The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1017: How to Avoid Weight Gain Over the Holidays

Each of us responds to food differently. What is your strategy to avoid weight gain at the end of the year?
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How to Avoid Weight Gain Over the Holidays

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We are accustomed to hearing, “Eat this, don’t eat that.” Nearly everyone who makes such a pronouncement is convinced that he or she has discovered the one and only diet that will solve the problem of obesity in America and help all of us avoid weight gain.

If only it were that simple! The US still has a high rate of obesity and a growing rate of type 2 diabetes. Is it only because people are undisciplined about their diets, or might there be other explanations?

Watching Out for Blood Sugar Spikes:

We have all been told to avoid sweets and highly processed carbs such as bagels, pizza or bread. That’s because these foods often cause post-meal spikes in blood sugar first, and then insulin.

How Do You React to Specific Foods?

Now, however, Israeli researchers have found that each of us reacts in a unique way to foods. For some, ice cream will cause the sharpest blood sugar spike; for others, the trigger might be mashed potatoes or bananas. The scientists measured blood sugar responses, bacterial flora and other characteristics of 800 people and developed a computer algorithm that predicts blood sugar response more accurately than that prescribed by an experienced dietitian. What are the implications?

How Will You Avoid Weight Gain Over the Holidays?

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day presents many temptations to overeat. We welcome listeners’ calls about their strategies to avoid weight gain during this festive feasting season. Call 888-472-3366 to join the conversation.

This Week’s Guests:

Eran Segal, PhD, is Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. His article, “Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses,” was published in Cell, Nov. 19, 2015. The photograph is of Dr. Segal.

David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, is a practicing endocrinologist and researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. He is Founding Director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of the oldest family-based weight management programs.

Dr. Ludwig’s forthcoming book, Always Hungry: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently, will be published Jan. 5, 2016. His commentary on Dr. Segal’s research, “Could Your Healthy Diet Make Me Fat?” was published in The New York Times on Nov. 28, 2015. His website is

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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After My husband & I went on a gF diet, I found that I did not want to overeat as much as I did when eating gluten. It was as if bread & bread products were addictive. I still eat sweets & snacks like tortilla & potato chips but in moderation. Most of our food is cooked from scratch so we avoid additives & preservatives. I am not at my target weight but more in control than before.

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