Your Go-To-Guide For

How To Thrive This Holiday Season 

Without Damaging Your Brain Health

Part 2: Navigating Holiday Foods For Optimal Brain Health

Read Transcript Of Video Below

Welcome back to our three-part series of this simple smart signs Holiday Thrive Guide. I am Julia Lundstrom, your memory and brain health educator. And I'm here to take you through the second part of feeling your best through this holiday season. And this one is a big one, it's holiday foods.

Yes, the holiday season can be a diet buster but it's not just about your waistline. The overload of unhealthy foods and the massive quantities of them greatly affect your memory and your brain health. It can make you feel sluggish and like you're just walking around in a fog. And this is no way to live such a magical time of year.

So first, we're going to go through foods to avoid and then how to manage those big holiday dinners or parties. So first, what to avoid, alcohol. Now, I'm not saying zero alcohol. It's fine to indulge a little over the holidays. Frankly, that's the time you should indulge.

When you're at a party and you're surrounded by friends and family and having a really good time. Every study around alcohol, and especially those coming out of the blue zones, the areas of the world where people live the longest, the healthiest, even over a hundred years old, those studies say that those people drink. But they do it when appropriate and socially.

So when you're not at a party or being social, I'd recommend none, zero, period. Why? Well someone recently told me about breadcrumbs. You see every action has an opposite reaction.

So you get home, you're stressed from shopping and you pour yourself a drink and you're doing it just to take the load off. Then another, because hey, it's the holidays. Maybe even another one or two or more. Let's look at what happens. You sleep poorly, you wake up feeling terrible and probably a little full of regret and guilt. You may even wake up late which completely goes against what I talked about in the first video on how to reduce stress during the holidays. 

And the rest of the day, you're going to make poor decisions like you'll probably eat too much or you'll eat the wrong things and then you probably won't have the willpower to say no to another stress-reducing, actually stress-increasing, glass of wine the following night. These are the breadcrumbs. You take a bite of the bread one night, meaning that glass of wine, and it carries over to the next day, possibly the next couple of days.

Too much also causes inflammation which I won't go into too much here but just know, too much inflammation is the Darth Vader to your brain health and your memory. It's that evil enemy. So relax and have fun at the party, not three days before. I promise it'll make the party that much more fun that way and give you something to look forward to.

Next we have the next one that is so hard to avoid at the holidays and that is sugar. Sugar is also super inflammatory. It's also as addicting as cocaine. Actually, we have the certified memory and cognitive health coach on our staff that specializes in addiction and do you know what she counsels on more than any other drug? Sugar. Yeah, it's that addictive.

Just like alcohol, it's okay to indulge at parties and festivities, but avoid those sugary snacks that people bring in as some kind of holiday treat to work every day. And if you are that person that brings it in, do everyone a favor and just bring a veggie tray instead. People do enjoy those.

So that big holiday dinner is tonight. What are you going to do? You're going to start your day with a healthy breakfast full of healthy fats. I typically intermittent fast everyday 'til about 10:30 or 11 in the morning meaning I just don't eat 'til then. But on holidays, I'll actually eat more on the morning of and have a proper breakfast. You can try some steel-cut oatmeal, throw in some peanut butter for fat in there or even almond butter. Or my go-to breakfast almost every single day is two eggs on top of sautéed spinach, cooked with coconut oil and I love having an avocado on top. And a little salsa, I like my spice.

So the biggest thing is don't skip any meals during the holidays. I know it's tempting to say you're not going to eat before the party or Thanksgiving and you show up starving and you have no willpower and you eat all the wrong things and too much of it, like the sugar. Did you know that you can get a hangover from sugar just like you can from alcohol?

You'll want a good plan. It doesn't mean you have to follow it 100 percent. I always say that if you can hit 80 percent of your goals or your plans, you're doing better than 99 percent of everybody else. So have some good, healthy fat foods on-hands at all times like nuts, like pecans, or almonds, or walnuts. I love to eat half an avocado as a snack with a raw carrot. The carrot gives you the chewing something hard which is critical to your jaw and breathing structures but that's a subject for another time.

Have a good plan with lots of healthy snacks. And that just takes the decision away from you. Did you know that your brain has been shown to only be able to make a certain, limited amount of decisions a day? Then it gets decision fatigue and starts to get lazy and makes the easiest decisions. So take the decision out of the equation on what to eat, what to wear. It'll leave your brain open to make good decisions elsewhere. I also like to visualize the party. If I visualize I'll only have two drinks and then switch to bubbly water which I love and I'll bring with me, that's the planning piece, I actually will do it.

So, okay, that's it for now in this second edition of the Simple Smart Science Holiday Thrive Guide. We'll see you on the next and final video. Thank you.

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