by Jeffrey Pearson, DO

Editor’s note: The holiday season is a time for joyful celebration. But for many, these last weeks of the year are also marked by overeating, illness and stress. In the first of a series, our guest blogger, Jeffrey Pearson, DO shares his advice on how to stay healthy this holiday season. Dr. Pearson is a board certified Family and Sports Medicine physician. He can be reached at Graybill’s Medicine-in-Motion Office, 120 Craven Road, Suite 101, San Marcos CA, 92078. Telephone: 760-591-0955.


9125,1228161406,3---web]Labor Day came and went. Despite the appearance of Christmas decorations at the nearby Costco that same week, most did not panic. But now that Halloween is history and Thanksgiving is here, get set for the winter equivalent of March Madness: December’s Delights and/or Debacles. There’s precious little time to prepare for the deluge that is about to befall our patients. What’s the best advice that we can provide? Here are some basic concerns that we should address along with appropriate advice to help our patients survive the holiday season.

“I’m Going to Get Fat”

Be realistic. Don’t even try to lose weight over the holidays. Rather, strive to maintain your current weight instead. Some suggestions:

Never skip meals. The brain interprets skipped meals as starving and metabolism will slow down. Better to eat small meals (low in sugar/starches) throughout the day (6 times/day or more). This keeps insulin levels lower and on a more even keel (wide insulin swings can lead to increase appetite). Start the day off with a healthy breakfast to fuel the machine that is our body and store healthy snacks around the home.

At holiday parties and get-togethers:

  • Never arrive ravenously hungry with an empty stomach. Eat a little bit before you go to the party.
  • Don’t just eat everything in sight. Know what you really want to eat. Eat things that are special to the season. If bringing food for potluck, bring something that you’re sure is healthy.
  • Eat slowly and mindfully. If standing, hold a glass of water in one hand and talk to a lot of people.
  • Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. Use small plates to limit portions and don’t build “towers” of food. Stand last in the buffet line as it’s very tempting to take something of everything when it’s all laid out so pristine. Set a “one plate” rule and leave what you don’t want – it’s better to waste food, than “waist” it.
  • Wear tight clothes and consider chewing gum after you finish your food to remove the temptation for continued nibbling.
  • Consume your alcohol “on the rocks” – the melting ice dilutes the cocktail, creating more fluid thus delaying a fast “buzz.” Sip it slowly and consider using soda water as a mixer as a way to cut down on the sugar intake. Suggest stopping alcohol hours before bedtime giving blood levels a chance to normalize before sleep. This will promote a more restive sleep. And, of course alcohol loosens inhibitions – beware of overeating.
  • Watch for hidden caffeine such as chocolate that can also affect sleep later on.

Watch for Part II of our series on Surviving the Holidays: “I’m Going To Get Sick”