Samui Wining & Dining
Feast And Fast

How to whittle away that extra weight gained over the festive season.


Page-14It’s just like credit cards. It’s one of the most irritating curses of our modern world. With credit cards, it goes like this: whatever you charge to your card takes ten minutes to get but 1,000 times longer to pay back. And in a weird way, the same thing happens to millions of people every Christmas. But this time it goes: “. . .what the heck! It’s once a year. There’s no way to avoid it so I might as well just go ahead and make the most of it. I’ll go on a diet when it’s all finished.” But, of course, it isn’t just Christmas; there’s no point in dieting until after all those parties and alcohol of the New Year. And so it is that those few days of seasonal indulgence can often take until Easter to get balanced out again.

      If you’re still wondering how Christmas binging has anything at all to do with credit cards, consider this. Just one portion of Christmas pudding with a dash of cream amounts to 450 calories. Ninety minutes of non-stop energetic exercise uses up 450 calories. See the connection now? (Interestingly, when asleep, a body uses only 45 calories per hour per 100 pounds of body weight. Which means that a person weighing 140 pounds burns up only about 500 calories in an eight-hour sleep.) But no matter how you go about it, eyes closed or wide open, there is only one rule to weight loss. You have to take in fewer calories each day than your body is using. That’s it!

       Each of us has a basic metabolic rate (BMR) and this varies according to our age, height, weight, gender and occupation. Plus a few other odd variables, like state of health or genetic disposition. Looking at two extremes, that of a young female secretary and a male lumberjack, this can run between 1,700 and 4,000+ calories a day that are being burned up by our daily activities. (If you look around on websites, you’ll quickly find tables and charts to find out what your particular requirements are.) Age is an important factor here, as a younger body has a faster metabolism. But as we get older excess calories become stored as fat, becoming harder to break down and shed. Which is the main reason that women find it increasingly more difficult to lose weight as they age. And it’s another reason that men and women have a Mars and Venus outlook when it comes to diets and weight loss!

      Most European women I’ve ever known or met are experts on dieting. Some have even told me that they have tried every diet there is. Whereas males seem to march to a different drum, usually being far less bothered about the whole business, particularly as they get older. But, along with this, males display two extremes that I’ve never noticed with women. Regardless of age, they either consider diet and dieting simply as a (non-fanatical) part of a healthy lifestyle, and so stick to a moderated and non-binge approach to life, festive season or not. Or else they’re content to remain cheerfully rounded and couldn’t give a flying fig whatever.

      Take my uncle Doug, for example. His approach used to be to binge to excess and starve himself for a week or so afterwards. But then he married again, to a trim beauty named Joan, and she ran a very tight ship. She made it her mission to deny him the luxury of binging on the rich cream-and-fat-heavy helpings he so used to love. With the result being that he was never able to enjoy the associated punishment of feeling haunted and hollow when dieting afterwards. Having had his cycle broken in this way, Doug then discovered that his urge towards binging had diminished by a similar proportion. The basic psychology of crime and punishment seems to run throughout all of this dieting business somehow, but, then, what do I know – I’m only a man. Although I’m reminded of the criminals’ adage; ‘if you can’t stand the ‘time’, don’t do the crime’. But I have to say that in Doug’s case it was reverse psychology. He needed to feel punished in some way to make up for his gluttony; the two things went hand-in-hand. Reducing either of these things caused the other one to die naturally.

      I’ve just realised that about 50% of my reading audience have already been skipping ahead to see if I’m going to come up with any new hints, tips or news on dieting that they don’t already know about. The answer’s yes, and this is also useful for men to be aware of. Eat some avocado with each meal. One thing about eating a lot is that your stomach adjusts to this and so you always feel hungry if you then start to eat less. (Just try fasting for a week and then see how filled-up you are by only one tomato.) Thus, when trying to diet, there’s a constant desire to snack and nibble. A lot of this is additionally due to a suddenly reduced blood sugar level. But it’s recently been discovered that eating an avocado moderates calorie and carbohydrate intake, but without affecting blood sugar levels. And, while you’re at it, also reduce your calorific intake to less than your specific BMR by cutting out all sugar, alcohol, dairy products and fats, eat lots of fruit to keep satiated, and burn extra calories by exercising as much as you can.

       But if you’re reading this you’re not going to do these things, are you? Either because you’ve already done it, or/and because you’re on holiday! So take a tip from the Thais. Like all Asians, (apart from that handful of moneyed city slickers who are addicted to skinny fries and western-style fast food), Thais generally eat a balanced and low-calorie diet. The cuisine here is excellent; everything cooked in unsaturated vegetable oil, lots of lean meat, fish and seafood, fresh vegetables and loads of low calorie fruit for dessert or between-meals nibbling. So binge yourself on Thai food, and that way you’ll enjoy feasting while on Samui, without all the fasting that usually comes afterwards!


Rob De Wet


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