Possibly the hardest thing to do during the holidays is to keep your stress levels in check. When we talk about stress we normally just think about the emotional types of stress. These stresses are easy to pinpoint this time of year, especially if you plan on doing any holiday shopping. The people in the stores both shopping, and as sales people are the most frazzled and snarky people, you will have to deal with all year.
It is a pretty safe guess that we all have a significant amount of stress in our lives this time of year. We have meals to cook, shopping to do; it's colder outside, and our jobs are a bit more stressful with year ends. Let's not forget that we need to deal with families and all of the travel. So, yeah we are all stressed.
The problem is unless you plan on digging a hole and not coming out for the next two months you have to find a way to either cope or diminish. If you go the coping route, I could suggest a few nice bottles of wine that may help. Otherwise, we have to diminish our overall stress load, and unfortunately most of the stressors that happen this time of year are completely out of your control.
There are only a few stresses that we can actually control. The thoughts in our head, and the things that pass over our lips (both in and out). Controlling your thoughts is a great way to decrease your stress load but unless you plan to become a zen meditation master over the next few weeks, there may not be enough time to help with the holiday stress. That leaves the controlling of the things that go over our lips.
What I mean by that is we need to control the foods and drinks we consume and to a much lesser degree we need to be careful what we say to people, cause that can be extremely stressful if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person at that the wrong time.
We all know we need to eat better but most times that are a general guideline most people only have a vague idea of that that even means. For me, eating better boils down to one simple thing, balance your blood sugar response. Most people’s response is that they don’t have diabetes, so their blood sugars are fine. Well, no, they probably aren’t.
When I say balance you blood sugars, I'm not referring to the pathological state of diabetes, what I am talking about is really a form of dis-insulinism. To understand this we need to talk a bit about your blood sugar physiology. All food, when digested and absorbed, will raise your blood sugar. When your blood sugar goes up your body releases insulin, which pushes the sugar out of the blood into the cells. If everything is working in your body, then the more sugar you have in your blood, the more insulin is released. The more insulin that is released the faster the sugar is pushed into the cells, and consequently the fast your blood sugar falls.
Okay, the physiology is great to know but how the heck does this have anything to do with your holiday stress? If you ate too much sugar (or carbohydrates for that matter) and quickly produce a lot of blood sugar. Thus, quickly produce a lot of insulin, quickly lowering your blood sugar. The problem is the body sees the quick fluctuation in your blood sugar as stress full and as your blood sugar falls, you release cortisol.
So, how can you help manage your stress, cortisol and blood sugar during the holiday season:
Skip the sugar.
Your sweet tooth for holiday candy or the sweet breads that are being served at holiday parties may be one of the major things that are keeping you stressed. Especially because of the rapid rise and fall that of your blood sugar, and the subsequent rise in cortisol. Your best bet is to avoid all Breads, Pastas, Rice, Soda, and anything on the Starbucks food or seasonal drink menu.
Eat a big breakfast
Breaking the fast of you sleep may be one of the most important things you do for your overall stress load throughout the day. My opinion starts your day with protein and fat. These big logs for the fire of your metabolism will keep you going through the rest of the day. Which will help you make better decisions avoiding the things that may blow your blood sugar.
Eat more often
During times of increased stress you will probably need to eat 4-6 meals per day.
What to eat
You can eat any Protein you choose: Meat, Fish, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Egg, Vinson, etc. Here is a list I put together a few months ago. And Any Vegetable.
Avoid at all costs Bread, Pasta, Cake, Cookies, Candies, Rice, Soda, Potatoes, Brownies, Doughnuts, Wheat (all forms of flour), Corn, Dairy, Soy and Sugar.
Perfection during the holiday season is very difficult so do the best you can and you will survive the holiday season with your health and sanity intact!
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