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Celebrate the Holidays Healthfully

Family eating dinner

The holiday season is a joyous time when we celebrate with our family and friends. However, the festivities often present us with tough choices — tempting, unhealthy foods are everywhere. It has become accepted in our culture to use the holiday season as an excuse for a six-week binge on dangerous foods loaded with sugar, fat, and salt.

Maybe overindulging while celebrating the holidays has left you feeling unhealthy and regretful in the past. When you are not in good health, it exacerbates every other problem in your life and contributes to emotional unrest. Don’t wait for the New Year to make a resolution — now is the time to make changes. If you are serious about caring properly for your body — the only body you will ever have, you’ll need to make the commitment to stay on the road to wellness and longevity, even through the tempting holiday season. No excuses. Only you are in charge of your future health.

The holiday eating frenzy causes more than a few extra pounds. The holidays are also associated with trips to the emergency room and deaths due to dangerous eating. The emergency room doctors call it “holiday heart” — the busiest times at hospitals are when heart attacks, strokes and other emergencies occur the morning after a big holiday meal. I take bad nutrition seriously because people die from it. Junk food, including the traditional, disease-promoting foods served at the holidays, may produce momentary pleasure, but the results continue on to compromise your health for a long time to come.

As a first step, remember the acronym G-BOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds. These are the most health-promoting foods in existence — build your diet around them. Watch out for addictive, disease-promoting foods: white flour, sugars, artificial sweeteners, oils, and processed meats. These foods are not only disease-causing, but also addictive.

Here are some strategies for staying on track during the holidays:

  • Always keep your kitchen stocked with fresh and frozen produce.
  • Keep disease-causing foods out of your home to avoid temptation.
  • Budget time: plan out when you will shop for groceries, cook, exercise, relax, and spend time with friends and family.
  • Bring healthy dishes to share when you attend holiday gatherings.
  • Cook warming vegetable bean soups in large batches, and store leftovers in the refrigerator so you can quickly heat some up for lunch or dinner later in the week.
  • Stay focused on your health — eating right is self-care. Do not allow the ubiquitous unhealthy foods around you to derail you from your health goals.
  • Find a healthy living buddy. Commit together to your food and exercise goals. Getting support from a friend will firm up your commitment to yourself.
  • Don’t give in to “food bullies.” Friends, family or co-workers will inevitably push unhealthy foods on you; remain confident in your pursuit of excellent health and decline unhealthy foods in a kind and loving manner. Not only will you be pleased with your food choices, you will give the bullies a chance to learn from your example.

Fast forward to next year’s holiday season: you will effortlessly make the best choices; the ones that will allow you to achieve overall health and quality of life. You’ll be celebrating your health instead of simply indulging in the “traditional” destructive foods. As you eat for optimal health and vitality, you’ll be able to more fully enjoy the special times with family and friends. You will flourish and it will be the most enjoyable holiday season you’ve ever had. There will be no need to “start over” next January 1st. You will already be committed to your health, and feel pleased with yourself for maintaining your healthy habits over the holidays.

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