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Excess – in Moderation

Posted Dec 01 2009 10:04pm

The Holidays are a difficult time for many people. Too much food. Too much alcohol. Too much family and frolicking. Too much temptation. Happily there are many helpful guides out there to help you navigate your way through all this. Unhappily there are too many of these damn things.

So here is your guide to surviving the holiday survival guides.

First take them with a pinch of salt. But only a pinch – after all too much salt is bad for your blood pressure.

Here’s an example of why you need to approach these guides with caution. Dr. Gillian Stephens, an assistant professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine has put together a list of things to do to stay healthy this Holiday season.

Number one on her list is “Keep your distance”. She says if you are at a party or other social gathering you should avoid getting too close to people for fear you can catch a cold or flu. She also says don’t eat from a buffet because if everyone else is dunking chips and stuff into dips or grabbing bread rolls with their naked-germ-laden hands there is a chance of contamination.

Which begs the question, why the heck bother going to the party if you are going to spend the evening huddled in the corner, wearing rubber gloves and a mask, afraid to get within four feet of someone or to eat anything for fear you might get contaminated!

Come on Gillian, loosen up girl. It’s the Holidays!

Rena Mendelson, a professor at Ryerson University School of Nutrition has some tips of her own. It’s the usual sensible kind of stuff – don’t drink too much, don’t eat too much, if you shop park far away so you have to walk further, get enough sleep etc – but she also talks about trying to reduce stress and going to Holiday parties.

One thing Rena recommends is instead of going to someone else’s party and having to worry about eating healthy you can throw a party of your own!! Right, just the thing to ease the stress of the Holiday season is to hold a party, spending days planning it, shopping for it, cleaning up the house, inviting people, apologizing to people you didn’t invite but who heard about the party saying “the invitation must have got lost in the post”, then being the host making sure everyone is greeted, that there’s always enough food out, always enough wine/beer/liquor around.

How bloody relaxing is that?

Maybe we should all just combine Rena and Dr. Gillian’s advice and hold a party of our own but not actually invite anyone, that way we won’t be exposed to their germs and microbes.

Now, I’m not saying you should just ignore these guides and dive into the holidays like a hog into a trough, instead you should take these guides, as you should take everything, in moderation.

They have many good ideas about staying active and getting exercise and sleep and all the other things you should be doing all year round anyway.

But let’s face it, this is the Holiday season. Excess is built in. If you go the entire period without loosening your belt after at least one meal you really are not participating. It’s downright un-American!

So, relax. Have fun. Enjoy it. Understand going in you are going to go a little wild and have backup plans for how to make amends. The Holiday survival guides are there to help us do as little damage as possible. So by all means use them, just don’t over indulge in them.

The only thing worse than feeling like crap after the Holiday season is feeling that you spent so much time trying to avoid the decadence of December that you missed out completely on having a good time and enjoying the company of friends and family.

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