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Top 10 Worst Holiday Habits That Will Sabotage Your Quest For Better Health

As the holiday season approaches, so does the excitement of eating some of the tastiest foods of the year.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of our favorite holidays for many reasons, including the ability to reconnect with loved ones, a chance to relax from a tiresome and demanding work schedule, the opportunity to watch kick-butt professional sports, and sleep like it was your J-O-B.

If you are like many people, then with the festivities and laughter also comes the harsh and poignant reminder that your personal health may be less than ideal.  With each passing year, the world witnesses an increase in the number of people with chronic diseases like insulin reisstance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and cancer.  Despite many grassroots and large-scale public health efforts, health care costs are also increasing out of control.

But let’s face it – this story isn’t new.  I’m not telling you something you haven’t already heard before.  The world is getting sicker with every passing year, and death rates from preventable chronic diseases are still on the rise.

So instead of focusing on the world at large, perhaps we should take this holiday season as an opportunity improve aspects of your personal health that haven’t received much attention lately.

 

That’s why I put together this list to point out 10 common and detrimental habits that you should avoid this holiday season.  As you read the following list, ask yourself how many of these habits you possess, and grade yourself using the scale at the end of this article.

10. Eat entire meals devoid of fruits or vegetables. 

Only eat food that came from a can, a package, or a dehydrated powder.  Bonus points awarded to dishes made from congealed animal fat, negative points awarded to foods that are green.

9. Make alcohol the staple of every meal. 

Go for the dark, heavy beers and sugary cocktails.  Stay away from those light, low calorie options (unless it can benefit from some added egg nog).  This holiday season, show off how strong your liver has become.

8. Stay indoors all day.  Don’t exercise at all. 

That flag football game your buddies want you to play?  Watch the professionals on TV instead.  That 5k turkey fun run at your child’s school?  Not if it takes away from your hard-earned Netflix time.

7. Never reject food that is offered to you.

Rejecting food can certainly upset the host and reflect poorly on you.  Try everything at the table, especially foods dripping with gravy.  Remember: at holiday time, gluttony is the best policy.

6. Eat beyond the point of being full.

Eat seconds.  Thirds.  Fourths.  Nobody likes it when you leave the table early, so you might as well exercise those jaw muscles instead of sitting at the table with nothing to say.

5. Always eat dessert, especially if it contains ice cream.

Impress your friends by finding creative ways to incorporate ice cream into every dish.  Ever tried green beans with rocky road?  Mint chocolate chip stuffing?  Mashed potatoes with peanut butter ripple?

4. Don’t discriminate between light and dark meat.

Never mind that meat products like chicken, pork, turkey and beef contain between 23-41% fat on average, or that a 3.5 oz. piece can deliver a whopping 80 mg of cholesterol1,2.  Those are just statistics.  Eat as much meat as you can.  After all, you’re a person, not a number.

3. Stress out about family dynamics. 

Stress is supposed to kick-start your metabolism, right?  Stress is supposed to activate your fight-or-flight mechanism to burn more calories, right?  After all, if you’re not going to worry about whether everyone at the table is getting along, who will?

2. Starve yourself in the morning, then pig out for dinner. 

Need to make room for that supersized feast?  Might as well starve yourself for hours before hand in order to make room.  Who cares that research shows that long gaps in food intake can slow your metabolic rate?

1.  Eat large meals just before bed. 

Research shows that this single habit is one of the most effective ways to gain weight in the long term, stress your heart, and increase whole-body inflammation.  If you’re trying to diminish your hard-earned metabolic rate, this is your golden opportunity.

 

Clearly the list you see here is not intended to be taken literally.  The purpose is to point out behavioral patterns which may be sabotaging your health and fitness goals, and increase your risk for developing  preventable health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.

Read through this list and identify behaviors that typify your holiday experience.  Is your household a stressful place to be?  Do you make excuses about why you refuse to exercise?  Do you lie to yourself and others about how much alcohol you drink?

For each of these 10 behaviors, award yourself a point for patterns that you fall victim to, then grade yourself according to the following scale:

sabotage scale

References

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1. Fuhrman, J. Eat to live the amazing nutrient-rich program for fast and sustained weight loss. (Little, Brown and Co., 2011).

2. Barnard, N. D. Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs. (Rodale, 2006).

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About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

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