Can You Enjoy the Holidays Without a Food Coma?

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Can You Enjoy the Holidays Without a Food Coma?
By Richie Santucci, RD CDE CPT Reg. Dietitian

passed out mardi gras pic

Sounds almost like a catch 22, an oxy-moron or some kind of Chinese riddle, right? Enjoying the holidays without overeating? Is that even possible? My answer is a resounding n… ok well as a Dietitian, you know I have to say yes, right? But what I will say is that there are two degrees of overeating. One is slightly overeating; maybe a few hundred calories or so while the other; is the infamous “gorging” yourself- with over 1000 – 5000 extra calories.

As far as slightly overeating- yes, its gonna happen. There’s going to be more calories on the table than screaming teenage girls at a boy band concert. However tempting it is to let you simply pack on 15 pounds this winter (adding to my own job security might I add) I’ve listed some tips here to prevent yourself from that Holiday “Food Coma” and going off the deep end into a vast carb-loaded abyss.

5 Tips to Avoid The Holiday Food Coma:

– The 5 second belly test: First I want everyone to do a little exercise with me here. I want you to take your hands and put them on your belly. Go ahead- no ones watching. Now I want you to answer this question for yourself: Do you really need to fatten up for the winter?¬†Get to a Body Composition Scale if you can that will show your exact percent body fat in relation to the recommended range. Then you can decide whether you really want to “gorge” yourself this holiday season. Email me at in the NOLA area for your FREE Weight Loss Consult and Body Composition Analysis.

– Increase your activity- don’t head to the couch after your meal. Its simple- you know you’re going to eat more, so move more! Being sedentary for a long time after overeating assures most of those calories go right into fat storage. It also usually makes you feel pretty awful and useless for the rest of the day as well. Go for a walk with the family, play some wii games with uncle Joe or even clean up after the meal. Light to moderate physical activity after eating will help burn up some of those excess calories.

– Use the Healthy Plate Model Remember that starches are great, but try to still limit them to a quarter of your plate. (And no, stacking the carbs 12 inches high does not still count as 1/4th of your plate) Remember- the body can store excess protein, fat AND carbs as fat so even if you skip the stuffing but eat half a turkey- you’re still going to store that extra protein as fat. Try to eat a large serving of salad or other non starchy vegetables before you eat your main meal. Chewing helps make you full as well as the fiber in the veggies. Also- stay hydrated with water and eat a small snack at all 3 meal times of the day to keep your metabolism running smoothly.

– Change your mindset about ‘Enjoying.” You can still enjoy the taste of all those home made dishes without funneling an extra 3 cups through your mouth. No matter how you want to justify eating a weeks worth of calories in one meal, any extra calories you eat are essentially just extra work on your liver, kidneys, heart and the rest of your body. Savor your food, take your time and enjoy the company of family and friends between each bite.

– Whoah there on the dessert. Remember sweets and desserts are usually highly saturated with sugar. We are a country that has been de-sensitized to sugar- meaning we don’t always realize just how much excess sugar we truly eat. Sugar diverts a lot of your body’s digestive system towards the sugar making it hard to digest the rest of your meal. Some tips to help control your sugar intake are adding some light whipped cream or nuts to your dessert and drink a half cup of water or so to help fill you up and slow down your sweet tooth. Take it easy on frosting and other super sweet icings. As for baking- you don’t always have to use 100% of the sugar the recipe calls for but if you must- try to use brown cane sugar crystals, including “Sugar in the Raw,” which is unrefined and less toxic to your system than refined white sugar.

PS: Easy on the alcohol: More than 1 or 2 drinks is going to severely slow down your digestion and contribute to that food coma.

Be Grateful: Think of 3 things you’re grateful for and if you can’t- email me at and Ill help you find 3 things! Remember that no matter how bad you think your life is, someone always has it worse than you and as long as you’re alive, you’re ahead of the game. Love yourself & spend time with your friends, family and pets.

Enjoy the Holidays, Have a Great Day, and Namaste
– Richie Santucci, RD, CDE, CPT, Creator of Muscle Release Yoga

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