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Turkish Delight…Bright Lights and Flavored Goodies - By Dr Mike Colson

Turkish Delight is a holiday treat made from starch and sugar, flavored with rosewater and lemon, and an absolute terror on tummy lines. It is also pleasing to the eye, delightfully delicious, and ever so conspiratorially addictive. I think of this treat when remembering the DFAC’s (chow halls) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bright lights, welcoming windows displaying all sorts of food items, deserts, ice cream, main meals, sandwich lines, special steak and lobster events, salad bars with olives as big as jawbreakers, all the drinks and snacks you can carry. The place resembles a real life cornucopia that I am sure is designed to help relieve us from the pressures of arduous work.

It was always a real joy to enter – with weapon! – the DFAC and get stuck into some eating. Of course, too much “delight” has a cost. Especially if there are stressors in our lives that have the potential to unbalance the delicate system by which we live healthy lives.

Food is a great source of relief besides all the positive social rewards we gain from the activity. In both British and American 21st Century living, eating out is popular as well as convenient and standard for most of us. Even “British tea” had found its niche as a civilized way to share sustenance and conversation. When we are stressed, uncomfortable, working too hard, sick, conflicted on any level, or a combination of all of these the food emporium is a welcome respite.

At issue with the DFAC and all its goodness is that we can – if slightly out of kilter as mentioned above – be over-stimulated by the bright lights and food options. And this over-stimulation can impact how we decide (control) both quantity and type of food we indulge in. As an example, take caloric intake. A nibble here, a dollop there, and a stout main course at one meal, according to recent research, can add up to the total required caloric intake (1350 calories) for the whole day. If we eat two or three more times the math is horrifying. That’s because a single tablespoon of mayonnaise has 100, one hamburger 440, and a small vanilla frosty 155 calories respectively and I haven’t yet started counting the fries.

The second issue is how comfort foods sooth us. And they really work in that capacity. At issue is what has been described as “cortisol toxicity”, when the body for whatever reason begins storing fats and other food attributes under stress as a form of “future defense.” It is preparing for some level of survival – and - might even be assisting us in how we select what foods we eat. It is not uncommon for eating habits to change. Have yours?

One way to find balance (i.e. “rage against the cornucopia?”) is to take back control. Set caloric intake goals. And if necessary, work with a medical nutrition specialist to assist in meeting intake and overall weight and health objectives. When I returned from Iraq I personally lost 26 pounds (12 kilos) by only eating lower calorie foods across the food groups. Never dieted. Never felt hungry. And though I play soccer twice weekly, never hit the gym. What we can learn is how to control the natural urges we get from complicated and often arduous work schedules.

There are virtual medical weight management information that MCA Services would be happy to provide. Remember – MCA Services is a resource for you and your family and supported by donations.