Friday, January 13, 2023

How Do I Get Back On Track With My Diet After The Holidays?

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day presents some real challenges for those trying to eat healthy and lose weight. The holidays are great and it is a lot of fun to eat and drink a bit more during this time. Just about everyone puts on a few pounds by New Year’s Day.

However, for many of us, the unhealthy eating continues well into January and even February. This is mostly due to swings in blood sugar that result in increased hunger and cravings for refined carbohydrates, which were likely consumed in large amounts over the last several weeks. The more we eat bread, pasta, white rice and sugar, the more we want these foods.

A couple of extra cheat meals and a few pounds gained during the holiday season are not much of a problem. But if the disordered eating lasts for months, you will put on some serious weight. Even my most successful and dedicated clients will struggle during and after the holidays. Here are a few strategies that help them get back on track:

1) If you have eaten more refined carbohydrates during the holiday season, you will have an increase in cravings for them. You will also be more hungry in general. Step one is to mentally realize this. Tell yourself that you will be hungry for the wrong foods, but will not give into them. Getting your head right and understanding the origin of the cravings is very helpful.

2) Write down your food for 2 weeks. It adds a layer of accountability that gets you back on the right track. A great free app to help you do this is MyFitness Pal.

3) Go to the grocery store and load up on all of the right foods. Make it easy to eat healthy. Similarly, get all of the unhealthy foods out of your house. 

4) Plan your meals ahead of time. Think about what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days or even a week.

5) Try to limit eating out at restaurants for the first week or two. Restaurant meals usually have a lot more calories, fat, salt and sugar.

After a week or two of eating right, you will find that your blood sugar has stabilized and the hunger and cravings for the wrong foods will start to calm down.



Physical Activity And COVID Outcomes

The Study

The association between physical activity and COVID outcomes was examined in a cohort of 194,191 COVID positive adults. Subjects were categorized into different fitness levels based on self-reported exercise habits at doctor’s visits. The results were very interesting:

 -When compared to subjects who were physically active 150 minutes per week or more, subject active less than 10 minutes per week had a 91% increased risk of COVID related hospitalization.

- When compared to subjects who were physically active 150 minutes per week or more, subject active less than 10 minutes per week had a 391% increased risk of dying from COVID.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2022

Take Home Message

There are several potential mechanisms for the association between exercise and COVID outcomes seen in this investigation. Regular exercise decreases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, which are risk factors for adverse outcomes with COVID. Exercise also improves immune function and decreases inflammation. These could also explain the association.

Exercise is one of the best weapons to fight virtually every disease, including viruses such as COVID. Get moving and stay active.

Dietary Choices And Sleep Quality

The Study

The association between diet and sleep quality was investigated by a research team at Columbia University. Twenty-six subjects slept 5 nights in a research lab. Four of those days they ate a controlled diet, and the fifth they could eat whatever they wanted. The results were very interesting:

-Fiber was associated with better quality sleep (more slow wave sleep).

-Saturated fat was associated with worse quality sleep (less slow wave sleep).

-Sugar and low fiber carbs were associated with worse quality sleep (more arousals).

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 2016; 12:19-24.

Take Home Message

Quality sleep is critically important for both our physical and mental health. This study shows that what you eat can have a real impact on your sleep. The researchers theorized that our food choices can have an impact on our circadian rhythm and melatonin production.

There are lots of reasons to limit saturated fat, sugar and refined carbs and make sure you are getting enough fiber. Now we have one more.

Book Review: Glucose Revolution

Next up for review is Glucose Revolution, by Jesse Inchauspe. The author holds a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry and is the founder of @GlucoseGoddess, a popular nutrition Instagram account.


The main focus of this book is the importance of keeping a stable blood sugar. It contains 10 “Diet Hacks” to help the reader avoid swings in blood sugar and insulin levels. The book is 224 pages. It is very well written and I enjoyed reading it.

5 Things I Really Liked About Glucose Revolution

1) I like the focus on blood sugar stability. I have been using a blood sugar stabilizing diet for my clients for over 15 years with really good weight loss and health improvement results.

2) I also like how exercise is stressed. It is hugely important for just about any health or weight loss goal.

3) The author recommends limiting fruit juices and smoothies due to their high glycemic impact. I couldn’t agree more.

4) I really like the way the author describes reactive hypoglycemia, which is when swings in blood sugar leave you tired, hungry and moody. I have seen this in the vast majority of my clients over the years.

5) Combining carbs with fat and protein is recommended to keep blood sugar stable. This is a very important strategy that I recommend to each and every client I work with.

5 Things I Didn’t Agree With In Glucose Revolution

1) Finding the cited research was a real challenge in this book. When mentioning a study, it is common practice to number the references and list them sequentially at the end of the chapter or book. The author did not do this but would highlight part of the text and then list any references in the back of the book. This is a bit clumsy and makes it quite difficult to identify the research.

2) I feel like the authors interpretation of the research literature was a bit off at times. For example, one of the dietary strategies described is to eat your protein and fat before your carbohydrates at each meal to stabilize blood sugar. Three studies are cited as evidence that this reduces peak blood glucose. I looked them all up.

-The study by Shukla included only 11 diabetic subjects. They waited 15 minutes between eating the different macronutrients.

-The study by Nishino was in a very obscure Japanese journal I never heard of. Subjects were told to bite each food 20 times before swallowing.

-The study by Trico was on 20 type 2 diabetics who were free living. In other words, no one supervised how they ate their food. This was a trial that was not controlled very well.

The fact that most of these studies were in diabetics with very unusual eating conditions makes it hard to generalize that eating your protein and fat right before your carb will have a major impact on your blood sugar. It may, but these studies don’t really prove that.

3) The author allows regular consumption of sugar. She just recommends trying to limit its impact on blood glucose with “Diet Hacks”.  However, sugar has been shown to be addictive in the research literature. It sounds funny, but it is far easier to give up sugar 100%, then 75%. After a few weeks pass, you don’t even miss it. Having it all the time will result in sugar cravings and increased hunger in general. I have had much more success with eliminating sugar entirely from my client’s diet and allowing an occasional sugar free treat to satisfy any minor residual dessert cravings.

4) Similar to #3, the author allows snacking and has strategies to deal with carb cravings. If you are craving sugar and refined carbs all the time and need to eat in between meals, there is something wrong with your diet.

5) Much of the nutrition advice in this book is questionable. The author recommends all of the following foods as parts of meals and snacks: toast, ham, cheese, butter, coconut oil, cream, rice, potatoes, bagels, crackers, sausage and bacon.  These foods are high in red meat, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates and are not a good choice if you are trying to reduce your risk of chronic disease.

Is Glucose Revolution Worth Reading?

Absolutely! A major goal of my work with clients is to stabilize their blood sugar. I find the best and easiest way is to eliminate sugar and strictly limit refined carbohydrate foods. After a few weeks, the cravings for these foods virtually disappear and my clients develop an entirely new relationship with food.

I would also be careful following some of the nutrition advice here. Including lots of red meat, saturated fat, sugar and refined carbs in your meal choices is not a good idea.