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Tag Archives: diet

Is How You Practice Self Care Constructive or Destructive?

Is How You Practice Self Care Constructive or Destructive?

There was a time when I thought that self-care was just doing something that made me happy or comforted me during a flare.  Turns out I was wrong!  While self-care can be pleasurable, there is a lot more to it and it’s not always pleasant.  Today I share why we need to focus on all forms of self-care and not just the ones that make us happy.

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What is considered self-care?

Self-care is defined as the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health and the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

Self-care may look different from one person to the next, but we should have the same end goal of improving our physical and/or mental health.  Ways to do this are through personal hygiene, exercising, eating healthy, pacing ourselves, resting before we completely exhaust ourselves, napping when needed, following a schedule, adhering to a treatment plan, listening to our bodies,  etc.  Some other ways of practicing self-care are to care for our mental health by allowing ourselves a night or afternoon out with friends/family to laugh and let loose a little.  While not often fun or exciting, dealing with issues that are creating extra stress and anxiety in our lives is a must.  The longer we let things go, the more impact they have our lives and health.

One of my favorite forms of self-care is to spend time at the beach.  Sitting in the sand and listening to the waves crash soothes my soul and body.  Going for walks and eating healthy meals used to feel like a form of punishment, but in the past year and a half they have become my number one form of self-care.

What isn’t self-care?

Self-care is not a punishment! If it feels like one, it may be time to reevaluate why you believe it is.  Instead of thinking of cutting out or reducing how much comfort or junk food you eat as a punishment, consider what that food is doing to your body.  I found that the foods I was finding comfort in were actually contributing to my pain and fueling my chronic illnesses.  Once I was able to accept that I was responsible for some of my downtime and pain, I was able to see choosing healthier options in a different light.  I am not suggesting that I never indulge, but that when I do I call it what it is: an indulgence, NOT self-care.

Self-care isn’t about creating more pain, anguish, stress, or health problems.  Another reason that comforting myself with food isn’t a form of self-care is because it often leads to weight gain.  Gaining weight won’t help my chronic illnesses, in fact it will just add more stress as I attempt to rid my body of it.  To be clear, I am not saying that weight loss will cure me, but that instead my body will be under less stress.  I don’t care if you have one or fifty chronic illnesses, consistantly choosing to eat poorly and adding more health issues is never the answer.

Self-care isn’t about avoiding confrontation just because it is uncomfortable.  Self-care is standing and speaking up for yourself when necessary.  Self-care is caring for, protecting, and improving your mental and physical health.   Don’t stop caring for your heart and lungs just because your ovaries, kidney, muscles, or joints decide to be assholes.  You need all the strength you can muster up to face your chronic illnesses every day!

How to know if your form of self-care is constructive or destructive

The best way to determine whether or not your form of self-care is constructive or destructive is to observe what happens afterwards.  If you spent the night puking in the bathroom and can’t lift your head from your pillow after an evening out drinking with friends, it is safe to say that you weren’t practicing self-care.  There is nothing wrong with going out with friends if you are up to it, but you don’t have to drink alcohol.  Wouldn’t you have rather enjoyed laughing with your friends then going home for a good night’s sleep and be able to get up and do something else the next day?  Did your favorite comfort food force you to spend the afternoon on the toilet?  Unless you were severely constipated, there is no way to call it self-care.

Not everything you do will improve your life at that moment or at all, but a sign that what you are doing is a form of self-care is that it didn’t make your life worse!  Sure maybe standing up to your doctor or removing an abusive person from your life may feel stressful or painful for a moment, but in the long run your life will improve. Eating a healthy meal may not decrease your pain, but over time you will feel better than if you were consistently eating foods that fueled your chronic pain.

Take some time and think about how you are practicing self-care.  Can you identify what needs to change?  If not, try keeping a journal detailing how you practice self-care and your results.  If you see a pattern of destruction following some of your favorite forms, it may be time to make some changes.

Don’t know where to start?  Check out my eBook Make Pain Your Bitch: How to Dominate Your Chronic Life.  In it I share many of the changes I made in my chronic life and challenge you to acknowledge and make changes that will better your life.  Click here to order and download your copy today!

Join my Facebook Groups!

Alternative Pain Fighting Forum: Where we discuss natural and alternative ways to reduce chronic pain

Fitness Buddies: Support and encouragement on our wellness quest, because having a chronic illness is not a reason to not care for our bodies.

