Since I work at a hospital, I receive a surprising number of letters asking me health-related questions. And during the holiday season, many of these questions tend to be related to overeating and the nutritional concerns that arise this time of year.
So with the caveat that I am not a medical professional (most people would say I’m not any kind of professional), and despite in no way being qualified to dispense information of any kind, I shall now endeavor to answer some of your thought-provoking questions.
Q. Do you have a philosophy about eating during the holidays?
A. My approach to eating comes from one of my favorite philosophers, Miss Piggy, who once said: “Never eat more than you can lift.” These wise words have motivated me to do more bicep curls. As a result, I can now lift more than I used to—and thus, more food for me.
Q. Do you feel you are in better shape because of your eating philosophy?
A. I can’t say whether or not it’s a “better” shape—it all depends on how you feel about round things.
Q. Can we learn better eating habits by studying animals and the way in which they eat to live, rather than live to eat?
A. If a cow and a shark had a human child, that would be me. During the holidays, I tend to graze like a cow in a pasture of snacks, and after a while the cow analogy becomes visually closer to the truth than I care to admit. And much like a shark, I feel that if I’m not grazing constantly, I will die. So my recommendation is that if you choose to study animals and how they eat, choose subjects other than a cow and a shark, because that hasn’t been working out too well for me.
Q. Is it really a little-known scientific fact that calories eaten during the holidays don’t count?
A. It depends almost entirely on the meal. If your holiday dinner consists of a water appetizer, a main dish of unicorn and Styrofoam peanuts for dessert, then yes, that should be a relatively calorie-free meal. Most other foods, though, can present a bit of a problem.
As a side note, I have come to the sad realization that “little-known scientific facts” are usually labeled as such because they aren’t actually scientific facts. That’s the main reason why they’re little-known.
Q. What are the major causes of weight gain during the holidays?
A. Things that are edible. Historically I have been able to track the vast majority of my weight gain back to things I have eaten.
Q. Do I still need to watch what I eat if I’m also exercising?
A. You don’t need to watch what you eatwhileyou’re exercising, if that’s your question. That can be dangerous, if not exceptionally messy. And if your exercise routine consists of running 100 miles a day, then you probably don’t have to watch what you eat after you exercise. But if after taking a brisk 10-minute walk you feel you can devour a large plate of chocolate chip cookies, you aren’t exactly going to break even on that transaction. You will, however, likely enjoy the cookies more than you did the walk.
I’m confident that you have found this information to be helpful. Be sure to check out our next issue, when I will tackle the tricky subject of neurosurgery. I feel like I’m on a roll now.
Mmmm. Did someone say rolls?