Raise your hand if you have ever been guilty of saying to yourself, “Oh screw it! I’m just going to eat whatever I want and worry about my diet after the new year, when all the parties and stress of the holidays are over!” If you could see me – both of my hands would be raised along with yours.
We have all had days where family, events, work and general life crises make us feel like sitting on the couch all day and stuffing our faces with only cookies! And I would argue that we are all entitled to the occasional day of “Anti-Stress Protest Eating.”
BUT here’s the part that I want you to consider: EATING BEAUTIFULLY COMBATS STRESS FROM THE INSIDE OUT! As my friend, Simon, (owner of The Fit Kitchen) is fond of saying, “Food is Fuel; Make Good Choices.” Food can heal us from the inside out. Nutrient dense foods combat illness. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are supposed to be experienced in short doses, like you’re running from a Saber-Toothed tiger. But in our modern world our stress hormones often run around the clock for days on end. And under those circumstances the immune system takes a beating.
In addition to weakening your immune function, cortisol increases fat tissue storage, especially in sites around the tummy. Maintaining nutrient rich, good portion sizes will not only help you feel more satiated it will also curb bing eating at holiday gatherings. That way if you’re having a cookie…or two, or a drink…or two, you’re adding it to a balanced diet rather than using it as a nutrient source.
Lastly, many people experience mood swings and depression over the holidays, whether it’s from loneliness, exhaustion or family arguments maintaining great eating habits will aid against seasonal blues. First, a colorful, nutrient rich plate visually stimulates happy mood-enhancing hormones in the brain. Second, steady intake (3-4 appropriately portioned meals/day) help keep insulin and glucose digestion in even streams. Therefore, you avoid blood sugar spikes and valleys, which are known for wrecking havoc on emotions – especially anger and sadness!
Again, I like to use the simile of “your body is like a sports-car” because it makes simple sense. If you have an Audi or BMW – note I did not say Porsche/Lamborghini; we’re not pro-athletes – and you fill the gas tank with maple syrup…let’s just say you will wreak havoc on the insides of your lovely car and it’s definitely NOT going to run well!
So if you need a snow day’s indulgence in front of the TV with a pint of ice cream…so be it. But let’s keep it to a day. Let’s revolutionize your thinking: NUTRIENT RICH FOODS ARE YOUR ALLY AGAINST STRESS. FOOD IS YOUR FRIEND!
Happy Holidays From Victory Fitness