Spoon Rest: Support, laughs, and friendship.

Product Picks: Products that will improve your life, comfort you, or just make you smile.

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Green Eating Challenge

green food chall wp

Join me and my fitness buddies for our latest health challenge!  Starting Monday, August 6, 2018 our challenge is to eat something green everyday!  The challenge lasts five days and like all of our challenges, it will be a lot of fun.  Join our Facebook group and share how you are making changes to improve your health.  Share and find new recipes too!

Click here to join The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies

 

Five Benefits of Drinking White Tea

*This article contains affiliate links. The pennies earned from them help offset the expense of running this blog.

 

 

Five Benefits of Drinking White Tea

In my quest to lose the weight I have gained from years of inactivity due to chronic pain from fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, and endometriosis, I have obviously had to make dietary changes.  Choosing beverages that are calorie free and beneficial to my health is one of them.

Tea time

Due to having some strange and dangerous reactions to black and green teas many years ago, I stopped consuming tea.  However, a few weeks ago I tried white tea and was pleasantly surprised to not experience any negative reactions to it.  At home I brew the blueberry white tea pictured above.  When I am on the go I swing into Starbucks and order an unsweetened shaken iced white tea.  I love that I have found a beverage that has just enough caffeine to get me through the day, but less than coffee or black tea, and also has many health benefits.

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5 Benefits of white tea

1. Antiaging Properties

As someone who will be turning 50 in the fall, I am all for anything that will help me look younger!!!  White tea may help reduce the risk of premature aging, repair damaged skin, and protect skin against the effects of ultraviolet light.

2. Improves Cardiovascular Disorder

The flavonoids in white tea help to decrease the blood pressure and may reduce the risk of various heart conditions.

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3. Antibacterial Agent

White tea has antibacterial properties which can protect our skin from bacteria and other germs. Talk about a win for those of us with compromised immune systems!!

4. Weight Loss

Studies suggest that intake of white tea may prevent the formation of fat cells.

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5. May Protect Against Osteoporosis

Compounds found in white tea, including the polyphenols called catechins, may lower the risk of osteoporosis by promoting bone growth and suppressing bone breakdown.

If those reasons aren’t enough for you to put down that chemical filled diet soda or energy drink, then check out these articles for even more reasons!!!

10 Impressive Benefits of White Tea

10 Amazing Benefits of White Tea

The Benefits of White Tea Versus Green Tea

 

 

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19492999

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=f37edea5-f874-47f5-82da-c7fefc405805

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24172310

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20142827

The Disabled Diva’s Pain Management Plan

 

 

The Disabled Diva’s Pain Management Plan

 

 

 

 

 

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram you have surely noticed the improvements that I have experienced in the past year.  I have been receiving a lot of messages from followers asking about my pain management plan, so today I am sharing it with you.  There is no ONE thing that has taken my pain levels back to what they were before my chronic illnesses took over my body 24/7, it’s a combination of natural and alternative therapies that work together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who don’t know me, I was diagnosed with psoriasis in 2001, fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis in 2003, endometriosis in 2004, reoccurring abdominal adhesions in 2005 due to endo and surgical scarring, and degenerative disc disease in 2011.  I followed pharmaceutical protocols until 2012 when my health deteriorated to the point of not being able to walk, sit, or stand for more than 5 minutes without experiencing excruciating pain.  I was also in the emergency room several times a year for extremely painful urinary tract infections.  By 2012 most of my life was spent in bed.  That fall I tried medical marijuana, liked the relief it gave me, decided that I wanted to go that route, but not until I rid my body from all its pharmaceutical toxins.  A funny thing happened after my detox, I experienced a reduction of nerve pain and never again experienced another urinary tract infection.

Once I had detoxed from all my prescriptions I began creating my own pain management program.  To be clear, I am not suggesting you do the same, only you can decide what is best for your body. Click here to find out how I addressed my pain and symptoms one at a time.

*Disclosure: I am not a medical professional and I am NOT issuing medical advice. I am just sharing how I treat my chronic pain. This post contains affiliate links, however all thoughts and opinions are my own and were in no way influenced by the companies.

