Is there anything better than the holiday season and its traditions? Christmas trees, Santa, Hanukah Menorahs, Pilgrims, Turkey, Lights, Cake, Candy, Diabetes, Depression, Heart attacks, Obesity. Oh, my! Yes, the holidays are wonderful, but they’re not perfect. They are downright terrible for our health. In fact, according to a recent study, “The number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25 than on any other day of the year, second highest on Dec. 26, and third highest on Jan. 1.”
Our most cherished holiday tradition, it seems, is not family or football or presents under the tree. It’s overindulging. Overindulging is as tempting and revered an American pastime as exists, but it involves consequences and it requires us to delude ourselves into either ignoring or pushing off those consequences until next year. One study showed that 51% of all weight gained for all people throughout the year occurs during the holiday season!
Who wants to wake up on New Year’s Day sluggish and overweight? Why make a resolution because a ball drops? Why not head into the new year on a new, healthy path or, at the very least, without having gained more weight and less health? It can be done. Here is a simple 3 step plan about how to do it.
1) Rest - Did you know that it is virtually impossible to burn fat if you do not get proper rest? Or that 73% of American adults polled do not get at least 8 hours of sleep per night? Travel, parties and shopping at odd hours (black Friday) can magnify this issue. You must make it a priority to get proper rest if you are to deal with…
2) Holiday Stress - Stress releases cortisol, the dreaded hormone that contributes to dangerous belly fat- which releases more cortisol and so on and so on. When did we decide that the “most wonderful time of the year” should be the most stress inducing time of the year? It seems that the anxiety of the holidays is caused, first and foremost, by a simple lack of perspective.
The holidays have somehow become about consumerism and appearances and, at least for some, that means accruing debt and overwhelm in an effort to keep up with the Joneses. Decide what it is you’re trying to achieve this holiday season. Get clear on it. Whatever you decide will be your guide. If you decide what you want is to connect with God and your family, then that will be your focus and it will dictate your levels of joy and stress and the decisions you make. Clarity and perspective alone can go a long way towards relieving the anxiety of the holidays.
3) Plan and Prepare - Cookies and cakes will be delivered to your office. Guests will bring all kinds of metabolism slowing, artery busting treats to your home and your waistline will not be the first thing on the mind of your host when you sit down for holiday meals. Count on it! If you are going to be healthy during the holidays, you must plan and prepare for it.
It may be considered poor manners to call ahead and inquire what’s on the menu, but it’s better than being a statistic. Let’s take it a step further, you’re probably going to bring some type of food item for holiday dinners and parties, how about bringing over a fruit or vegetable plate? During holiday meals, plan to eat a single plate of food. Load it up with veggies, some good protein and good, healthy fats and, if you must go back for seconds and thirds, take only vegetables. When you are full, leave the table! Go watch the game or play with the kids but, whatever you do, do not sit there and test your will against all those delicacies!
The holiday season, like every other time of year, is what you make of it. Cherish the season but don’t be a victim of it. Remember who you are and what it is you’re trying to achieve. And, if not indulging in excess sounds to you like deprivation, get someone to support you in your healthful goals and choose to “deprive” yourself of extra pounds and future illness.
Happy, and healthy, Holidays!
Dr. David Rendelstein offer an all-natural, fully-customized scientific approach to fat burning, weight loss and improved health, with offices in Cranford, Marlboro and Toms River. For more information, call 908.325.5192.
This article appears in the December 2018 Natural Awakenings Magazine Monmouth/Ocean edition. Click here to subscribe, or download the entire edition by clicking on the image below.