Avoid Overeating During Holiday Meals This Holiday Season

Keep from overeating this holiday season with a healthy eating plan that is easy to follow. Enjoy the holiday meal without skipping the good stuff!

Holiday meals are filled with savoury foods that most do not consume on a regular basis. Filling a plate with food, eating, then going back for seconds before having dessert is a common routine at holiday meals. Yes, it is delicious and most cannot get enough of it until they have to unbutton their pants and lean back to take a nap. Before going overboard with the holiday meal consider what the food is actually doing to the body and how to prevent it from occurring.

Over Eating Health Concerns

According to Consumer Reports on Health, a large holiday meal could quickly surpass 4,000 calories. A meal such as this can cause a cardiac output of blood to rise and divert to the intestines to help aid in the digestion process. This can take up to six hours and will leave other organs deprived. Carbohydrates in holiday meals tend to be high which causes insulin to rise preventing the coronary arteries to relax.

Fat content is another concern with holiday overeating. Not only will the fat cause unwanted weight gain it can also trigger a gallbladder attack, especially in those who have gallstones already. Most holiday meals are not low in sodium which can lead to acute heart failure in persons who have had a problem.

How-to Eat Healthy at Holiday Meals

Woman having salad meal at the restaurant

One of the most common mistakes people make is to arrive at their holiday meal hungry. Avoid the temptation to skip breakfast to ‘save room for later’. It is the holiday season, whip up a nutritious holiday inspired breakfast and have a small snack an hour before the meal begins. A snack could include a small serving of oats, a bowl of whole grain cereal, or a granola bar.

As the holiday meal begins, if possible, eat a salad first. It is alright to taste all the foods that seem appealing, but don’t pile a huge plate full of food. Instead, opt for small food portions. Use a salad plate, it is smaller than a dinner plate and will give the illusion that the plate is filled full. Drink plenty of water with the meal to aid in digestion. Don’t try to finish the food too quickly, eat slowly and savour every bite.

Weight Loss Tips for the Holidays

Some areas have scheduled holiday walks, bikes, or runs. Begin a few months in advance and prepare for one of these activities. If none are available, grab a friend or family member and head to the gym for an hour before the holiday meal begins. This could be a wonderful time to spend time with family members that do not live near or that only come to town during the holidays.

Some families enjoy other outdoor activities such as basketball, soccer, horseshoes, bad mitten, horseback riding, touch football, etc. Start a new tradition this year and come up with some outdoor fun activities the whole family can enjoy. After all, holidays are about spending time with family.

Sometimes cooking will hinder the activities before the meal. In this case, save the activities for after the meal, but before the dessert. When asked to take home leftovers, if possible, decline. When leftovers are taken home, take only a small portion and save until the next day.

 

Discovering Kava – The Root of Serenity

Long-used by South Pacific islanders to soothe the nerves, kava is now one of the top-selling herbs in this country. But promoting tranquility in one of the most serene corners of the world is one thing while easing tension in a society of revolving debt and traffic jams is another. Is this ancient remedy a solution to modern-day stress and anxiety?

An elixir of kava rootFound in the plant’s roots, kava’s main calming ingredients are known as kavalactones. These fat-like substances relax the body and induce sleep, acting somewhat like the tranquilizers Valium or Xanax, although researchers aren’t exactly sure how the herb works. In Germany, kava remains one of the most popular doctor-recommended remedies for frayed nerves. The German Commission E, an FDA-like panel of experts that evaluates the safety and effectiveness of botanicals, has given the herb its stamp of approval.

What the Evidence Shows

Critics have questioned whether there’s a sound scientific basis for recommending kava in supplement form. Kava supplements, after all, are nothing like the sharp-tasting, homemade South Seas brews traditionally served in coconut shells (although you can still order the herb this way in South Pacific kava bars). Nor is the herb being used in the traditional sense. Polynesians drink kava to relax at social gatherings and tribal ceremonies. They don’t pop a pill because they’re anxious about boarding a boat.

A handful of short-term studies, most conducted in Europe, have found that kava helps reduce tension and improves mood in people who complain of stress, anxiety, or certain phobias. In the most recent report, presented at a symposium on alternative therapies last year, scientists followed 60 men and women with chronically high levels of stress and anxiety. Half the subjects got two 200 mg kava pills a day, while the others took a placebo. After four weeks, only the kava users showed a significant reduction in daily stress from personal relationships and other types of hassles.

To date, there has been only one longer-term controlled study on kava, which lasted six months. Although it found that kava relieved anxiety far more effectively than a placebo, it and other research suggest that kava may not be a quick and effective remedy for people with unusually severe anxiety.

Nevertheless, there is compelling anecdotal evidence that kava eases the tension caused by everyday life stresses. The herb appears to relieve mild anxiety in less than an hour, but studies have found that it typically takes a week to exert a meaningful effect. People report that the herb helps them to feel relaxed, content, and more willing to socialize. At a reasonable dose, kava will not affect your ability to think and reason, and there is no sluggishness the next day. In some respects, then, kava is the Polynesian equivalent of alcohol, minus the hangover and slurring.

Safer than Drugs?

Doctors in this country are beginning to pay kava some notice. Dr. Roberta Lee, the senior fellow at the program of integrative medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, recommends kava for some of her patients, particularly those who suffer from anxiety on a regular basis. “At this point,” she says, “it appears it may be safer than conventional anxiety medications.” She warns, however, that kava should not be combined with drugs such as Valium or alcohol because it may cause excessive sedation. And she would advise pregnant or breastfeeding women not to use kava because it can pass into breast milk. She also stresses the importance of combining the herb with other anxiety-reducing techniques, such as hypnosis and breathing exercises. The University is currently beginning a long-term study of kava for mild anxiety.

Shopping for Kava

Look for a solid, liquid, soft gel, or whole herb product that’s standardized to contain at least 30% kavalactones, the active ingredients in the herb. Dr. Lee says that German brands may be a good bet because herbal quality and content requirements are much stricter in Europe than in the U.S. She adds, however, that the larger manufacturers in this country, such as Nature’s Way, Enzymatic Therapy, Eclectic, and PhytoPharmica, also seem to have a good product. “I would certainly steer people away from bulk herbs,” cautions Dr. Lee. “We don’t know their age, and they’re exposed to oxygen and may already be oxidized.”

Suggested Dose

For bouts of stress or nervousness, take up to 250 mg of a standardized kava extract three times a day. Higher amounts may cause you to feel disoriented. Take with food for best absorption. Although side effects are few–mainly stomach discomfort–long-term use (more than three months) may lead to discolored, itchy skin.

Important Note

The FDA has recently issued warnings on kava due to its adverse effects on the liver. Before using this herb, please read this entry.