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By Dr. Julie Monica

Not only is the holiday or “Eating” season about to unfold, it arrives incumbered with many added changes and stresses this year.  More time spent in our homes is a change many of us share. This combination – more home time and the holidays – equals more time to cook and bake and honor all those past traditions. And it feels good.  But let’s give this some thought!

Of course, food has always been a part of celebrating.  But maybe we need to change our food intake around a bit as everything else is changing.

There has been a lot of buzz about the “Covid-19 15,” which is weight gain that is a culmination of less exercise and more food intake.  So yes, it is especially important to rein in some better eating habits now before this next prime time for extra pounds, a.k.a. the holidays, arrives.  We need to understand some guidelines and create some hard and fast habits to get us through this.  With that said, certain traditions may actually morph and improve with us in these times.  Instead of more holiday cooking, try keeping it more functional, focusing on alternative family interactions and fun inside and outside, for instance.

At the end of the holidays it could be so detrimental to have gained back the weight just lost during the summer months – and then continue to through the winter.

Some say that fatigue and even depression dampen their holiday season. These things are so common and widespread but somewhat avoidable.  Especially now, we need to also continue to keep our immune system and metabolic health (blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference) in check.

Starting with a mindful, pragmatic approach in the way of defining where and when we eat those holiday meals is a powerful start.  Most of us really just have a few celebratory gatherings.  Targeting those meals and not allowing ourselves to eat through the entire holiday goes a long way.  Being consistent with our current, health-positive food and vitamin intake will also create balance, but it takes some daily effort.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The day of any party we want to eat our other, regular, healthful meals and supplements – only.
  • Start out anchoring your meal with protein and veggies, then add your holiday food.  That can even be sweets, which have less impact on blood sugar when eaten (and digested) with a meal.
  • Don’t stuff!  It is over as any other meal ends.  Don’t keep eating.
  • “Bring a Dish.”  If you always baked and brought the cupcakes, consider change and opt to bring a new, healthy creation. Lower carbohydrates are paramount.
  • Choose calorie-free drinks like water, teas and mineral water instead of festive drinks and sodas.
  • Continue your workouts and stay on your schedule!  So important for your continuous, metabolic balance.
  • Keep alcohol to a minimum.  At this time when we have so many added obligations and demands – even keeping ourselves healthy – we need our energy.  Why zap it?
  • Avoid the candy and cookies and even holiday liquor offered almost everywhere you go and shop.

Follow these tips and achieve better sleep.  As much as these food and nutrition tips address our physical health, the impact on energy and mood also is very significant and is primarily what drives our ability and mental attitude to keep motivated and energized to make these better choices consistently.