It starts with Halloween and ends New Year’s Day. Eating season. Temptations are everywhere. People bring their leftover Halloween candy to work or it fills lunch bags to get rid of the excess. Candy is on sale in the stores in giant bags. This leads into Thanksgiving and moves right along to holiday parties and family gatherings. TV commercials are all about holiday meals. Shopping malls are filled with holiday smells, candy, and sweet treats. Diabetes, heart disease, and indigestion is in the air. Don’t forget the salt and fat load associated with these meals. Endothelial dysfunction looms constricting arteries for hours on end. Blood pressures soar. People throw diet plans out the window to await the New Year with a renewed gym membership. There is no time for exercise with all of the extra shopping and decorating that needs to be done. There are actually more hospital admission for heart failure and heart attacks during this time.
But we act as though we did not see it coming. I can’t believe it! I felt so good. How many holiday seasons can one survive? A time of joy and celebration that is associated with some of the worst health all year. Can this be cured with a Turkey trot or a Jingle jog? Doubtful, but it is a start.
My grandmother was a fabulous Irish cook and baker. She started baking Christmas cookies after Thanksgiving and stored them in the “back room” that was not heated. She would make a different batch each week. That is a stick of butter and a cup of sugar minimum for each dozen. Don’t forget the chocolate chips, M &Ms, fruit fillings and icings. They were good and it was how she showed her lover for the family. We know better now.
Sugar, flour, fat, and salt and over eating contributes to all lifestyle diseases. There is no such thing as moderation of these high calorically dense foods. We can still celebrate and enjoy each others company without killing each other. Someone has to be the first to say we are not going to do this to ourselves.
Let’s make a pack. The first step is to maintain or increase exercise during these calorie dense times. Do sign up for the Turkey Trot, the Jingle Jog and put an event on the calendar to train for. Perhaps a spring wedding, ski trip or another vacation that would be more enjoyed if you were in excellent health. Keep a calendar of your activities completed. Get a walking buddy. Exercise first. Park far away at the grocery stores and malls. Do not get delivery meals. Cook your own food. Bring food to share at work and at office parties that are healthy. If you have a party that is at a restaurant, call ahead and see what the options are and select them in advance. I often hear there were no good options. Most of the time that is poor planning and a head in the sand rationale. There are choices, they just are not the ones you really want. The other option is to eat a healthy lunch and then plan on a snack afterwards if you ate “nothing”. “Picking” counts for hundreds of calories that are quickly forgot. My grandmother used to say that my aunt “could eat more with a toothpick than a grown man with a fork”. Have an accountability partner that sticks with you. Have a great time socializing and call it an intermittent fast? People are upset if someone passes on the flu at a party but diabetes or a heart attack is ok?
There is nothing better than getting together with friends and family over the holidays, but you do not have to take years off of your life in the process. Tasty deserts can be made without sugar, salt and oil. Fruit and vegetable arrangements are great fun to make with the family. Be creative. Slicing store bought dough and baking it is not creative. Opening tins of store bought cookies is not creative. Start new traditions that reflect a desire for healthy living and show you care. It takes one person to start a trend. Be a health innovator!
We will be showcasing holiday recipes over the next few months in our office nutrition class and in the newsletters. If you have not signed up for the newsletter you may do so by clicking on the link at http://doctordulaney.com. If you are looking for a healthy tribe we would love to welcome you to ours.