The holiday season means the abundance of food, the lack of self-control and so many parties that leave us with no choice but to still, somehow, try to fit into our clothes even after days of overeating.
How do I fit into my dress in three days? That seems like the appropriate distress call during this time of year, one that I made to Nadine a week ago.
According to Nadine Tengco, a US certified fitness nutritionist-chef and weight-loss specialist, it is possible.
“Try to avoid foods that cause inflammation, those that bloat you, ones high in sodium and very high in fiber.” She enumerated a list of things to avoid 2-3 days leading to the big day:
Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower—vegetables that belong to the cruciferous group (cabbage family). Though good for you, they’re too high in fiber, which causes stomach distension.
Raw salads. Though a healthy option, they are also high in fiber and cause stomach distention. What we want is a flat belly.
All raw vegetables in general during the next 48-72 hours prior to the party. Go for cooked green leafy vegetables—about 1 cup per meal or half of the plate. Again, except for cruciferous vegetables which, cooked or not, cause stomach distention.
All beans, legumes, nuts, including peanut butter. Also very healthy and good for you, but causes stomach distention. Avoid things that cause flatulence and gas.
Apple, pear, grapes. Good, but they will bloat you.
Cola. Anything with fizz or with gas will bloat you for sure.
Gluten foods. Some types of food cause sensitivity but not necessarily an allergic reaction—like gluten. Some people have lost as much as 5 pounds in less than a week by simply eliminating gluten from their diet. Examples: bread, cereals, cakes and pastries, and everything made of white and wheat flour.
Dairy. Yet another type of food some people are sensitive, if not allergic, to. Nadine says when she takes cheese, “my toes get big—manas! I call them cheese toes.”
Food with artificial preservatives— salitre, cured meats, artificial sweeteners. It’s now conclusive that artificial sweeteners cause diabetes and obesity as it messes up the natural regulatory process of the brain, so much so that when you do eat sources of sugar, even carbohydrates, you no longer produce the right amount of insulin. So, blood sugar remains high, causing diabetes and fat storage. Before, it was thought the brain signals the liver to produce insulin when it detects sugar in the blood but actually the brain already starts to signal it the minute it detects sweetness in the tongue. Better go for natural alternatives such as stevia or coco sugar.”
In summary, many types of food, though healthy and very good for you, distend the stomach temporarily. So KEEP THEM in your regular diet BUT AVOID 48-72 HOURS BEFORE the day you need to look hot in your party dress.
Ginger, luyang dilaw, lemongrass that can be made into tea or added to soups and dishes. Cinnamon can be added to drinks and shakes. Look for food that provides flushing, detoxification, those that are anti-inflammatory.
Coffee and tea—but in moderation. “Not instant but freshly brewed,” says Nadine. Tea bags are fine, but not the powdered or bottled variety since they are high in sugar and preservatives. A lot of instant coffees also contain milk and sugar.
Lots of water, since it aids in flushing and stops the bloating.
Buko juice—but don’t overdo it. A cup of buko juice contains around 45 calories and 6 grams of sugar, so it’s also important to track how much. Nadine recommends no more than 3 cups a day.
Non-deep-fried food. All types of cooking methods are okay except deep-fried.
Rice. “The most maligned grain is rice! It is a nonallergenic grain that we Asians tolerate, burn and utilize well,” says Nadine. “We so easily blame rice for our weight gain, but it’s all the other things in our diet—not the rice. We just really eat too much of it. The ideal intake is ½ cup of rice maximum, or 1/3 of the plate.
Lean meat, chicken, fish—protein sources, approximately 85-115 grams or the size of a deck of cards or personal checkbook. That’s about 1/3 of the plate.
Sleep is necessary. The lack of it is stressful to the body. “Around 6-8 hours, no later than 11 p.m. Short naps (5-20 minutes) also have a positive effect on energy, metabolism and dietary cravings.”
On diets, Nadine says, “All diets work. It’s the sustainability that’s a problem. Simply put, if you zip your lip, it will work! If it is easy to maintain, convenient, affordable, sustainable, does not compromise your health or lifestyle and the body does not compensate because of it, then it’s a good diet plan.
All food groups are essential to the body, so the absence of proper nutrients causes the body to go on survival mode and thus store fat. Though a diet might work in the beginning, in the end, it can become the reason why you are no longer losing fat, explains Nadine.
Tengco is currently the Philippine Olympic Committee’s resident sports nutritionist, and was the resident nutritionist-chef of the first season of ABS-CBN’s “Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition.”
For Nadine’s services, or if you want to try her Juice Cleanse Kit (she suggests taking it for a day or two, tops. According to her, aside from a “flat belly, it makes the skin glow and the waist look so small!”) call I-Health – 0906-2520983 or 3804413 (look for Geraldine).
Remember, it is still best to consult your doctor before eliminating certain foods or starting any form of dietary regimen.