The holidays are upon us again – and in my world that is fantastic. I love all the festive lights, decorations, and special foods. These holiday joys are as special to me now as they were in the past because of time spent with family and friends during the holidays. Some people think good memories are only made in plentiful times but it’s often the process of making things work in tough times that even sweeter memories are made. No matter what’s going on in your world, I wish you the best of holidays – the kind of holidays that feed your soul with wonderful memories for years to come.
Besides feeding your soul, the holidays usually include feeding your body with all the delicacies of the season. The sharing of food is always a big part of holiday festivities. When you look through your mind’s eye into the past, can you see and perhaps even taste some of your favorite foods? For many people, these special holiday foods are what they remember most.
In almost every culture, special occasions revolve around food. In our society, people eat for social or entertainment reasons on a daily basis. While the social aspect of eating is important, it’s essential to provide your body with the nutrition it needs. Problems begin when food unknowingly becomes entertainment.
Now go back to your oldest memories of holidays… Were you able to eat large amounts of delicious, sometimes decadent foods, yet not feel terrible afterward? It’s likely that you didn’t even gain more than a couple pounds after indulging in those holiday foods. Ah yes, those were the days!
What’s different? Why does every New Year have to start out with a diet and/or a detoxification program? The answer is that our bodies are trying to adapt to today’s foods. When we’re eating processed foods filled with hormones and excitotoxins we usually gain weight. Fat storage areas in the body must also increase to protect us from the dangerous toxins in our food and environment.
Over the holidays treats seem to be everywhere. One of the biggest differences between today’s treats and those of the past are the sweeteners used in them or to decorate them. In the past, foods were often sweetened with sorghum, molasses, or raw honey. If you’re not familiar with the first two ingredients, I believe they’ll become your friends when you are baking after you get to know them. They can make foods more sweet and interesting while increasing nutritional value.
White refined sugar and all artificial sugars are completely devoid of nutrition, whereas natural sweeteners such as raw cane sugar, coconut sugar, and real maple syrup provide minerals. For my patients with cancer and diabetes, I recommend inositol, a B-vitamin that is a safe sweetener.
Why are minerals such a big deal? Not only are they needed by the body for maintenance and repair but they can help keep us from overeating. To break overeating cycles, we must give the body what it needs which is often minerals.
The human body is smarter than we give it credit for. Ruling out emotional problems, overeating is usually a sign that the body is trying to meet its nutritional needs from poor quality conventional foods that have been stripped of vitamins and minerals to increase shelf life and/or profits. The body doesn’t work well when it’s deprived so we end up eating more.
An inexpensive way to obtain many of the minerals needed by the body is by eating real salt. I’m not talking about the common table salt that was redefined by the National Academy of Food Sciences in 1999 as being 98% sodium chloride and 2% anything else; and for the record, I agree with my medical friends on the dangers of this processed table salt. The difference is that real salt contains a variety of minerals so it has a far different effect on the body.
Celtic Sea Salt obtained from the coast of France and harvested in the ancient Celtic tradition is our first choice because it contains 60 to 80 different minerals. Himalayan salt is also good but doesn’t provide as many minerals as the Celtic. Being millions of years old, Himalayan salt contains fewer minerals because it had less time to accumulate them. It was the salt left behind when the ocean in that part of the world dried up. Hmmm…I wonder if they called that global warming.
While real salt with naturally occurring minerals is a healthy addition to most diets, a small percentage of people with high blood pressure are allergic to salt. If you think you could be one of these people, be sure to be tested before adding salt to your diet. For more information, read Salt Your Way to Health by David Brownstein, M.D.
There are so many wonderful healthy delicious foods to enjoy this holiday season. Just beware of artificial non-foods that are often heavily advertised to entice both kids and adults to try them. If you’re planning to purchase ready-made holiday goodies, be sure to read ingredients first and avoid buying anything with ones you can’t pronounce. If it looks suspiciously artificial, it’s probably something you should skip. On the other hand, if you buy it and eat it, you’ll have even more reason to attend our Detoxification/Weight Loss Workshop on Thursday, January 11th at my office.
If you’re fortunate enough to have the time and resources, perhaps you can find favorite recipes from the past and make some homemade holiday foods and treats using real ingredients; but if you must make conventional food choices this holiday season, be gentle with yourself, treat yourself well, and appreciate everything that’s most important in life which includes Peace, Joy, Love, Serenity, Knowingness (not second-guessing yourself) and Connectedness (being connected to everything and everyone important to your existence which extends to the entire world) and Goodwill to All!
Happy Healthy Holidays to you from Dr. William H. Karl, D.C. and crew!