Fat Malabsorption, a.k.a. “Ballerina Syndrome” We see many clients in our practice with a reduced ability to process fats, so consequently, their body’s...
The overindulgence of the holiday season is probably most evident in the foods bought and served in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Sugar, alcohol, white flour, hydrogenated oils – all foods that are harmful to our health – are served up in abundance and our best intentions are put aside as the holiday season swings into action.
To add insult to injury, many of us feel stressed during the holidays. Not looking forward to seeing that relative who is rude to you? Don’t know what gift to get for that special someone? Have no idea how you are going to pay for all the holiday-related expenses? The list goes on and on. As stress levels go up, our body increases its production of cortisol and adrenaline – two hormones that are upregulated when our bodies are under attack. And make no mistake – both acute and chronic stress are viewed as an attack on the body. These hormones, when combined with our less than perfect holiday diets, are the reason most of us gain those 5-7 pounds of weight over the holidays, feel tired and/or get sick.
Nutritionally speaking, the Holidays are a bad time for our fat and sugar consumption. Did you know that our cell membrane are made from the types of fats we have consumed in the last 90 days? If we are eating processed foods made with hydrogenated oils, our cell membranes become brittle and less able to take in the nutrients we need to fuel our body. This makes us more vulnerable to a host of unpleasant conditions such as DNA damage and the “C” word. Bad fats should never have a place in our diets. Sugar does not get a pass either – did you know that the average American consumes close to 160 pounds of added sugars yearly? No wonder one out of three children born after the year 2000 will develop Type II Diabetes in their lifetime. We don’t have to look further than sugar when assigning blame for the epidemics of obesity, metabolic disease and cancer in our country.
During this Holiday season, I want you to be mindful and have awareness around the foods you take in. Make a conscious connection with nourishing whole foods and leave the bad fats and sugar behind. Make a commitment to follow the 80/20 rule – for eighty percent of the time, eat foods that are what I call “on plan” — those that stabilize blood sugar levels and bolster our stress handling capacity. Leave the “fringe” or “guilty” foods for the twenty percent – as exceptions, eaten consciously and knowing that they can’t hurt you when the majority of your diet is good. When you are at home or in an environment that you can control, choose the healthy options. Leave the “questionables” for holiday-related get-togethers and restaurants. Who knows? If you follow the 80/20 rule, you may actually lose weight!
In the morning, instead of coffee and white toast, drink a green tea and have a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal topped with cinnamon pears and walnuts, or an egg white omelet with goat cheese, greens and berries. The key is to start your day with a healthy protein option such as nuts or seeds, nut butters, eggs, wild-caught salmon or goat cream cheese. Quinoa, although categorized as a grain, is actually a seed that contains all 9 essential amino acids and is one of the few vegan goods that is a complete protein. It cooks up in 15 minutes and can make a delicious hot porridge in the morning. Have the leftovers in a lunch salad or as a substitute side for dinner. By breaking your fast with a protein and complex carbohydrate in the morning, you will stabilize blood sugar levels and eat less during the rest of the day – programming your body for optimal metabolic function.
So many of my clients obsess with macronutrient ratios – “should I be keto? Paleo” or “what is the maximum grams of carbs I can eat?” These considerations pale in importance when thinking about micronutrients – what vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is the food I am eating providing me with? Is my food rich in minerals like magnesium and vitamins like B12 and C – all of which support my adrenal glands and hundreds of other functions in the body? If the answer is NO, include more brown rice, citrus and berries in your diet.
Starting with a protein-rich breakfast should really help in this area. But if you already know that you hit that dreaded afternoon slump, make an effort to stave it off – have a snack of healthy seeds or nuts 30 minute to an hour before the usual slump-time! Now here is where portion control is important. You do not want to eat a huge bag of almonds – you will become overfull and spoil your appetite for dinner. Plan to have 15-20 almonds – this should give you the energy you need to get through your day without jeopardizing your Holiday weight management goals!
Stick to a lean protein, leafy greens and a salad for dinner. This should help manage blood sugar and weight!
I apologize ahead of time if you have heard some of these before – they work! Follow these and enjoy your social gatherings.
I hope I have given you the tools you need to enjoy this holiday season without guilt, deprivation or weight gain! Follow the 80/20 rule and don’t give up on the 80% just because you overindulged on your 20%. Get back on the horse so to speak – it’s never too late. Select carefully, chew thoroughly, savor, connect with your food, thank it for the nutrition it provides and focus on the real important stuff – your loved ones, holiday music and the unlimited potential to be the best that you can be!
Teri received her Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, she is a graduate of the Huntington College of Health Sciences, The National Institute of Nutritional Education, the National Leadership Institute, and the Upledger Institute. Teri is a Certified Nutritionist and a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners and National Association of Nutrition Professionals. She also has certifications and extensive experience in holistic medicinal practices.