Holiday Challenge: Can You Have A Brain Healthy Holiday?

With Thanksgiving coming up, we’re heading fast into the holiday season with all its temptations – cookies, cakes, sweets of every description, office holiday parties and big family meals that may not be Brain Warrior friendly. I call it the season of the food pushers, those well intentioned friends and family members who urge us to “just take a little bit” of whatever high calorie and sugar laden food item they’ve prepared.

To help you cope with the food pushers (and the temptations), I want to follow up on my “How to Have Healthy Halloween” blog. In that blog I told you about the agreement I have with my daughter on her “trick or treat” haul. I pay her money for each candy bar she’s willing to part with. Then, every week she gets to eat two from her stash. This year, she surprised me by saying “I don’t want two pieces a week. I only want one. I’m going to sell you more and take the money! Two is too much sugar. I don’t want to get sick.” Then she asked me a whole bunch of questions about what sugar does to your body and why diabetes is a problem for young children. She said, “Don’t just tell me it’s bad. Tell me what it does”.

Since Halloween, she has been asking more and more questions about food. Here’s what she texted me from a friend’s house recently: “When is my hair appointment? Do grapes have too much sugar? Are peanuts bad for you?” She wants to know why certain foods are bad for us, and if diet could be responsible for one friend’s bad skin or the fact that another of her friends is often sick. I told her that one in three kids whose diets are loaded with sugar and poor quality foods will end up with type 2 diabetes before they are 20. That’s a horrific health statistic and a scary wake-up call for parents who aren’t monitoring what their kids eat.

How Bad Food Really Hurts You

To answer my daughter’s questions, I told her about inflammation, the destructive slow-burning internal fire that can be ignited by environmental toxins, hormone imbalances, emotional stress, excess body fat (especially belly fat) and high blood sugar levels, but first and foremost by certain foods. We know that many of our most serious diseases stem from this low-level, long-lasting inflammation – heart disease, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and high blood pressure.

The standard American diet is filled with foods that feed the fire. These “pro-inflammatory” foods include fast foods, sugar, simple carbohydrates, dairy products, trans fats, some animal-derived saturated fats and excess omega-6 fatty acids. Foods that are processed, engineered or refined promote chronic inflammation.

Can you imagine what our annual holiday binge does to keep the fires of inflammation burning?

The Brain Warrior’s Way and the Omni Diet are designed to reduce inflammation. Plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, seeds and certain herbs and spices. All these foods contain compounds that turn down inflammation and lower the strain it puts on your cells.

As a nation, we worry a lot about holiday weight gain and don’t focus on the threat to health posed by inflammation. But that’s really what we should be thinking about. Do you really want to fuel the fire or has the time come to quench the flames? Can you accept the challenge to be a WARRIOR this holiday season?

 

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