9 Easy Tricks That Protect Your Bones From The Damage Of Holiday Indulgences

What do you think of when you think of the holidays?

Maybe it’s sparkling lights hung from trees, the ruckus of a big family gathering, or a break from the usual routine for something special. No matter what this season holds for you, it almost certainly involves access to a substantial amount of festive food.

While we should certainly be thankful that we have plenty to eat, we must also remain aware that many holiday traditions involve foods that do not support bone health. In fact, many are quite deleterious.

Everyone deserves an occasional treat in moderation, but it can be hard to strategize how to stay on track for your bones in the face of so many unhealthy choices.

Today we’ll have a look at nine effective yet simple tricks to help you enjoy the holidays while eating well to feel great and protect your bones.

1. Don’t Arrive With An Empty Stomach

Few displays are more bountiful than the spread on a holiday table. Be it a party or a dinner, if you’re attending a celebration this time of year you can safely assume there will be more food than the attendees could possibly eat.

If you show up hungry to a table full of less-than-healthy foods, odds are you’ll fill up on dishes that aren’t offering you much in the way of bone-building nutrients, or any nutrients at all. However, studies show that eating something substantial before you see desirable foods actually changes how your brain responds to that sight, triggering less motivation to eat excessively.1

Eat a little something before you go to the big family dinner or the office party and you’ll be more likely to listen to your body and eat only as much as you really need. This will help you avoid the “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” trap that is so temptingly set during the holidays.

2. Savor What You Eat

There’s no rush! In fact, eating quickly results in consuming more than you intended. Here’s why.

It takes the body about 20 minutes to register that you’ve had enough to eat, so if you speed your way through the buffet table you might not feel full until it’s too late and you’ve eaten too much.

Studies show that by eating slowly you feel more satiated while reducing energy intake during meals.2 Take small bites and chew your food thoroughly, taking the time to enjoy the bounty of the holidays. Your body will thank you, and you’ll also improve your digestion!

Relatedly, take a break after you finish for your first helping: walk around, visit with friends and family in another room, or just step outside for a few minutes. Give your body time to evaluate what you’ve had so far before you go for seconds.

3. Protein Helps You Avoid Overeating

Before you start considering the mountain of buttered rolls and you sister-in-law’s infamous cream-of-mushroom casserole, eat something with protein in it. A quinoa salad, lentil soup, or small portion of chicken can help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels while keeping you fuller for longer. With the extended feeling of satiety that protein offers, you’ll be less likely to go to town on that cookie platter.3

Plus protein (including non-animal protein) is an essential tool for building muscle, which as Savers know is essential to growing strong bones. Before your next holiday soiree, start with a healthy source of protein to prepare yourself to eat in moderation.

4. Stay Full With Plenty Of Fiber

You will stay fuller longer if you’ll include high fiber foods in your holiday indulgences.4 So don’t forsake that crudité platter. The fiber in those vegetables will stick with you, protecting you from impulsively eating acidifying foods later on. Plus fiber promotes bone health by supporting the liver.

5. Focus on Healthy Fats

It’s true that there are many unhealthy fats on the holiday table. Avoid the refined sugar and the fatty meats, but embrace the healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are found in avocados, nuts and olive oil. You need fats in your diet to absorb fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, E and even the bone essential vitamin D.

6. Shun The Sugar

Beware of the piles of chocolate chip cookies, the mugs of chocolate mousse and the other sickly sweets that are ever present this time of year. The refined, added sugar in these items contributes to many ills, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and the destruction of bone.5

In addition to the obviously sugary choices, there is a surprising amount of refined sugar in many simple carbs like white bread, dinner rolls or buttery crackers. Opt instead for whole grains and try to get the complex carbohydrates in legumes, sweet potatoes, or quinoa.

And don’t forget that there are plenty of bone-healthy carbohydrates available in alkalizing fruits and vegetables!

