Holiday stress isn’t just stress over picking out the perfect gift, figuring out how to afford travel (damn it’s so expensive!) or balancing social commitments. Most people report that being surrounded by rich holiday foods, alcohol, impulse eating, and weight gain during the holiday season adds a significant amount of stress as well.
So as holiday season gets underway I wanted to give you a few tips on how to navigate this tricky but wonderful time of comfort food, decadent desserts, and celebratory toasts.
If there was ever a time that people worry about their weight, it’s during the holidays.
So if you want to stick with foods that are healthy for your body… or, at the very least, you don’t want to undo all of the benefit you’ve gotten from the grounding, the fresh air, the decent sleep and good supplements you take, here are the party foods to look for.
You are almost guaranteed to find at least one of these five treats at any holiday party.
My 5 Favorite Party Foods:
Shown to support heart and brain health, women who consume chocolate on a regular basis actually have a lower body mass index then those who don’t! Want more info on this? Hop over here to read this free article I wrote for you:
2) Caffeinated coffee or tea
Warding off dementia, Alzheimers and depression, even decreasing your risk for developing diabetes… a warm cup of coffee or tea is the perfect way to indulge at a party, guilt free, especially if you can skip the sugar and whipped cream. Want to read more about the health benefits of coffee? Here you go:
Super-powered antioxidants that decrease inflammation throughout your body, enjoy the berries found on that fresh fruit party platter! Best dessert yet? Snag that chocolate covered strawberry and enjoy every single luscious bite… combining #1 with #3 on this list!
Medically proven to lower heart disease risk and boosting energy without causing any weight gain, find the nut bowl and dig in!
5) Deviled Eggs
I saved the best for last. My favorite party food of all time is deviled eggs. I truly believe in eating eggs regularly… the protein and healthy fats are second-to-none. Although traditional recipes for deviled eggs double their calorie content, it’s still so much less calorie dense (at about 160 calories per deviled egg) than almost anything else that you can find at a holiday dinner. And the protein is sure to keep you much more full and decrease your desire to fill your stomach with empty carbs and inflammation-inducing sugar.
If you are truly concerned about keeping calorie counts low, you can always offer to be the one to bring deviled eggs to the party! Using this recipe for a skinny deviled egg (which uses only some of the yolks and substitutes in greek yogurt instead of mayo) each deviled egg is only 37 calories and has 3.8 grams of satisfying, delicious protein!
But what if is the holiday drinks that are stressing you out?
It is possible to buffer your liver — at least a little — during your next holiday toast.
Drinking wine occasionally has enjoyed mixed health reviews, with some studies reporting cognitive benefits from wine (although for those you can simply take resveratrol supplements, which I highly recommend) but many more concerning studies reporting that alcohol increases cancer risk and decreases life span, well outweighing the benefits in my opinion.
And because holiday parties typically mean a lot of driving out and about to attend these parties, my first recommendation is just not to drink at all!
But if you are going to toast the holidays with a drink or two… and you have a safe ride with a designated driver lined up… there are supplements that may help that drink be less toxic to your dear old liver.
Plus, we can’t ignore that even if the recommendation is not to drink at all, there are 140 millions folks (in America alone!) that regularly drink and about 16 million of them have an alcohol abuse disorder.
So instead of ignoring a huge population of folks that need health support, I share this information in an effort to help their body stay as healthy as possible while they seek the help and support they need to stop drinking.
Not providing support for folks who drink is like not providing birth control for those who are sexually active. It’s irresponsible to insist the only option available is total abstinence.
So let’s start with the basics:
Alcohol is metabolized into acetaldehyde by your liver.
If acetaldehyde sounds familiar, you might be be thinking of it’s cousin, the more well known autopsy chemical: formaldehyde.
Yep, they are related, and just like formaldehyde is well known to pickle human tissue, acetaldehyde isn’t very gentle on your liver or body either.
Both are harsh chemicals known to cause cancer.
If you are drinking one drink an hour or more, you can expect to feel cumulative effects of acetaldehyde build up as your body can’t metabolize the acetaldehyde quickly enough: heart racing, pounding, nausea, dehydration, dizziness.
You might call that feeling buzzed or tipsy, but what that really is is the beginning of acetaldehyde poisoning.
How can we protect ourselves from this dangerous metabolite?
Our body can use n-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) + thiamine (B1) to protect against the acetaldehyde effects until our liver can further break the acetaldehyde down into carbon dioxide and water. You can also add on Vitamin C to help keep the l-cysteine activated and working more efficiently as well.