 

 

Medical Marijuana (MMJ)

I began by using marijuana infused edibles.  While they took longer to take effect than smoking, vaping, or using tinctures, it stayed in my system longer which provided longer lasting periods of relief.  Finally after years of not being able to sleep for more than 4-6 hours a night, that was if I was lucky, I began sleeping a full 8-10 hours every night.  The only exception was when pressure from an incoming heatwave or storm increased my pain.  After a few weeks of using MMJ, I regained use of my left thumb and pointer finger.  Those joints had been so swollen that I hadn’t been able to bend them for years.  After a few months I was able to make a loose fist and a year later I could finally make a tight fist.  Nerve pain was no longer a daily issue, instead it only occurred when experiencing an extreme heatwave or storm.

MMJ did something else that was pretty amazing.  Unlike opioids, MMJ didn’t mask my pain.  Instead it eliminated the reactionary and widespread pain I had experienced since the beginning and reduced the pain felt from my pain sources to a tingle.  This made it possible for me to recognize the sources of my pain, know what areas needed to be addressed, and what I should avoid doing to not aggravate those areas.

 

I also treat my pets with CBD. Click here for my list of preferred brands.

By the fall of 2015 I was able to drive myself to the grocery store, shop at one store without using a wheelchair, and occasionally walk short distances at Disneyland.  By the end of 2016 I could walk through two stores without needing weeks to recover.  The only condition that I didn’t experience any relief with was with my abdominal adhesions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I continue to use MMJ to this day. However, unlike the early years I no longer need it during the day and only use it before bed.  While I still like how easy it is to micro dose with edibles, vaping has become my favorite way to medicate.  I do however use various CBD products occasionally during the day to combat anxiety and depression.  I also use topical CBD oils and lotions.

I review various MMJ and CBD products in The Disabled Diva’s Alternative Chronic Pain Fighting Forum on Facebook.  My favorite CBD vape, topical oil, and capsules are from BioCBD+.

Review of BioCBD+ Capsules

Review of BioCBD+ Topical Oil

Review of BioCBD+ Vape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Intake

In 2016 I began recognizing how certain foods were increasing my pain and inflammation levels and began making changes.  The changes I made at first were minor, but helpful.  Last year I began tracking everything I consumed and noted how I felt.  This made it possible for me to recognize even more foods that were causing harm.  I started 2018 determined to get serious about what I ate.  My diet consists mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, smoothie bowls, and granola.  I still eat out occasionally, but try to make the best choices when I do.  Funny thing is that by recognizing how certain foods were causing more pain and making sicker, I lost my craving for them.  What I ate was never the cause of my chronic illnesses, but my former diet did make them worse.  I no longer comfort myself with the foods that I used to crave, because there is no comfort in knowing that I am creating more pain and inflammation.  Losing weight is another benefit, again while not the cause of my diseases, losing weight has helped reduce pain and gives my doctors one less thing to blame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEMF Therapy

I was introduced to PEMF therapy in November of 2016.  I was skeptical at first, but even though I only used it a few times a week I still experienced pain relief and increased stamina.  It wasn’t until I heard that my device may be able to reduce the pain and symptoms from abdominal adhesions (they were strangling my bowels) that I began using it daily.  Since the end of March 2017 I have used my device daily and when I say daily I mean that I use it from the moment I wake up and until I go to bed.  PEMF therapy with Oska Pulse immediately loosened the hold that adhesions had on my bowels.  Within four months the pain that I experienced in my feet, spine, hips, and sacrum were no longer a daily issue.  In fact, those areas only hurt when I push too far or from high pressure pushing in a heatwave or storm.  After 6 months I was able to walk farther than I had since the fall of 2003.  By January of 2018 I began walking .75 miles a day, then increased to 1.65 miles a day, to now where I am walking 4-6 miles every day!! I haven’t had to use my wheelchair since January and only use my walker when I am at Disneyland and am going to be on my feet for more than several hours.  Click here to follow my journey from the beginning.  Click here to visit Oska Wellness. Promo code DIVA will save you $55 at checkout.  Full disclosure: I am an affiliate of Oska Wellness, but only because the product truly delivers on its promise of pain relief and reduction of inflammation.  This device is what has pushed my pain management to another level.  My daily pain level is between 0-4.  I experience less flares and the ones I do experience are less painful than before, don’t last as long, and I recover from them faster.

