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How to Avoid a Thanksgiving Food Coma

  • by
  • November 24, 2010
  • 11:30 pm
How to Avoid a Thanksgiving Food Coma

Wednesday is the heaviest travel day of the year in the United States, as millions of Americans head home to celebrate Thanksgiving. Some of you are probably reading this dispatch on PDAs as you wait in an interminable line at airport security. Here’s some food for thought.

At Grist, food writer Michael Pollan officially declares himself a Rules Guy. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean he won’t accept a Friday dinner invitation offered after noon on Wednesday. Pollan thinks that our healthy eating skills are passed down to us as part of food culture. In this era of drive-through windows and meal replacement bars, a lot of the old wisdom is falling by the wayside and Americans are finding themselves adrift in a sea of calories. On the eve of Thanksgiving, Pollan provides some helpful guidelines for avoiding the food coma:

[M]any ethnic traditions have their own memorable expressions for what amounts to the same recommendation. Many cultures, for examples, have grappled with the problem of food abundance and come up with different ways of proposing we stop eating before we’re completely full: the Japanese say “hara hachi bu” (“Eat until you are 4/5 full”); Germans advise eaters to “tie off the sack before it’s full.” And the prophet Mohammed recommended that a full belly should contain one-third food, one-third drink, and one-third air. My own Russian-Jewish grandfather used to say at the end of every meal, “I always like to leave the table a little bit hungry.”

But wait, there’s more!

  • Unions representing airline pilots and flight attendants are advising their members to avoid the the TSA’s new backscatter x-ray scans because of concerns about the long-term health effects of x-ray radiation. Crew members who refused scans have been subjected to new “enhanced” pat-down searches. This week, the TSA granted an exception to pilots, but not to flight attendants. As I reported for Working In These Times, all crew members go through the same FBI background check and fingerprinting process. “Don’t touch my junk!” has become a rallying cry for passengers, particularly white men, who are not accustomed to being asked to give up any part of their body’s autonomy for the greater good. Is it a coincidence that 95% of pilots are men and three-quarters of flight attendants are women?
  • Adam Serwer argues in The American Prospect that it’s easy to demand tough security measures when the presumed targets are faceless Muslims in a distant country. When air travelers are asked to compromise their own privacy in the name of security, the tradeoff suddenly seems very different.
  • Employee health insurance deductibles are skyrocketing at Whole Foods and CEO John Mackey is trying to blame the increase on health care reform. “This is very important for everyone to understand: 100% of the increases in deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums in 2011 compared to 2010 are due to new federal mandates and regulations,” Mackey wrote in a corporate memo. In fact, as Josh Harkinson reports in Mother Jones, Mackey’s memo is pure, organic BS. The provisions in the Affordable Care Act that might increase costs won’t go into effect until 2014, so it’s hard to figure out how federal policies could be responsible. Health insurance costs were rising by about 5% per year, year after year, before the Affordable Care Act passed. The truth is that health insurance is getting more expensive because health care is getting more expensive. As Harkinson points out, one of the reasons that health care is getting more expensive is because corporations like Whole Foods are pushing more of their employees into part-time work to avoid covering them. Of course, when those workers get sick, someone has to pick up the cost of their care. So those who have insurance, including some of Whole Foods’ own employees, have to pay more to make up the difference.


This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.


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Photo credit: Ms Jones
by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

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25 comments

+ add your own
10:59PM PST on Nov 28, 2010

No, Ronald, vegans don't give up that much. But because of vegans and their impact on the world, you might get to live in gluttony a while longer.

5:53PM PST on Nov 28, 2010

With all the food on Christmas, we should only satisfy our eyes and not our stomachs. Eat moderately only.

6:23PM PST on Nov 27, 2010

How about NOT eating so much! What a concept~

5:22PM PST on Nov 26, 2010

I hate hummus and tofu - yek!! Potatoes soaked in butter, bacon chunks, and sour cream are great. And I love a good bean dip if it's loaded with ground meat and cheese. Yummy! Vegans give up so much of the true pleasures of living.

2:41AM PST on Nov 26, 2010

Thanks for the info.

9:28PM PST on Nov 25, 2010

I KNOW A WAY!
DON'T EAT SO MUCH!
IF YOU HAVE SO MANY MONEY TO SPEND ON SUCH AMOUNT OF FOODS THAT CAN GIVE YOU INDIGESTION..(.WELL IT' IS CHOKING!) DON'T BUY SO MUCH AND GIVE THAT MONEY TO THE POOR!!!!
I'M SORRY TO BE SO RUDE BUT I'M SICKNENED TO READ ABOUT FOOD FOR SO MANY DAYS!!.........I'M AFRAID YOU DON'T STOP TILL THE 7 OF JANUARY!!!
PLEASE THERE ARE SO MANY IMPORTANT THINGS TO TALK ABOUT..........

8:05PM PST on Nov 25, 2010

Read up on food combining (see Harvey Diamond's 'Fit for Life'). You can't mix meat and starch-based foods because they require incompatible digestive enzymes: protein requires acidic enzymes and starch alkaline.

6:12PM PST on Nov 25, 2010

The power of positive thinking, does wonders..Happy T Day to all!

1:47PM PST on Nov 25, 2010

Thank you

1:34PM PST on Nov 25, 2010

Thank you. Good article and I enjoyed the advice from various cultures and religions.

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