All blog posts from Dr. Allott are provided for educational and informational purposes only. As Dr. Allott is also a licensed medical practitioner, we must make it clear that nothing on the blog is intended to constitute medical advice, consultation, recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are concerned about your health, please seek appropriate care in your area.


The Science of Hope Applied to Holiday Eating

As we move into the holidays and start planning the 60-day sprint, I am reflecting on what has helped me through crunch times and sprints this year. HOPE made a difference.

In October, I was blessed to speak at the Kitsap County Resilience Summit. The keynote speaker was Chan Hellman Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. For the last decade he has been researching hope with individuals with high ACES (Adverse Childhood Events Scores). His new book, Hope Rising: How the Science of HOPE Can Change Your Life, will be available on Amazon in late November. I highly recommend it!

Here is a summary. He distinguishes hope from wishes. “Hope is the belief that a thriving future is possible and that you have the power to make it so. A wish is something that has no steps towards making it real and that you don’t have any influence over.” (p31 Hope Rising).

So let’s set our goals and raise our HOPE to get through the holidays with a little more self-compassion and self-care, and enter the new year with renewed resilience.

According to Dr. Hellman we need two things to raise our hopes and move toward them. Willpower and Waypower. Willpower is a combination of personal motivation for the goal and fuel supply for the brain to have the energy and mental clarity to stay focused on the goal and hold onto the hope. Waypower is the pathway to get it done. It’s the small little steps of success that lead you down the path toward your goal. We often need support from others for both the willpower and the waypower. I love the definition of hope used at Camp HOPE, a camp for children surviving domestic violence, that is shared in this book. Hope is “believing in yourself, believing in others, and believing in your dreams.”

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So what are your holiday hopes? Do you have steps identified along a path to achieve them? Are they really goals that you, personally, want for you or your family? Which ones are you sure of? Which ones do you need to strengthen your Hope Plan around?

Here are some Hopes that I often hear people talking about for the Holidays:

  • Seeing family or having solitude

  • Going hiking, seeing a holiday show

  • Cooking traditional or non-traditional food

  • Seeing the holiday lights

  • Not over eating

  • Managing holiday winter depression

For those who want to learn more, here is a link to a presentation given by Chan Hellman on this topic, titled Pathways of Hope. He also has a number of videos on YouTube.

10 Tips For A More Enjoyable Holiday Season

It is never too early to create a plan to build willpower and practice waypower for your holiday eating, especially if your desire is to weather the season feeling your best and without unreasonable weight gain.

These 10 tips may serve as a thoughtful steps through the challenges that come during the most food-seductive time of year.

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1. For the months of November, December and January, mark the days on your calendar for “free eating” - a time to enjoy eating whatever you want.

2. When sugar cravings are especially high during the holidays, turn to protein: eat protein every 3 hours.

3. This is the time of year when exercise routines are often disrupted, so plan shorter workouts such as 10 minutes of walking, complete 20 squats, do a 20-count of plank, or 10 sit ups. I like calisthenics because I can break up the exercise routine throughout the day and still receive the benefits.

4. In early December make an appointment for after January 15th to meet with a friend for a walk, see a nutritionist or exercise person of choice and start a new routine. By mid-January you’ll know what your goals are for the New Year and will be open to assistance and ready for action.

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5. Include on your gift list a fitness band (a step-tracker, or other similar device) along with time from a tech savvy family member or friend to assist you in setting up the gadget. Fitbit and Jawbone are two programs that I have observed as really excellent, but there are others as well. Don’t forget: walking 10,000 steps a day changes health. This level of movement prevents diabetes, improves the quality of most sleeping and supports positive mental health. Increasing your daily movement will be far easier than you might imagine, when using one of these convenient programs.

6. Commit to eating a protein-rich breakfast daily.

7. Consider purchasing a full spectrum light for where you eat breakfast. It is a less expensive alternative is buying a full spectrum lightbulb for a lamp you already have.

8. Be outside at least 10 minutes a day, even on rainy or cloudy days.

9. Thoroughly enjoy food that you are eating, regardless of what it is. Stop to notice the taste, color, texture, and what you really like about it. Don’t feel guilty; guilt comes with no benefits. Have a plan to get your eating back on track the next day.

10. If you are tired, try a 20- to 40-minute nap.

For more Waypower ideas, check out our Holiday book, Surviving the Holidays, available on Amazon.

5-Step Eating Plan for Loving the Holidays

 

We are entering one of the seasons characteristically rich with gatherings, celebrations, gift giving and receiving, seeing old and new friends, good cheer, deadlines and stress.  That’s a great deal for any of us to handle, much less handle well.

Hopefully, a few fairly simple tips will ease the way for your greater enjoyment of this holiday season. It is certainly my intent to do away with the added pounds as well as the torture and guilt that frequently accompany unanticipated holiday eating.

Try following these tips and you’ll love the holidays even more than expected:

1. Take a few minutes to plan with your calendar of the scheduled holiday events in hand.  Mark those days with a star, where you anticipate higher than usual calorie eating. (We’ll call these Holly-days.)  Star your calendar. After every Holly-day, have 3 high protein, good nutrition days.

2. No matter how busy these days may get, make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Four days of sleep deprivation will increase sugar cravings.

3. Walk at least 10 minutes a day, preferably in the mornings. Walk perhaps a few more minutes on the mornings you are anticipating the possibility of binge eating.

4. Throughout the holidays, focus on eating high-protein foods, not carbohydrates.

5. Post two full days of healthy and satisfying meals (2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinner meals) in a prominent spot in your kitchen or on the refrigerator. Purchase the necessary ingredients so they are at your fingertips.

When life alters your plan, and it will, pick yourself up and move on, still loving the holidays. “Start overs” are allowed.