A combination of l-cycsteine, thiamine and vit C (NAC + B1 + Vit C) taken before you start drinking, may help block the toxic effects of the acetaldehyde can help your body recover more easily from those holiday gatherings. There was a very encouraging animal study that showed l-cysteine and thiamine was protective and prolonged the life of rodents who were fed toxic doses of acetaldehyde. Only 10% of animals initially survived a large dose acetaldehyde challenge without supplementation, but 100% initially survived with L-cysteine + thiamine on board! A 100% survival rate in the face of toxic aldehyde poisoning is quite incredible.
Of course, no pharmaceutical company out there has poured money into researching how to reduce harm in humans from alcohol… so there are no large human medical studies to back this up. Because these supplements are safe, cheap, and readily available, pharmaceutical companies know they are unlikely to make a huge profit from pour large amounts of funding into examining how these vitamins might help us preserve and protect our health.
But on the upside, exactly because they are safe and inexpensive and readily available, this means you have easy access to these supportive healing supplements too. Woot! But be sure to stick with very high quality supplements made in fantastic, reputable pharmacy grade nutraceutical facilities.
To help, I have a Party Detox Protocol waiting for you right here in my trusty online dispensary (along with other protocols like Gut Healing Protocol and Immune Boosting Protocol) so that you can be sure you have pharmacy grade, super pure quality supplements on hand to support your body if you do decide to drink this holiday season. Also, it happens to be Cyber Monday today and my entire online pharmacy is on sale — including these protocols — up to 25% off, automatically applied at check out. Woot!
All in all, taking L-cysteine (NAC), thiamine (B1) and Vitamin C before drinking might help spare your body from some portion of the the ill effects of the toxic acetaldehyde.
These supplements are not a recommendation to make drinking safe… rather to make drinking less toxic. Remember, no supplement can make drinking safe. And no supplement can make drinking and driving the slightest bit safe… or morally correct… or legal.
If you are going to drink… don’t drive. Ever.
What else can you do to help support healthy eating at holiday events?
Recognize your emotional eating style.
What I’ve noticed as a physician examining health outcomes for the past 20 years, is that most people eat emotionally instead of nutritionally. To help you focus on what matters most (which is consuming nutrient dense foods) I have developed a list of the top 7 emotional eating patterns I see over and over again.
If you can develop insight into why you eat the way you do, you can reframe your mind away from eating emotionally and instead eat intellectually, based on what supports your health best. Stop worrying so much about what treats and indulgences you crave and instead figure out why you crave them.
Look over this list to see if you can identify which emotional eating pattern describes you best and get some tips on working with your eating patterns in a healthier way:
The 7 Main Eating Styles:
FOOD IS SECURITY:
For some folks, food represents safety and security. So when they are not eating, deep fears of safety and panic may arise. There may be worries about food scarcity and needing to know when and what your next meal will be.
If you notice you overeat, it may be an attempt to feel secure and reassured that all is well. You may crave comfort foods such as casseroles and home cooking and baked goods, or foods that remind you of childhood.
The solution: focus on portion sizes &/or reach for high fiber foods.
If you tend to eat in this way, it is perfectly reasonable to feed your body foods that comfort it, but the goal is to have reasonable portion sizes.
Another way to provide comfort and a deep contentment to security-type eaters is to include lots and lots and lots of fiber, so that you feel full, satiated, safe and grounded for longer.
FOOD IS PLEASURE:
For some folks, food isn’t just about the nutrition, food is about the entire experience… the smell, the feel, the texture, the flavor, the delight in chewing it. Food is pleasurable and even sensual.
If this is your style of eating, you may find you are eating because you want the feel of food in your mouth, not because you are hungry. You may also find a love/hate relationship with food… often pleasure-seeking eaters have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance or celiac disease and need to find a balance between the foods they love and the foods their body hates.
The solution: focus on pleasurable drinks you enjoy &/or consider chewing gum.
One great idea for pleasure eaters is to enjoy drinking (coffees, teas, water, fresh squeezed juices…) or chewing gum throughout the day to experience that sensual pleasure of having sensations in the mouth without necessarily reaching for food.
FOOD IS POWER:
For some folks, eating food is an issue of control or power. These control-based eaters are the ones most likely to try to strictly monitor what they eat and submit to horrible restrictive diets that they absolutely hate!
Healthy eating is not about what you restrict but rather what you eat. So for people who see food as power, diets are particularly offensive because restricting food intake feels like a loss of power or a loss of control… two things these types of eaters hate!
The solution: pick easily digestible foods &/or develop a grazing habit (eating smaller quantities more often.)
One great idea for control-based eaters is to drop the diets and instead focus on choosing easily digestible foods like soups and pureed foods that are easier on your digestive organs (liver, pancreas, stomach) and eating frequent, smaller meals, grazing all throughout the day instead of a few large meals.
Focusing on high quality foods and eating them more often, instead of restricting quantity, tends to be kinder than dieting and allows your body to feel healthier.