 

 

Exercise

Because of the improvements I have experienced from MMJ, dietary changes, and PEMF therapy I have been able to exercise every day.  I begin each morning with a 3-5 mile walk and end each day walking another 2-3 miles.  I am slowly adding other exercises to my routine and have begun to notice significant weight loss. I am down a pants size and am well on my way to reach my goal to become the weight I was before my illnesses took over my life.  My physical abilities didn’t occur overnight.  It has taken a full year to reach this level of physical activity.  I keep myself accountable and offer support, encouragement, and motivation to others in The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies.

Other helpful treatments

In addition to the four major aspects of my pain relief plan, I also use heat, ice, and massage.  I am always open to trying new things that are holistic, natural, or out of the norm.  I have learned to listen to my body and to work with it instead of against it.  My pain management plan has made it possible to know which areas need addressing on a daily basis.

I have not been healed.  My conditions are not curable.  However, I rarely spend an entire day in bed anymore and I am doing things that my doctors said I would never be able to do again.

I am happy to address any questions you may have.  No matter how you choose to combat your chronic pain, know that there is hope! Don’t give up! Keep searching and trying new things.

 

Make chronic pain your bitch by taking control!Click here to download your copy today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby steps are better than NO steps!

*This post contains affiliate links.

stop beating yourself up

I posted the picture above in The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies Facebook group this morning, because it is something that I have to remind myself of often.  Whether it be in regards to eating healthier or exercising, lack of progress feeds my insecurities and makes me wonder if what I am doing is really worth the effort.

I didn’t get where I am overnight!

One thing I have to remind myself of daily is that I didn’t get where I am overnight.  The weight I gained came from years of inactivity and comforting myself with food.  Sure, I could easily blame it on my chronic illnesses, but the truth is that fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, and endometriosis aren’t to blame, I AM!  For years I allowed pain and fatigue to control every aspect of my life and as each year passed by, the further out of shape I became.

Getting real with myself

I have struggled with weight since high school.  Prior to my invisible illnesses deciding to pummel my body with daily pain, I was at a healthy and acceptable weight.  It took a year of watching what I ate and daily exercise to reach my goal, so it would be unrealistic of me to think I could shed the weight I have gained since the fall of 2003 in a few weeks or months.  Another thing I have to consider is that I am 15 years older!!! I will be turning the big 50 this fall and let me tell you my metabolism is nothing like it was when I was in my early 30’s.

 

 

Accepting and rejoicing the progress I have made

I began getting serious about becoming as healthy as I can possibly be in January of 2017. Ten pounds is all I lost from that time until January of 2018.  TEN POUNDS!! At first I was pissed off by the number, but then I realized that those were 10 pounds that I didn’t have to lose this year! Not only that, but I developed better eating habits and my body stopped craving foods that aren’t good for it.  I also began craving physical activity.  This is something that I have never done, not even when I was younger.  Overcoming cravings, yearning to move my body, and losing 10lbs is progress that I never expected to achieve, nor would I had I done nothing at all.  So far this year I have lost 5lbs.  That’s 1.6666666667 pounds per month.  I could let this number get me down or I can be proud of myself for losing them.  I choose to be happy, because my eating habits and physical activity are continuing to improve.  While I may not be seeing significant results on my bathroom scale, I am seeing it in the mirror, in pictures, and by how my clothing fits.  I am down a pants size and am no longer embarrassed of having my body photographed.

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Baby steps

I began my fitness journey with baby steps.  I didn’t force myself into following a restrictive diet.  My dietary changes have taken place one at a time.  In time I will be following the diet that is perfect for my body, because I am taking small steps to allow my body time to adjust.  Had I decided to go full speed ahead and overhauled my diet to be what I want it to be right from the start, I would have quit.  Same goes for exercising.  I didn’t begin with walking 4 plus miles a day or using my rowing machine for 60 minutes at a time.  I had to take baby steps and began with 5 minute increments a few times a week.

My advice for you

Consider these three things if you are struggling to find a fitness routine that works with your disease:

  1. Search for physical activities that you are able to do, NOT what you wish you could do.
  2. Listen to your body and do what you can, when you can.
  3. Baby steps are better than no steps! You will never make any progress if you aren’t trying.

And when you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself that:

  1. You didn’t get to where you are at overnight, significant progress will take time.
  2. You’re health is important! Having a chronic illness is not an excuse for not caring for your body.
  3. A bad day is just that, let it go and move on.  If a setback or flare requires that you reduce your activity or dictates that you have to start back from square one, that is okay!!!

