Tis’ the season. Oh No! What is going to happen to my waistline, not to mention my will power and my self-respect? This time of year provides many opportunities to let our schedule slip and probably, to some extent, it should. In the Bible there were times of feasting that were intended to provide additional pleasure for God’s people. Feasts were designed to be a time for people to “rejoice”, (Deuteronomy 16:13-15). However, we all know what it feels like to completely throw discipline out the window and then have to cope with feelings of guilt and play “catch up” after the deed has been done. But there is hope. Discipline and pleasure don’t have to be strangers. They can actually work together to provide a relatively guilt-free, and fun season to bring in the New Year.
So how can this become a time to enjoy rather than a time to endure? First, consider some possible substitutions for the things that you like. For example, substitutes for sugar do not have to be artificial and can actually help to regulate blood glucose levels rather than raising or lowering them. Stevia is a naturally sweet shrub from Asia and South America which is used to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels in Europe and other parts of the world. It can be used in its pure form, which contains no carbohydrates, or in a form combined with maltodextrin, which has only 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving. It is offered in powder and liquid as well as single serving packets for when you are on the road. Stevia can be mixed with hot chocolate, protein shakes, baked in cookies, brownies, etc. Other forms of natural sugars include maltitol, which is available in many forms of candy and protein bars, and xylitol, a natural sugar from birch trees. If you prefer you can use cane sugar, or sucanat which is raw sugar that has not been processed by heat to remove all the natural ingredients. Date sugar, fructose (fruit sugar), and turbinado sugar all enter the blood stream more slowly and can be a better choice than refined sugar.
One of the real taste treats that most people want to avoid is MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). This is a flavor enhancer that is added to foods in order to mask the fact that most of the natural flavor has been cooked out and poured down the drain. This one requires some homework since MSG can be listed by many different names such as Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Hydrolyzed Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein, Autolyzed yeast, Hydrolyzed oat flour, and many others. Obviously be suspicious of anything with the word “hydrolyzed” in the name. Many people complain of nausea, dizziness, heart palpitation and other unpleasant reactions after eating MSG.
For most of us the fat-free fad came and went but not fast enough. It was no fun at all and it was a lifestyle most people couldn’t or wouldn’t live. But many foods are available that reduce the fat without cutting it out altogether. Some potato chips and corn chips have 50% less fat than normal and taste pretty good. Combine that with no fat or low fat sour cream and you can keep the flavor without the guilt. Good fats like Olive Oil, and butter-yes butter can be eaten in moderation, for most of us, while avoiding the heart wrenching effects of margarine which contain hydrogenated fats (those that harden at room temperature).
Eating fewer carbohydrates, which also have a negative impact on blood sugar is getting easier as low carb energy bars have become available. These have only 20 grams of carbs on the average with little or no sugar. Eating lean meat, raw milk cheese and eggs can help with the carbohydrate and protein balancing act.
One of the things that usually backfires at buffets and parties is disastrous food combining. Although this is not the time to make drastic changes, one simple rule can help relieve indigestion and its after effects. If you are going to eat protein and carbohydrates at the same meal, try eating some of the protein first. Even eating a few bites of protein sends a message to the digestive system that protein is coming down. The stomach then releases enzymes and digestive juices that are suited to digesting protein. This scenario makes it easier to digest the carbs (other than fruit). With fruit it is better to eat it alone, without any other food. Try eating fruit one half hour before a meal or at least two hours after a meal. It makes a great between-meal snack. Mixed with a small amount of raw milk cheese or nuts often works O.K. Let your stomach be your guide.
Taking additional digestive enzymes can be useful as well. Put them in a zip-lock bag, or a compact capsule container, and take them everywhere you go. Healthy Way offers a selection of quality solutions.
Digestive support from mint, ginger and other spices can help reduce that “too full” feeling as well, especially if they are combined in a formula that provides both strength and balance. The team at Healthy Way can provide some soothing suggestions.
This is also a good time of year to “walk off” some of the extra festivities. The cold crisp air is very rejuvenating. If it hurts the knees and back to walk on the pavement, try a drive out of town or to a local park just for the purpose of walking or if you don’t have the time try the running track at the local High School. Most running tracks are a quarter mile per lap so it is easy to record how far you walk and the track is either dirt or it is rubberized to reduce the shock to the joints. Start slow and take it easy at first.
In summary…MODERATE, DON’T ELIMINATE. Enjoy this time of year with friends and family without feeling that it will be necessary to “pay the piper” next year… or at least pay as little as possible.
Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., A Fireside Book Published by Simon & Schuster (c) 1992
Are you confused? by Dr. Paavo Airola, Health Plus Publishers (c) 1971
Excitotoxins, The Taste that Kills. By Russell L. Blayock, M.D., Health Press (c) 1997.