The hypothalamus is a central player in how the brain reacts to stress and food. It is the “brain” of the endocrine system and regulates what it dumps into our bodies hormonally/chemically. If we prolong our stress, we release high levels of cortisol. When the high level remains in our bodies for an extended period of time, it contributes to prolonged high blood sugar and the accumulation of fat. It can lead to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and weight gain.
Stress and food are part of life – an appropriate amount of stress is needed to cause us to change and act when a situation needs attention versus react when we hold onto stress. We need to deal with our stress with activity/movement, rest breaks and unplugging for true relaxation – not turning to white sugar and white flour for a two-hour high followed by a crash. We need food to live, yes…but what I am proposing is not to feed your soul with WHITE flour and sugar; don’t feed your stress with cookies, pies and candy…but refocus on the reason for the season and feed your body with what will sustain true life. It has nothing to do with Santa, presents and sugar laden desserts…but with the birth of Christ.
Christmas is a continuation of Thanksgiving – a time where we elevate gratitude and give it a special day. Likewise with Christmas – it’s about celebrating the birth of Christ… not bringing back unhealthy traditions; or alternative meanings like Santa and Elf on a Shelf or living in the fear of saying Merry Christmas to people who say the PC Happy Holidays.
So this Christmas leave behind the self-induced stress of shopping for gifts people don’t need in our abundant American lifestyles. Let go of the “White Christmas” of yester year or media images of “have this and be happy” which have crept into Jesus Birthday celebration and tarnished our prolonged season of gratitude and thanksgiving.
It’s time to say No to a White Christmas and make this Christmas one in which you start healthy traditions. Keep the pretty colors just use green and red fruits as treats, and update family recipes with healthy substitutions or cut them all together and start your own healthy traditions. Challenge your family to bring healthy foods to gatherings and celebrate life. Give yourself and your family that true gift of your time by being present with them and offering well-being versus a sugar comma. High blood glucose, lethargy and weight gain by eating white flour and sugar.
If you change your mind about how you view certain foods or traditions and deal with your stress appropriately, you can change the outcome of your celebrations. Focus on the real reason for the season and get away from the Modern American Diet (MAD) of white sugar and flour, processed foods/fast foods and the over indulgence of it all. Take a vacation from hurry sickness, toxic stress and overload, entitled children and the MAD way of eating. Get back to eating close to the source, celebrate the real source of CHRISTmas, the birth of Christ and say NO to a White Christmas!
Here are 10 quick tips to have a NO White CHRISTmas…
- Eat light this Christmas season: A colorful salad full of veggies (50 to 55 percent of your plate), add chick peas, cheese or sliced meat for protein (20 to 25 percent of your plate) and a complex carb (20 to 25 percent of your plate) like sliced pears, mandarin oranges or strawberries.
- Make good, better and best choices: Eat close to the source – apple versus apple pie mentality.
- Plan ahead: Eat a good meal before you go to a party so that you can pass up high calorie snacks. Spend your time with people, not at the snack table. Instead of being tempted by unhealthy snacks at gatherings, eat a healthy meal before you go.
- If you’re doing potluck, make sure you offer to bring a healthy choice you can eat. Bring the recipe so you can share it and encourage others to do the same.
- Offer to host the event yourself, and serve only healthy choices. Start a new tradition the entire family can benefit from. Avoid the high calorie foods with white sugar and flour.
- Instead of having a dessert table, have a vegetable and fruits table (eating close to the source, best choices) with colorful choices to fill your plate. Have one or two dessert choices, pre-cut into small serving sizes or individually wrapped.
- Substitute apple sauce, pumpkin or egg whites in recipes to reduce the fat. Use whole grains instead of WHITE flours…use honey or brown sugar to sweeten and cut the white sugar. Most recipes have tons of white sugar, if you absolutely need to make it – cut the sugar in half …you’ll never miss it! Then limit yourself to one versus half the tray, cut servings into bite size pieces and individually wrap them. IF you are at an event, keep all your plates and wrappers to see how much you’ve eaten and limit yourself to one small plate, or one dessert. When you lose count the calories still count…you can’t cheat them.
- Make limited quantities of treats if you feel you need them…who does? The joy in CHRISTmas should not be in food; it should be in the birth of Christ, celebrating that gift.
- Make the line: “Yes, I’m trying to eat healthy; and No, I am not on a diet, this is a lifestyle” your new anthem. Where clothes that are fitted and with a waistband not stretchy clothes or loose-fitting ones. You’ll be more aware of what you put inside when your clothes remind you to keep it in check. Workout before you go to an event, even if it’s five minutes of squats, lunges and push-ups before you hit the shower…remembering how hard you work to be in shape will remind you that round isn’t the shape you want to be.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages, hot cider, hot chocolate or cocktails they are full of sugar and carbs. Experience clarity this Christmas and substitute some skinny cocktails, low carb beer or make beautiful infused waters and teas for guests or your family. You’ll feel better and avoid consuming calories most people don’t count in beverages.