Whether you have a chronic illness or not, The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies are here to motivate, encourage, and support you in your quest to improve your health.  Click here to join us.

Finding an exercise program when you have one or more chronic illnesses can be difficult.  I suggest you check out Get Autoimmune Strong, an exercise program created for those who suffer from chronic pain.  The creator of this program is fellow chronic pain warrior, Andrea Wool.  The techniques and exercises she shares in her program have improved my personal routine.

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Tired of your chronic illnesses running your life? Take back control and make pain your bitch! Click here to download your copy today!

 

 

 

How traveling with a chronic illness went from good to bad to what the heck just happened!

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*This post contains affiliate links. I am not a medical professional and nothing I say should be mistaken for medical advice.  All thoughts, opinions, and experiences are mine and mine alone and have in no way been influenced by the products I endorse.

Traveling with multiple chronic illnesses has never been easy.  This was extremely frustrating for someone who loved going on road trips or flying across the country.  Before becoming chronically ill I never had to consider my illnesses which include, but are not limited to, fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, and endometriosis.  All I had to do was throw some clothes in a bag and head off to destinations unknown.

Even though I didn’t receive my first diagnosis until 2001, symptoms from all of my conditions began interfering with my life as early as 1998 when a weekend that was supposed to be spent at the beach was instead spent in bed.  In 1999, I spent two days out of my seven day honeymoon cruise in bed because of pain and fatigue.  By 2000 I could no longer drive from Denver, CO to Phoenix, AZ without needing to nap at rest areas and stop to sleep at a hotel for a night. By fall of 2003 I had received all of my diagnoses.  Instead of experiencing any sort of relief or improvements my pain and fatigue levels continued to escalate.  All vacations from that point on until the end of 2015 required more time spent in bed than exploring and they took weeks or months to recover from.  I began to loathe traveling.  What was the point of spending money to travel when all I did was see the walls of my hotel room?

 

bio oil

This topical CBD oil delivers on its promise of relieving pain! Click here to read my full review!

 

Things began changing when I decided to make changes to how I planned and prepared for my getaways in December of 2015.  I didn’t have to travel far, we spent 5 days at Disneyland and were only 45 minutes from home. But this trip did require my being able to function for 5 days in a row because I was spending it with my best friend and wanted to enjoy every moment. By listening to my body I was able to spend time in the park with my best friend and her family every day.  I didn’t always last for the entire day, but long enough to create lasting memories.  Had I not obeyed my body I would have been lucky to have enjoyed one or two days out of the hotel.  From that point I learned to accept that I would have to limit my time out of bed and be happy with the time I spent out of it.

green flower learn and watch free

Then something amazing happened in the summer of 2017.  For the first time in what feels like ages, I only had to spend one of the nine days we were on vacation in bed.  The rest of the trip was spent laughing with family, going out to eat, and sightseeing.  Nor did I need much recovery time.  In fact I was back to my normal routine within days.  Even better was the fact that not since 2005 had I been able to get through a vacation without the use of a wheelchair, but on this trip I only needed to use it for one day! Thrilled by this experience I excitedly planned our next vacation which I just returned from last week.  This vacation was even better!!! My body did NOT need any days in bed, nor did I have to use a wheelchair.  In fact I only took three one hour naps throughout my entire 8 day vacation!!!  Even more impressive was that I was also able to reach my daily fitness goal of 10,000 steps per day and then some each and every day!! This included the days that we were traveling!!!! If that wasn’t enough, there has been no recovery time needed.  I jumped right back into my regular schedule the moment I returned home and have continued to do so.

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Wondering why this was possible? It all comes down to the changes I have made in regards to how I treat my chronic illnesses and pain early in 2017.  The first change I made was adding exercise to my weekly routine.  I began with exercising 2-3 times per week and increased as my body allowed.  The second thing I did was to add PEMF therapy with Oska Pulse to my pain management plan.  This device reduced inflammation and pain better than anything I had tried in the past and combined with medical marijuana I was able to increase my physical activity.  This year I began making more changes by cleaning up my diet.

