Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Successful Patient: Eating During the Holidays

Along with all the glitter and sparkle of holiday decorations come foods designed to appeal to our fat-and-sugar-hungry stomachs.  Christmas cookie exchanges.  Baking contests.  Fruitcake, with or without rum or brandy.  Egg nog, and other festive alcoholic drinks.  All kinds of fudge.  Pies.  Petit Fours.  And Christmas Eve dinner, then Christmas dinner. Ah, how we love to eat during the holidays!

And how sorry we are that we did come January....

For healthy people with healthy gastrointestinal systems, the once a year gorging probably doesn't do much damage.  But if you're someone with a chronic illness or two, it's in your best interest to be careful what you eat during the holidays.  I have a specific Successful Patient strategy to share with you.

First, what is your inner self-talk like? Are you an enabler for yourself? If you are, you probably have self-talk that sounds like this: "It's the holidays!  I'm already in great shape.  I can always exercise and diet in January.  Now, I'm going to enjoy myself!"  Then in January, your inner voice probably guilts you to the extreme, right?  You can change your inner voice by deciding to replace that voice with another.  When the old voice starts in, just think, "No, I know what's best for me. I know that eating in moderation is best, and I can still enjoy the food.  I want to do what's best for me."

Ninety percent of dealing with the holidays in a healthful and constructive way is in the mind, I've learned.  But it's really important to replace the old message with a new, more positive and healthful one.  If you just think, "No, I'm not going to think that way" you still will.  And don't be surprised if you need to repeat the new message a lot.  

Second, count calories.  If you absolutely cannot do that, think in terms of "little tastes" or decide before the party or dinner that you'll keep your portions small.  Moderation should be the rule for everyone during this time.  But the food tastes so good, and it's so hard to say no.

Third, limit your sugar intake. All those cookies don't taste any better or any different by the 20th. Fudge is pure sugar!  Candy is 99% sugar.  I say "no thanks" to all of it, actually, especially in the office where it's very common to have it everywhere.  Remember, also, that all those fancy alcoholic drinks and coffees are loaded with calories!

Fourth, continue to exercise during the holidays.  Just because we have these holidays with lots of parties, food, etc. doesn't mean you need to stop exercising.  Just the opposite.  I love to walk during the holidays, especially around the neighborhood in the evening to look at all the fun decorations. Watch out for the ice, though!

Finally, use your common sense. You do know what's best for you and your body -- lots of fresh vegies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and fish. Instead of filling your large plate to overflowing, use a small plate.  Instead of baking 10 different kinds of cookies, bake 5.  Instead of stuffing in your food, nibble.  And instead of drinking a lot of alcohol, be the designated driver!

The best gift that you can give yourself?  Take care of your body every minute of every day.  Your body is your first home.  It makes your physical existence possible, and has amazing systems and incredible heart and brain.  Be a Successful Patient by taking care of yourself.

Happy Holidays to all my readers!


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