How to Stress Less This Holiday

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What I’m going to tell you is not meant to ruin your holidays.  In fact, I hope you have the happiest, healthiest holidays ever!  But your prospects for long-term happiness and health might be better if you keep these two surprising things in mind. According to David Niven in The 100 Simple Secrets of Healthy People:

  1. The average American gains seven to ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to exercise physiologists at Pennsylvania State University.
  2. Surveys show that anxiety levels are 55 percent greater over the holidays than at any other time of the year, which encourages stress eating.

In You Stress Less Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz explain exactly how stress can make you fat. Stress triggers an ancient response of calorie accumulation and fat storage.  This enlarges your omentum(the fat-storing organ near your stomach).  The vicious cycle of stress, eating and weight gain begins:

  • When you have chronic stress, your body increases its production of steroids and insulin, which…
  • Increases your appetite, which…
  • Increases the chance you’ll engage in hedonistic eating in the form of high-calorie sweets and fats, which…
  • Makes you store more fat, especially in the omentum, which…
  • Pumps more fat and inflammatory chemicals into the liver, which…
  • Creates a resistance to insulin, which…
  • Makes your pancreas secrete more insulin to compensate, which…
  • Makes you hungrier than a muzzled wolf, which…
  • Continues the cycle of eating, because you’re stressed and being stressed because you’re eating.

Many of us have idealized mental pictures of stress-free, family-filled, joyful holidays.  But so many things can get in the way:  family personality differences, too many commitments, not enough money, not enough time, and just plain exhaustion.

Drs. Roizen and Oz give us 75 pointers on managing stress.  They discuss lifestyle basics such as getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right, and coping with the people and situations in our lives.

The stress buster they point to again and again is taking responsibility:  we should live our lives consciously, we should think things through, choose the best alternatives, and then take action. That way, we’re not caught off guard, we’re not as stressed, and our actions usually achieve better results.

Roizen and Oz apply this “stress less” approach to food. When it comes to food choices for combating stress, even though they are not vegetarian or vegan, their approach to nutrition is similar to vegan.  They see food as nature’s best medicine, especially when it comes to maintaining energy levels.  Practicing healthy eating habits (lean protein, healthy carbohydrates and healthy fats) keep the body in balance; classic stress eating – high fat, refined carbohydrates – make the stress worse.  Their advice: eat high-quality protein and lots of fruits, vegetables, and 100% whole grains.

If we can keep these things in mind (at least some of the time), we might be less stressed, have more fun, and not be paying for this year’s holidays with extra weight next year!

One great thing you could do for yourself is to check out Claire Gosse’s Vegan Flush.  It is a gentle, healthy cleanse that will leave your body and your mind healthier and less stressed.  You might want to do it after Thanksgiving.  It will help you through the rest of the holidays.  Or think about it as a fantastic way to start the New Year.

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