Today, at your Thanksgiving table, some persnickety, modern-day Puritans may quibble about and question every item you put on your plate. But don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for enjoying your big turkey feast with all the trimmings.
For one, as I always advise, it’s your general eating pattern throughout the year that matters…not specific foods or any one specific meal.
Plus, a brand new study found that eating a single, large, carb-heavy meal doesn’t seem to cause lasting metabolic harm. I’ll tell you all about those new findings in just a moment. But first, let’s back up…
Your body knows what it needs
It seems like more and more people in our society feel the need to follow overly restrictive diets that cut out whole categories of healthy foods—such as eggs, meats and full-fat dairy.
In fact, I remember a few years ago, I had a wonderful meal at a local seafood restaurant while on summer vacation with a colleague who was visiting us with his wife. You could not ask for a fresher, healthier menu than what was on display that evening.
But my colleague’s wife was following some kind of strict, restricted diet. And instead of ordering a nourishing and satisfying fresh seafood dish, she had some kind of nondescript salad, with not an ounce of fat or protein.
Feeling naturally unsatisfied, I suppose, she kept childishly snatching portions of real food from her husband’s plate, then my plate, and even the children’s plates (which definitely weren’t all filled with the healthiest of ingredients).
It’s sad that some people feel the need to deny themselves the healthy foods their bodies really want and need…such as meats, seafood, and full-fat dairy. Eventually, of course, like my friend’s wife, they “crack.” But instead of opting for a healthy meal…they grab quick, easy, and decidedly unhealthy junk food.
Now, let’s get back to the new study about overeating that I mentioned a moment ago…
The body can cope with the occasional flood of calories, carbs, and fats
In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Bath in the U.K. looked at the metabolic differences between “normal” eating (until you’re full) and “overeating” (until you can’t manage another bite).
Specifically, they looked at key metabolic responses in 14 young, healthy men after eating pizza.
In my view, pizza was a good food to study, especially for Americans—who eat 350 slices of it each second! Not to mention, there are more chain and family-run pizza parlors in the U.S. than there are hamburger joints. And they’ve been around a long time…
In fact, during the 1960s, in my hometown in Massachusetts, there were two places to “eat out.” And both of them were pizza parlors! (On one side of town, at “Five Corners,” there was Simeone’s “White Spot” restaurant…although you were more likely to come out with a red spot. On the other side of the tracks was Bellino’s Pizza—run by the local, immigrant Bellino family. One son, Joseph Michael Bellino [1938 – 2019] left the family business to play football for the United States Naval Academy. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1960 and was drafted by the then, brand-new Boston Patriots to play in the American Football League. In 1977, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.)
Of course, the researchers in the new study said they chose to study the effects of eating pizza because it’s popular and contains a lot of carbs and fats (like the typical Thanksgiving meal). Plus, many people seem to keep eating slice after slice—well beyond the point of feeling full.
The study also had an interesting “crossover” design, meaning the men ate their first meal until they felt “comfortably full.” Then, on a separate occasion, the same men ate until they felt they, “could not eat another bite.”
After both meals, the researchers measured the men’s blood sugar, blood fats, insulin, and other hormones. And they expected to find that the men would exhibit much higher levels for all these tests after overeating.
But it turns out, there wasn’t much difference in blood sugar, blood fats, or insulin after eating a “normal” meal and overeating. Specifically, they found that:
- Blood sugar remained the same after “normal” eating and “overeating.”
- Blood lipids such as triglycerides were only slightly higher after “overeating,” despite consuming twice the fat.
- Insulin, released to control blood sugar, was 50 percent higher after “overeating.” (But remember, the body releases insulin to control blood sugar, which itself was about the same after both eating sessions.)
- Hormones that increase feelings of fullness (satiety) increased the most.
These findings were quite interesting—and contradict the prevailing theory that eating a heavy, high-carb meal leads to a blood sugar crisis. Clearly, the body can cope with the occasional flood of calories and carbs.
Indeed, according to the study’s lead researcher, Aaron Hengist, “Our findings show that the body actually copes remarkably well when faced with a massive and sudden calorie excess. Healthy humans can eat twice as much…and deal effectively with this huge initial energy surplus.”
Give yourself some grace on Thanksgiving
Of course, I strongly urge you against regularly overindulging and overeating. Not only will you gain weight, but you will probably also begin to develop metabolic problems over time. You should also avoid regularly eating processed foods with refined sugars and carbs and artificial ingredients, such as added sugars and fake “sweeteners,” which research shows are the real problems when it comes to diseases like Type II diabetes and heart disease.
But, as this study shows, an occasional indulgent meal doesn’t harm the average person. So, today, don’t let the nick-pickers get to you. Go ahead and enjoy your turkey feast with all the trimmings.
P.S. For additional uncommonly effective, commonsense strategies to help keep your blood sugar in check—and Type II diabetes at bay—I encourage you to check out my Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, or to enroll today, simply click here now!
“Physiological responses to maximal eating in men.” British Journal of Nutrition, August 2020; 124(4): 407-417. doi.org/10.1017/S0007114520001270