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I credit how well I did on this vacation to NOT taking a break from how I treat my conditions, exercising, and following my dietary restrictions as closely as possible.  While away I continued my pain relief treatments the same as I do at home with the exception of increasing treatments when I experienced an increase of pain.  I thought I had sentenced myself to spending the remainder of my vacation in bed after my best friend and I walked 3.4 miles around Tempe Town Lake. I could barely walk or stand that evening, but after running multiple PEMF treatments to my knees, hips, and back along with rubbing my muscles and joints with my favorite topical CBD oil from Bio CBD+, I was up and walking without pain the next morning.  When my body asked for a nap, I gave it one.  To continue with my smoothie breakfast bowls, I packed my Ninja Juicer and went grocery shopping the night we arrived in Phoenix.  I refused to allow being on vacation to be an excuse for eating like crap and gaining weight.  I exercised and carefully selected what I ate each and every day, including our travel days. Before hopping into our car I went for a morning walk, then walked at the rest area and gas station, and  walked again when we reached our destination.  My reward was getting to laugh and spend time with my friends and family.  The memories made, which include dancing at my God daughter’s wedding, have filled my heart with joy. Click here to see my terrible dance moves.

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I am so thankful that I added PEMF therapy with Oska Pulse to my pain management plan. In the years that I was treating my chronic illnesses solely with medical marijuana, I was able to reduce the widespread and reactionary pain to the point of being able to recognize my pain sources. Oska Pulse now helps me reduce the pain and inflammation in those areas. The combination has gifted me with the energy and stamina needed to be physically active every day.

My improvements didn’t occur over night. It took months before I experienced a drastic reduction of pain in my spine, tailbone, hips, and feet. It took a year to reach the amount of distance that I’m able to walk today. I use my device daily for a minimum of 20 treatments each day. Most days I use it from the time I wake up until I go to bed. When I first began my PEMF treatments I often needed to medicate with medical marijuana during the day in addition to before bed every night.  Now, a year later, I no longer need to use anything besides my Oska Pulse and topical CBD oil for daily pain relief.  I still medicate with marijuana at bedtime, because I would never sleep without it, but the amount of medication needed has decreased greatly in the past year.

Don’t give up trying to improve your chronic life, pain level, or vacation experience! Continue seeking new ways to do what you want and always listen to your body!

What have you done that has improved your vacation experience?

Click here to read all of my travel related posts to help you improve your next getaway!

Learn more about Oska Pulse from Oska Wellness by clicking here and as always, save $55 with promo code DIVA. Click here to follow my journey from the beginning.

Does having an accountability buddy make it easier for you to stick to your fitness goals? Click here to join my fitness buddy facebook group!

Join myself and others who are either currently fighting pain alternatively or wanting to learn more about alternative pain treatments in The Disabled Diva’s Alternative Chronic Pain Fighting Forum on Facebook.

 

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Download my eBook “Make Pain Your Bitch; How to Dominate Your Chronic Life” to find out how I took control over my life and challenge you to make the changes necessary to dominate your own chronic life. Click here to purchase your copy today!

 

 

 

 

Seven Strategies to Not Overindulge During Holidays

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It’s the time of year so many people dread. Just when the last of the Halloween candy is either consumed or discarded; BAM! Thanksgiving. And the sugar binge begins anew.
The holiday season is a three-month junk food marathon, but Thanksgiving is the foremost culprit. Why? The entire holiday is based around a meal! Sure, we drive (or fly) for hours to visit family and friends, but what do we do when we get there? Eat. We eat like it’s our job.
Before you start dreaming about the pumpkin pie and stuffing, consider this: On average, Americans tend to gain weight over the holidays every year, and it often accumulates over time.

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1. Drink Water
Make it at least a gallon a day. It sounds like a lot if you’re not used to drinking water, but the benefits of keeping yourself hydrated are something you can really be thankful for. For a food-based holiday like Thanksgiving, drinking water is key, because it makes you feel full. If you feel more full, you’re less likely to have that second helping of stuffing, or that third piece of pie. In addition to that, every time you drink a glass of water, you didn’t drink a glass of soda, or beer, or any other beverage that hides sugar and empty calories.

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2. Sleep
I know, easier said than done, right? Still, the holidays are stressful enough without denying your body the time it needs to recover and rejuvenate itself. Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health, and so before the weekend with the in-laws, make sure you’re getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. Keep in mind, that most people need more. If you don’t sleep enough, your body is going to think it’s starving, and it’s going to retain water, and store as much fat as it can. Not only that, but your body is going to start craving sugar to help keep you awake. Add on three days of binging on sweets and carbs, and that ten pounds could pile on pretty quick.

