Proper Holiday Eating

Survive the holidays without getting fat

Holidays are a time to celebrate life, give thanks for what we have, and to remember loved ones that have passed.  Holidays bring a mixture of joy and reminiscences that bring a plethora of emotions from good to bad.  Some emotions we don’t fully understand because time has faded the edges and yellowed the pages of our memories.  Sometimes this fading is an ego defense to spare us the recurring pain of traumatic childhood events that we don’t wish to deal with on a conscious level.  Unresolved subconscious anxiety can attempt to dimiminish itself by using food as a drug.

Carbohydrates are the food of choice for individuals seeking stress relief because they allow for more bio available serotonin.  Serotonin is the “feel good” neural transmitter.  Many people crave carbohydrates — especially cookies, candy, or ice cream — when they feel upset, depressed, or tired.Several research studies have uncovered interesting facts about carb cravers.  “Carb craving is part of daily life,” says Judith Wurtman, PhD, a former scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet.  She and her husband, MIT professor Richard J. Wurtman, have long researched carbohydrates and their link to mood and depression.The Wurtmans published a landmark article about carbs and depression in Scientific American in 1989. They are convinced that the carbohydrate craving is related to decreases in the hormone serotonin, which is marked by a decline in mood and concentration. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that carb cravers who have a mildly depressed mood seem to be self-medicating.

Taking into consideration the aforementioned variables coupled with the added stress of gift buying, large meal preparation, added financial expenditures, and dealing with our loving but always slightly dysfunctional families we still wonder why we have problems with controlling our eating? Eating is a basic primal pleasure necessary for survival.  It is hard wired into us to ensure the proliferation of the species.  The sucking reflex is what keeps us alive as babies but can easily transform itself into an unhealthy relationship with food as other psychological issues stress us.  So what to do?

  • Put all your food on one plate so you can truly evaluate how much you are going to eat.  Fixing a small plate of food and then having seconds and thirds is living in denial.
  • High calorie food can be eaten, but in small portions.
  • Eliminate mixers with drinks unless they are low calorie.
  • Try to eat small meals throughout the day, not one huge meal at night.
  • Drink plenty of water to give the stomach feelings of satiation.
  • Try to keep consistent sleep patterns even with the holiday rush.
  • Maintain good exercise habits.
  • The old adage of leaving the table slightly hungry might also be applicable.
  • Enjoy the Holidays be joyous, not gluttonous, left overs taste good.