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Healthy Eating over the Holidays

You know the scenario: after only a few days of overindulging in the wrong kind of foods, you can't fit into those fabulous slacks you were going to wear to the New Year's celebration.

You feel bloated and discontent. Take heart! Here are some simple measures you can employ to avoid gaining weight and feeling depressed during the holidays.

What are your best food choices for maintaining your weight and feeling great during the holidays?

First, we must acknowledge that there are a variety of healthy diets, one of which may be better for you than others. You may feel best with very little or no protein and minimal fats from meat or dairy, and plenty of fresh, raw vegetables, fruits, with a little fish. A friend or family member may only feel good on a diet that includes an abundance of red meat and eggs. Yet others do well on a Mediterranean or South Beach style nutritional program. All of these choices are good for different people.

No matter what kind of healthy diet you prefer, you will feel better and succeed in maintaining your weight, or even losing weight during the holidays if you follow the tips provided here.

Always Remember That Most Processed Food is Bad For You

Many nutrients, such as vitamin C, enzymes, and B vitamins are rendered useless by temperatures over 150 degrees. Processed foods such as chips and canned foods are often heated to temperatures exceeding 500 degrees. Anything canned or bottled has been pasteurized. Even if the label says vitamins were added, you don"t know if they were added and then destroyed in the pasteurization process.

All processed foods are, to a greater or lesser extent, a nutritional wasteland. In fact, foods lacking enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients needed for digestion and absorption usually deplete nutrients from your body during the digestive process. This can leave you feeling tired and depleted if you ingest a significant quantity of "empty calorie" foods.

1 - As much as possible, avoid or minimize refined carbohydrates such as confectioner"s sugar, corn syrup and white flour. Candy canes, ribbon candy, cakes and soft drinks contain copious amounts of sugar.

Also, remember that all alcoholic beverages are, in essence, "super carbohydrates." You will minimize the glycemic effect (blood sugar high and subsequent crash) if you eat some protein and fat, such as some cheese or fish, before consuming alcohol or sweets.

2 - Avoid potato chips, corn chips, and all other highly processed junk food snacks. Yes, they may taste good, and it's satisfying to eat something crunchy. But potato chips, for example, have been found to contain a substance called acrylamide. Acrylamide is formed when foods containing starch are fried or baked at high temperatures. High heat alters the molecular structure of starches (as well as protein and fats), turning them from beneficial nutrients into toxins. These toxins have been found to be cancer-causing.

Interestingly, Reuters news agency reported that The Environmental Law Foundation in California has filed notices with the state attorney general against the following potato chip manufacturers of the following brands: Lay's, Pringles, Cape Cod, and Kettle Chips. This is just one example of why it is good to avoid processed foods.

Here are examples of a few other chemicals commonly found in commercial foods:

1) Monosodium glutamate is known as an excititoxin. It literally overstimulates brain neurons to the point where they self-destruct. Loss of memory and hyperactivity are two common results.

2) Coloring agents have been shown to be cancer-causing.

3) Most preservatives are hazardous to health. Nitrate, for example is directly linked to the development of cancer.

You are far better off reaching for celery and carrot sticks, apples, cheese, nuts and other whole food snacks, and totally avoiding processed junk food. For meals, choose salads, lightly cooked vegetables, chicken, fish, lamb, or beef, and avoid starchy dishes such as mashed potatoes, white rice, and pasta.

A Little More About the Role of Emotion in Maintaining a Healthy Diet

In Part I of this article series, we explored the role of emotion in how we choose foods. I will end with a few suggestions about something all of us have experienced, but often don't know how to manage; the guilt that may arise if we eat something we know is not good for us. I hope you find the following suggestions helpful.

If you decide to indulge in food that you know isn't really good for you, there is a way of taking responsibility that can really put you at ease. Try this and let me know how it works for you.

Letting Go of Guilt Can Work Wonders!

First, mentally take note of the fact that you are choosing to enjoy ice cream, for example, or some other dessert that is loaded with refined sugar. Projecting into the future, know that it may make you feel tired later in the evening. It also may not be the best thing to eat after a big dinner of all kinds of other foods, so you may experience some digestive discomfort.

Simply acknowledge that, without making yourself feel guilty or worrying. Then let it go and indulge. Taking conscious responsibility for your dietary choices is empowering. Not only are you establishing some contact with your body by preparing it for what is to come, you are also acknowledging fully your responsibility for your actions.

You may even find that your indulgences have less uncomfortable effects physically. I personally find this process helps ease the stress such choices may have on my body. Why? Because guilt and conflict over what you are eating may be as hard on your body as the wrong kind of food!

Prepared for the possibilities, you can relax. You have put yourself in a position of strength. You also know that tomorrow you can return to your usual wholesome, nutritious diet.

In a forthcoming article, I will share some tips on nutritional supplements that can help your body recover much faster if you do choose to eat that triple chocolate layer cake.

Have a wonderful holiday and New Year!

Ellen Landauer is a Health Seminar Leader and Coach with 3 decades experience, and a Certified Advanced Rolfer with a practice for over 25 years. Her mission is to empower people to achieve optimal health.

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