by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

I did an experiment this holiday season that I thought you would enjoy called the holiday eating experiment and I just know that you will be shocked with the results.

What I did between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day was to give myself permission to eat whatever I wanted with only one restriction, which was to be gluten free. Just prior to Thanksgiving I weighed in at approximately 198 pounds, give or take a pound, I do not recall exactly.

So throughout this holiday season I ate or drank items that I would typically consume in very small quantities if at all. While I likely will not remember every challenging food here is a list of some of my holiday consumption choices.

  • Eggnog
  • “Spiked” eggnog (Thanks Manny it was good!)
  • Corn tortillas
  • Gluten free brownies
  • Gluten free chocolate cupcakes
  • Cheese of many varieties
  • Potato chips
  • Corn chips
  • Orange juice
  • Daily Coffee w/cream and a little condensed milk
  • I ate out at restaurants that I was not confident in the quality of their food
  • Gluten free pizza
  • Gluten free cookie with vanilla ice cream
  • Chili with beans (I typically won’t have this with beans)
  • I also ate at two buffets which I almost never do
  • Much more wine and mixed drinks than typical
  • French fries
  • Fudge
  • Dark chocolate butter creams
  • Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups
  • While I still made the best choices in quality I was not as concerned about this as normal
  • I did not pay attention to ratios of fat, protein and carbs with my meals.
  • I also ate whenever I wanted without paying attention to the last time I ate or durations between meals

When you look at this list above, this is not much different than most people would eat and as mentioned earlier, most people feel that “everything in moderation” is the way to eat. Soon you will see the shocking difference this can make.

First you might wonder how this differs than my usual nutritional choices. When I am “on my game” nutritionally I would:

  • Eliminate gluten (which I did above also)
  • Eat grains sparingly if at all
  • I typically never drink fruit juice
  • Coffee only as a very rare treat
  • My goal with alcohol is to not drink 3 days after indulging which means approximately 4-5 times per month
  • Water is typically my drink of choice
  • I will occasionally enjoy a dark chocolate treat but sparingly and in small amounts
  • I do not typically consume junk food such as French fries, potato chips and corn chips
  • Dairy is generally limited to small amounts of butter and cheese
  • I also try to get everything organic and naturally raised or grown
  • I typically never eat within 5-6 hours of my last meal
  • I always try to balance my protein, fat and veggie consumption

So what were the results?

After 6 weeks eating whatever sounded good, looked good, whenever I wanted and in moderation I went from approximately 198 pounds to my weight on the evening of 01/02/16 of 220 pounds. You read it correct, I gained a whopping 22 pounds in less than 6 weeks. Yikes!

This is not the only symptom that I felt. Here is a list of symptoms based on my choices.

  • Weight gain of 22 pounds (already mentioned)
  • Significant joint pain
  • Poor sleep (trouble falling asleep and waking often during the night)
  • I woke up approximately 2 hours later most days than normal (especially in the last 2-3 weeks)
  • Extreme bloating
  • I never felt as if my bowels were completely evacuated
  • My face was puffy with bags under my eyes
  • Low energy

While the food and drink that I consumed was enjoyable emotionally and overall tasted so good, the simple fact is that bad food does not taste as good as feeling good feels!

And the sad news is that so many people eat that way (or worse) all the time, and based on working with thousands of clients over the past 15 years, I see the symptoms above as a common occurrence for most people.

There is hope though!

First I want to share that I was going to continue this experiment until the end of Sunday 01/01/16 but based on how I felt already and what the scale told me on Saturday evening, I had no interest in taking this another day.

So what now, you may ask?

When I woke up Sunday morning, my weight had gone from 220 to 217.8 which is a typically percentage of weight loss during sleeping hours.

Then on Sunday I wanted to provide some nourishment for my body while providing a break for my digestive system. With this in mind my breakfast was a 24 ounce glass of water with lemon and some my prebiotic/probitoic formula and mixing some L-glutamine and vitamin C powder in the last few ounces of my water. The water was needed for hydration and help my colon move, the glutamine was used as a gut restorative and the vitamin C as an antioxidant.

A couple of hours after that I warmed up some fresh bone broth that my wife made from our prime rib bones and put this in our Vitamix with celery and greens and mixed away. This was a very pleasing drink that provided further gut restoration, high levels of nutrition all with the digestive ease of a liquid.

Later in the day I had a small bowel of fermented cabbage that provided further benefits both nutritionally along with gut support with the high beneficial bacteria content.

Toward the evening I made a Clearvite shake with water as added nutrient uptake as well as a moderately aggressive liver support. Also through this day I drank quite a bit of water, likely a gallon.

When I woke on Monday my weight went from 217.8 to 212.8. That was good news!

Monday’s breakfast was a 24 ounce glass of water with lemon and some my prebiotic/probitoic formula and mixing some L-glutamine and vitamin C powder in the last few ounces of my water. This was the same as Sunday morning.

My lunch was my first solid food since Saturday evening which was shredded broccoli and carrots mixed with a small amount of chili along with a small avocado.

For dinner I had this with spaghetti squash with butter and garlic, topped with cubed pan fried chick thigh. Throughout this day I kept my water consumption at the same approximate gallon.

The good news waking on Tuesday is that the scale now showed 209.8 pounds. So yes, this is a 10.2 pound loss from Saturday night through Tuesday morning! Yay of course!

Let’s think about this though, did I lose 10.2 pounds of body fat? Absolutely not, but after all during this experiment, body fat was not the biggest issue. Inflammation was the big issue here!

I am not typically chronically inflamed, so my body was reacting to my food and beverage choices via an inflammatory response. Then the inflammation will trigger other challenges and symptoms in the body as mentioned above and listed here below once more.

  • Weight gain of 22 pounds
  • Significant joint pain
  • Poor sleep (trouble falling asleep and waking often during the night)
  • I woke up approximately 2 hours later most days than normal (especially in the last 2-3 weeks)
  • Extreme bloating
  • I never felt as if my bowels were completely evacuated
  • My face was puffy with bags under my eyes
  • Low energy

I can share that in short duration I lost almost half of the inflammatory weight and likely a small amount of body fat. I slept very well last night, woke at my normal time and felt rested. My joint pain, bloating and puffy face have all but gone away and my colon feels empty again. Aaaahhhhh…..

So this experiment only lasted less than 6 weeks, but what about people that have been eating like this (or worse) for years or decades. Well for you, it is not going to be that quick of a fix.

On my end, since this was such a short duration, this will turn around quickly. I am confident that by cleaning up my diet or basically getting back to normal will get me back to my 198 weight relatively quickly. I will also use some anti inflammatory supplements to help move this process along for me.

As mentioned above, for those with chronic inflammation, weight gain and pain, this is not as quick of a fix.

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