avoid blended, pureed and liquid foods, for example, even if the proponents claim that they are tasty and you can easily get so many nutrients in that fashion. The basis for my objection to eating foods that do not require chewing is that this makes quantity control arbitrary based on how much is made, served or is in a container, especially if you feel compelled not to waste food.
The same caution should be exercised when it comes to the consumption of fruits. Chew them when you want to eat fruits. Do not drink fruit juices or blend fruits into smooth consistency to slurp them, for the same reason related to quantity control as mentioned above.
Teaching your brain to regulate your food intake based on taste will become more proficient if you drink water to clean taste buds after you swallow each bite of well-chewed food. Plain water is best, but if you don’t like to drink plain cold water during meals, warm it or flavor it with tea, mint, ginger, lemon grass, etc. The objective of drinking is not to fill your stomach with water but to clean your taste buds by removing nutrients already on the taste receptors. This allows nutrients released during continued chewing to be associated with taste receptors for more enjoyment of what you are eating. In addition, warm air going up the back of your throat will clean the smell receptors allowing you to continue to enjoy fat-associated nutrients released during chewing.
Avoid water sweetened with any non-energy containing sweetener because the intensity of sweetness can make it difficult for your control centers to function properly to regulate your food intake. The natural regulatory mechanism is based on the intensity of sweetness that is available in nature and the brain knows that sweet sensation means absorption of energy containing nutrients from the intestine, very soon. If no energy containing nutrients are absorbed within the expected time, the brain may disregard the importance of the sensation of sweet taste.
While trying this method of eating for a few days, if you find yourself getting hungry earlier than usual, consider adding a side dish of meat, fish, egg or lentils to supplement your salad as your main course. Ultimately, you have to be in charge of adjusting the food intake based on your metabolic needs that your brain is well aware of, to reconnect with your authentic weight. As you master your new eating pattern involving deliberate chewing of each bite of food, you will also notice yourself gaining less weight after celebrations.
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