The Holiday Fat-Fire Traingle…


Heat, fuel, and oxygen; my Coast Guard training taught me that these are the three necessary elements of the fire triangle. Eliminate any one element, and prevent a fire from ever happening. Intermingle all three elements, and a fire is certain.

Certain too is what I call the fat-fire triangle – especially during the holiday season. Just like the fire triangle, a fiery gain in body-fat from a holiday meal can be prevented if one or more elements of the fat-fire triangle is eliminated. Actually, the holiday meal isn’t the sole culprit of the fat-fire triangle. It’s also the lingering conditions; the next several days and weeks after the holiday meal.  During what we gleefully call the “holiday season”, the conditions are just right for a fat-fire. Put several holiday celebrations back to back to back, and the fat-fire hazard is very high. Here’s what I mean:

A holiday meal will certainly be heartier than your average meal, because it’s special – I guess. Heartier, in all likelihood, due to more carbohydrate and fat laden foods, side-dishes, and desserts such as potatoes, stuffing, buttered rolls, pies, cookies, and the like. These carbohydrates in particular will richen and heighten your blood sugar when eaten. To offset that increase in blood sugar, your pancreas will increase its production of this magical stuff – let’s call it insulin, to keep up with the increased blood sugar.  Minimally speaking, insulin is what helps convert blood sugar into glucose.  Guess what? That sudden increase in insulin production can make you hungry, and that increased hunger will carry well into your next day. Element number one, hunger, is in now place, and the fat-fire triangle is beginning to form.

After your holiday meal is complete, your nap is over, your team has won the big game, and Aunt Rose and Cousin Vinnie have gone back upstate where they belong, you take irresistible note of all the fire starters that have been left behind.  Your kitchen counters are adorned with this ready-to-go kindling for your fat-fire.  We’ll call these leftovers, and they are calling you by name while you are in your weakened state of increased hunger. Your leftovers are the fuel, another element of the fat-fire triangle.

Element number three? Opportunity. It’s a day after your holiday meal and you’re hungrier than normal due to your increased insulin production from all your eating the day before.   These leftovers which surround you and capture your eyes like sparkling fairies in the forest, are of little danger without opportunity.  Opportunity?  You’re home instead of at work because you’ve taken the week off for the holidays.  Many people take time off of work during the holidays – I guess.  Opportunity is the 3rd and final element of the fat-fire triangle

Our fat-fire triangle is in now place; hunger, fuel, and opportunity. Yikes! Me thinks me hears a disaster brewing.

No, there’s not tip here from me to you. No lesson to be learned which you don’t already know.  No moral to the story, nor recommendation by me of how to handle these circumstances, or how to eliminate any one of these elements. I just want to point out, from my perspective, why so many people gain weight during the holiday season; it’s the fat-fire triangle.  It’s a cycle only you can avoid – yours to enter, or yours to evade.  But it is your choice alone.  Blame not the cook of the ham, the bringer of the pie, nor the seller of the stuffing.  It is up to you to be strong, to be disciplined, and to make the right choices.  Me? I don’t play with matches. Be well.  rc

3 responses

  1. Well I guess I really lucked out this year!

    1) I had Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s home!

    2) All the food stayed at their home after I left!

    3) I didn’t over eat, so my hunger was status quo!

    I plead doli incapax, as res ipsa loquitur, and throw myself on the mercy of Christmas!

  2. I just follow my every day of the year plan.. exercise as normal, plan for upcoming events, decide what I do & don’t want to eat & just get back to normal the very next day. I really don’t overeat at the holidays anymore. Makes me feel like crap! I pick the treat/treats I want, stick to that & otherwise eat my protein & clean veggies & I am fine with that. I may eat a bit more than normal but it is not much & I plan for it.

    I do NOT bring anything home with me that tempts me… I am not a cook so I never have to be the one entertaining! 🙂

  3. Dr J: Avoid and conquer — love it!

    BTW: Twyla Newell, my 10th grade Latin teacher would, as well as few law professors, would appreciate the quote!!!

    Jody: Agree. If one is committed, it is truly easy t o eat healthy regardless of what surrounds you. I like to believe that I can eat healthy at anyone’s home, and in any restaurant or environment — it’s just a matter of choosing wisely, and choosing sparingly among the unwise options!

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