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Mom’s Old-School Hostess’ Hacks Trigger The ‘Ozempic Hormone’

Posh, pleasing, penny-saving ways to start any meal could help you feel satisfied, reach a healthy weight, and avoid blood sugar swings and mood swings.

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photo gif of different veggies appearing on silver tray, Ozempic hormone, weightloss
AARP (Getty Images, 6)
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What's your favorite vegetable, and how do you like it prepared? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Hey, did your mom or grandma have one of those “pickle dishes” or partitioned “relish trays” for when company came for dinner back in the day? My mom had several. She was proud of her pretty tag-sale China and crystal finds: punch bowls, soup tureens, salt cellars. Remember that stuff?

In the 60’s and 70s Mom’s go-to server was a long, six-sided cut glass dish apparently used only for celery sticks. Somehow, the green stalk offered in this way was no longer a brown-bag lunch item but hospitality’s height of sophistication.

When I come across one of her old relish trays, salt cellars… or tarnished silverplate ladles…I really appreciate those healthy meals mom served with love and a huge helping of retro style.

As a kid, I never got that. (Turns out, in the Victorian era, hard to grow heirloom varieties were an upper-class delicacy, displayed as holiday centerpieces; later, celery was served to first-class passengers aboard the Titanic. Mom had a delightful streak of Salvation Army saditty.) Carrots, pickles, radishes and of course olives—the green ones with the pimentos in them—also got the party started.

Starter-course smackdown: Bread vs. veggies vs. meat plus veggies

That was my flashback when I read a recent Journal of the American Nutrition Association article that suggests the manner in which we eat—not just what’s on the menu—makes a difference in how well we metabolize a meal. The 2023 review of studies found that eating veggies and/or protein before enjoying the carb-rich foods in the same meal resulted in lower blood sugar levels.

Drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are GLP-1 agonists, according to the Mayo Clinic. They mimic certain intestinal hormones linked to satiety.

Earlier, a study led by researchers in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine switched the order in which middle aged prediabetic men and women ate grilled chicken, an Italian roll and a garden salad. Salad or bread traded places as the starter, with the remainder of the meal served after a ten-minute pause. A third option served the salad and poultry together, followed by the bread.

The diners who started with veggies (or with veggies and chicken together) had lower blood sugar spikes than those who started with bread. Those who started with veggies needed to release the least amount of insulin to move the post-dinner glucose out of their bloodstream and into the body’s cells to make energy. Stable sugar also supports a stable mood.

Pass the probiotics, the prebiotics and the pickles please

So, out of the lab, these findings might inspire whether we start a meal off with say, a breadbasket, a charcuterie plate of meat and veggies, or simply some crudités and pickles. Veggies like mushrooms, asparagus and celery are prebiotic, containing fiber that we can’t digest, which then becomes a Vegas-style buffet for our healthy gut bacteria. Prebiotics may support healthy weight by downshifting the brain’s reward response to rich foods.

Speaking of pickles, the fermented (slowly, under seasoned salt water) kind you might find in the refrigerator case contain those good-for-the-gut probiotics. The shelved ones quickly preserved in vinegar tend not to. Probiotics are mighty microorganisms that help evict the bad bacteria living rent-free in our intestines. Look for the terms “fermented” or “lacto-fermented” on the label. Check the sodium content too if you are watching your intake.

OK, so what about that “Ozempic hormone?”

Drug or diet changes should be discussed with your doctor.

Weight loss and diabetes drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are GLP-1 agonists, according to Mayo Clinic. They mimic certain intestinal hormones linked to satiety (the satisfied feeling that you’ve had enough to eat). Research published in the journal Nutrients suggests that consuming protein and/or fat with fiber before having carbs aids the secretion of this hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).

Research published in the journal Nutrients suggests that consuming protein and/or fat with fiber before eating carbs aids the secretion of this hormone. 

Is this why 70s hostesses spread peanut butter or cream cheese (it was hummus in the 80s) on that celery? In our classic relish tray, the fat source would be olives. Conventional wisdom is that the cold “starter” or simple appetizer takes the edge off diners’ hunger while the main course is being prepared. But since it takes about 20 minutes for our brains to register fullness, according to Web MD, eating more slowly helps us to get there without overeating. The high fiber content in veggies like raw celery will have you chewing for a while!

I am sometimes a bit nostalgic for how “outmoded” customs we’ve abandoned support healthy, balanced living. True, you don’t have to write a guest list and break out vintage crystalware to start a meal with raw or fermented veggies. Today’s mindful eating trends lean into that. But shared meals also help us to flourish emotionally and physically. In fact, frequently eating alone has been linked to poorer nutrition, cognitive problems, depression and obesity.

When I come across Mom’s old relish trays, salt cellars (for a lower-sodium sprinkle rather than a heavy-handed shake) or tarnished silverplate ladles (vegetable and bean soups are nutrient-dense starters) I really appreciate her healthy holiday meals. She served them with love—and a huge helping of retro style.

What's your favorite vegetable, and how do you like it prepared? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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