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A Happy, Healthy Holiday Season Part 1: Don’t bite off more than you can chew

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December 18, 2012 | Published by


 

friends eating holiday meal

Overeating and over-consumption of refined, sugary, fatty, or caffeinated foods and alcohol (all plentiful this time of year) can wreak all sorts of havoc on your body, like:

  • Promoting inflammation
  • Causing weight gain
  • Impairing mood and concentration
  • Lowering energy levels
  • Disrupting blood sugar balance
  • Increasing stress and fatigue
  • Inducing irritability
  • Contributing to chronic diseases (such as high blood pressure and diabetes)
  • Interfering with sleep
  • Hampering immune function

Even worse, the types of foods that are most problematic are often the very ones stacked high on the serving tables at parties and holiday gatherings and in gifts from well-intentioned friends. Individuals with food allergies or sensitivities have greater challenges than most finding foods that support their health, but whoever you are, unless you hibernate all winter, you will probably go at least a few rounds with some challenging food choices over the next couple of months.

Here are some things you can do to support healthy choices even as those visions of sugarplums dance through your head:

  • Be realistic and let go of perfectionism. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, so to speak. Food-wise the holidays are rough, so mid-December is probably not the best time to try and lose 20 pounds or begin an elimination and challenge diet. Commit to supporting your health the best you can and forgive yourself if you stumble. Don’t use one misstep as an excuse to wander further and further away from your ultimate goals.
  • Clarify and define your overall health priorities then create action steps based on these. If you decided you wanted to complete a marathon, you wouldn’t run 26 miles the following day. You’d start with baby steps, perhaps simply walking and running for 30 minutes the first day. Take the same approach with your dietary goals. Create manageable daily strategies that support your overall objectives. (For example: Overall objective = Stabilize blood sugar to support consistent energy and mood; Daily strategy = Eat at least 3 oz. protein at each meal.)
  • Create a food log. Yes, it’s inconvenient, annoying, and often sobering to record every morsel of food that goes into your mouth, but that is exactly why writing down everything you eat is one of the best ways to achieve your dietary goals. Instead of stating a goal and then forgetting about it, the log makes you accountable. If you not only record what you eat, but also when you eat and how you feel both physically and emotionally before and after, your journal may provide you with valuable insights about which foods make you feel better or worse.
  • Get a buddy. Like the food log, a buddy provides accountability for your actions, but a friend’s support can do even more. A pal can encourage you to persist when you want to quit, strategize with you for a problematic party, offer suggestions when you run up against road blocks, and even join you in a daily walk or collaborate on healthy cooking projects. Just having someone remind you of why you’ve undertaken the changes you have can be invaluable.
  • Eat more soup. Non-cream based soups can be a great source of nutrition. They supply water, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and sometimes fiber and protein. In addition, researchers found that when people ate soup before a meal, they reduced their total calorie intake at that meal by 20%.1

Continue to part 2, where I offer more suggestions for a happy, healthy holiday.

References:
1. Flood JE, Rolls BJ. Soup preloads in a variety of forms reduce meal energy intake. Appetite. 2007 Nov;49(3):626-34. Epub 2007 Apr 14.

Dr. Lise NaugleAbout the Author: Dr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.


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