FOOD IS LOVE:
Some folks enjoy food that releases endorphins and provides a rush, similar to falling in love. Any of my blog readers who know how often I blog about eating chocolate will recognize… yep, I’m this type of eater.
Romantic foods like oysters, red wine, chocolate… it’s not so much that these eaters care about food, they care about the way the food makes them feel. Dieting feels atrocious for love-seeking eaters and restricting food is equivalent to being dumped by a lover.
The solution: eat with others &/or make your place setting beautiful.
One great idea for love-seeking eaters is to focus on enjoying the people you are eating with more than the food â€” if possible, avoid eating alone (which typically leads to over-eating) and instead really focus on making eye contact with the people you are enjoying a meal with, the conversation. This will allow you to enjoy what foods you do eat — for example, appreciating a lovely glass of wine and a small piece of dark chocolate instead of three plates full of food you do not actually love or even enjoy.
Or, focus just as much on creating a lovely place to eat as you do what foods you are eating. Add a fresh flower to your kitchen table, bring your lunch outside to eat in sunshine the middle of a work day, or browse thrift stores for beautiful, vintage glasses and plates to mix and match, or hand sew some beautiful cloth napkins to use as a treat.
FOOD IS JOY:
Some people just love to enjoy a wide variety of foods and this is one of their wonderful strengths with eating. My son is a joy-based eater and he is amazing at trying foods most children wouldn’t even think of… exotic foods, spicy foods, unusual vegetables that kids traditionally hate. He is open to trying it all and gets so excited as he watches me prepare an interesting meal from scratch.
Because joyful eaters are so open to food, dieting or any type of food restriction at all feels like a huge loss and may even bring deep sorrow.
The solution: increase food variety &/or make meals from scratch.
My favorite recommendation for joy-based eaters is to focus on trying new and unusual foods to satisfy their cravings, instead of over-eating a large quantity of boring foods. Keep a stash of different spices, hot sauces and healthy seasonings to make each bite taste exciting and invigorating instead of needing larger portions to bring joy.
Joy eaters also tend to actually enjoy preparing food, so if you are a joy eater build time into your day to focus on trying new recipes, browsing new cookbooks, and preparing healthy meals from scratch.
Joy-based eaters can feel guilty that food brings them joy… but I say this is a strength! Food brings joy! So choose your food selection based on how much joy it brings you and do not waste your time (or calories) on food that does not bring joy.
FOOD IS ENERGY:
People that eat for energy may need lots more fats and more protein than other eaters. These people have so much energy output that each bite needs to be calorie dense and their body knows this.
Although they get the message to feel bad about eating fats and eating dense protein (after all, eating a light salad seems so much more social acceptable) this leaves them feeling depleted and desperate for a pick-me-up later. They may even feel a sense of shame about eating something that their vegetarian friend (who is not an energy-eater) would not touch.
The solution: focus on protein and fat rich foods.
Instead of feeling guilty, energy eaters need to know that they are honoring their bodies by feeding their brain lots of healthy fats (organic whole fat dairy/butter/yogurt or coconut, avocado, fish oil…) and protein (organic, ethically produced meats, organic eggs, organic nuts and nut butters.).
My daughter is an energy eater, and I can honestly say that she is one of the healthiest people I know. Glowing skin. Gorgeous hair. Beautiful radiant soul. People who are energy eaters need to feel good about their intuitive food choices that make them crave protein. Not everyone can feel their best on a strictly vegetarian diet, so please be non-judgmental towards yourself or your friends who need to eat ethically sourced meat routinely.
FOOD IS OPTIONAL:
Does this sounds familiar: forgetting to eat, not making the time to eat, feeling dizzy because you skipped lunch, reaching for a quick snack and then getting right back to work, forgetting to hydrate? Some folks find it easy to ignore their bodies needs or lose track of time.
While sporadic eaters are usually not so bothered by going on a diet, the danger here is that they often don’t take the time to eat healthily so that when they do eat, they are ravenous and don’t make smart food choices, or they don’t even get the needed nutritional building blocks at all.
The solution: schedule meals & drink water often.
The best thing these eaters can do is to schedule in their eating so that they eat at regular intervals, stay hydrated, and make great food choices… instead of not eating all day long and then binging in a drive through on the way home.
Another great tip is to carry water with you at all times, so that even if they you not taking the time to properly eat, you stay well hydrated. This goes for everyone, but to sporadic eaters most of all.
I hope these insights helps give you an idea of how to work with your own unique energy flow, cravings and health goals. Hopefully this article gave you some great tips on which party foods to gravitate to, how to detox after a holiday toast, and how to recognize the motivation behind your eating style.
And last but not least — if you want more support to safely, easily, and effectively lose weight in a way that supports your innate health, I’ve got you. We can work together to directly support your weight loss goals in my upcoming online health class.
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To your resilient, natural health!