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3. Change the Menu
I know the traditionalists out there just cringed, but really, what’s more important, your health or yams with marshmallow? From introducing low-carb substitutes, to simply making less of certain dishes, there are plenty of menu-fixes which can help keep you trim this November.
Too many people throw down completely unhealthy food because it’s tradition. Cranberry sauce? You might as well serve Jell-O, for the amount of sugar that’s in a typical can of that stuff. Wherever you can, try to eliminate as many carbs, and as much sugar, as you can from the menu. Maybe your family will enjoy mixed berries and homemade whipped cream just as much as apple pie.
Now, I’m not saying cut out all of the family favorites, but recipes can be tweaked, like using stevia instead of sugar in the apple pie, or fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned yams. Try topping those yams with pecans instead of marshmallow. Finally, if there’s something your family absolutely HAS to have, like stuffing, make half as much. Nobody needs to eat 8 ounces of bread on top of a full meal folks; nobody.

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4. Cauliflower Is Your Friend
Speaking of tweaking recipes, cauliflower’s so good that it gets its own point. You all know broccoli’s pale cousin. Well, there are so many empty carbs in the Thanksgiving meal that you can replace with this one vegetable, it’s amazing.
·      Replace breadcrumbs. Grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater (or buy it pre-riced, many supermarkets now sell it this way) and bake it on a cookie sheet.
·      Pureé and use it to thicken gravy instead of cornstarch or flour.
·      Don’t mash potatoes. Boil cauliflower and mash that instead. Throw in some garlic and butter, or sour cream and chives, and it’ll taste so good, the substitution will go unnoticed.

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5. Portion Control
It’s only a salad plate if there’s salad on it. Seriously, serve your meal on salad plates. It’s ingrained in us to go back for seconds on Thanksgiving, so make the portions smaller. Dinner plates are enormous, and if people fill those up knowing that they’re going back for more, there’s no way their bodies are going to be able to process all of that.
Speaking of seconds, make a mental note to have a full glass of water after your first plate. A good 16 ounces of water after your first helping, and maybe you’ll decide you don’t really need that second one. Not only that, but the Thanksgiving meal is heavy in sodium, so your body will be grateful for the extra water.

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6. Assign Dishes
A lot of people do this already, and it can really work to your advantage. If you’re the chef this November 23rd, focus on the turkey, and assign your guests a side dish. It’s too easy to graze when you’re preparing the whole show, and regardless of where you eat what, the calories always count. Save yourself the hassle of picking while you cook, and outsource the fixings.
In addition, there’s no law against doubling down on protein. Instead of stuffing and mashed potatoes, maybe you offer turkey and ham?
While you’re at it, disposable Tupperware is cheap. Send all your guests home with leftovers, so you don’t have to eat it every day. You’re much less likely to eat stuffing if it’s in someone else’s house.

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7. Arrive Prepared & Don’t Graze
So, maybe you’re the guest and the food is taken care of. Bring what YOU need to stay on track! If you know folks are going to be drinking wine, or cocktails, bring along some sparkling water for yourself so you can feel fancy too. Or, if you’re worried about the pre-meal spread, bring something you know you can eat that isn’t crammed with sugar and carbs. Crudités (sliced veggies and dip) is something everyone can eat, and it’s a pre-meal snack that won’t dump sugar into your bloodstream.
There’s no rule saying you have to eat all day long. Arrive fashionably late. Don’t show up until the main event. And remember there’s nothing like a walk after a big meal to clear your head and get you away from the dessert table. You can play with the kids, take the dog for a walk, socialize with friends, or anything; just don’t put yourself in the same room as the food.
Remember, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a three-month long chow-fest. The habits you set and the tricks you use can use this November 23rd can set you up for success in the coming months. Drink your water, get as much sleep as you can, and avoid the sugar and carbs. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about being with the people you love; don’t make it about food.

About the Author:
Cristy “Code Red” Nickel is an author, speaker, and celebrity nutritionist. Since 1994, she has helped thousands lose weight by eating real food. She is the author of The Code Red Revolution, which details her 7 simple rules for losing all the weight you want without pills, shakes, diet foods, or exercise.
Learn more about Cristy “Code Red”

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The Disabled Diva’s new book “Make Pain Your Bitch; How to Dominate Your Chronic Life” goes on sale for $7.99 on Dec. 6, 2017. Click here to order yours today and have your copy delivered to your inbox on the 6th.

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