7. Empower Yourself With Choice

Often we get stuck in a less than useful moral dichotomy when considering food, in which healthy foods are the only conscionable choice and everything that is not healthy is bad and forbidden. This leads to a sense that you can’t have certain foods, which tends to inspire a rebellious desire to have them anyway.6

Instead of playing these head games with yourself, acknowledge the power you have in the choices you make. Remind yourself that you can eat a giant slice of pecan pie, but you don’t want to, because you know it will make you feel bad later, and doesn’t help you accomplish your goals.

Shifting this frame from “I can’t have it” to “I can have it, but I don’t want it” empowers you to consider more than just the impulse of the moment, and embrace that you’re in control of your bone-healthy diet.

8. Take it Easy on Yourself

One of my favorite things about the Save Our Bones Program is that it isn’t a rigid all-or-nothing system that stops working if you occasionally deviate from the plan. The holidays are a special time, and it’s okay to allow yourself a special treat in celebration.

We are heavily influenced by our environment, and the environment of festivities provide us with an overwhelming number of unhealthy temptations. Just because you decide to break your normal diet and indulge doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or a weak person. You’re just human!

Getting down on yourself isn’t helpful, so accept your ability to break the rules every once in a while, then refocus on what’s most important to you.

9. Share The Good Health

Let’s say you’re going to a party or a dinner and you know it’s going to be dominated by acidifying entrees, empty carb side dishes and sugary desserts. You don’t have to play victim to the folly of others. In fact, you can come to the rescue!

Savers know about the many benefits of cooking at home. The holiday spirit of sharing and offering is an opportunity to show everyone how delicious healthy meals can be. Bring a dish (or two!) that you know will allow you to follow the 80/20 ratio that facilitates optimal bone growth (80% alkalizing foods, 20% acidifying). Chances are, your friends and loved ones will be glad you did!

Figuring out recipes can be a stumbling block that keeps you from following through on your healthiest intentions. That’s why I created Bone Appétit, the companion cookbook to the Program. With more than 200 recipes it provides a bone-bolstering dish for every occasion.

Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!

Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!

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I hope you’ll apply the tips we’ve reviewed today to make the most of your holiday without giving up the fight for stronger, healthier bones.

Till next time,

References:

1Leidy HJ, Lepping RJ, Savage CR, Harris CT. “Neural responses to visual food stimuli after a normal vs. higher protein breakfast in breakfast-skipping teens: a pilot fMRI study.” Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Oct;19(10):2019-25. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.108. Epub 2011 May 5. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21546927

2Andrade AM1, Greene GW, Melanson KJ. “Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women.” J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Jul;108(7):1186-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.026.
Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18589027

3Clifton P. “Effects of a high protein diet on body weight and comorbidities associated with obesity.” Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S122-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512002322. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23107523

4Howarth NC1, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. “Dietary fiber and weight regulation.” Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39.Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11396693

5Welsh JA, Sharma A, Cunningham SA, Vos MB. “Consumption of added sugars and indicators of cardiovascular disease risk among US adolescents.” Circulation. 2011 Jan 25;123(3):249-57. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.972166. Epub 2011 Jan 10. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21220734

6Herman CP, Polivy J. “Normative influences on food intake.” Physiol Behav. 2005 Dec 15;86(5):762-72. Epub 2005 Oct 21. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16243366

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14 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Helene Laidlaw December 31, 2016, 12:44 pm

    great

  2. Patricia Murray December 25, 2016, 4:34 am

    Vivian
    I look forward to your weekly updates and have taken on board many of your suggestions for strengthening my bones. You are much appreciated in this world of big Pharma and all the pressure to take on board a very dubious medical mode for treating osteoporosis.

    Wishing you and your family a healthy and happy life.

    Patricia

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA December 26, 2016, 8:59 am

      Thank you, Patricia! Wishes for health and happiness for you and your family as well.

  3. Carolyn December 23, 2016, 5:02 pm

    Thank you Vivian for all your dedication to the saver’s program that you tirelessly provide for us. All the information you provide is encouraging, helpful and timely. Want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and healthy 2017. Keep up the good work!!!

  4. Ita. December 22, 2016, 12:43 pm

    Thank you, Ita.

  5. Meg December 22, 2016, 12:33 pm

    Dear Vivian, I have been following your site for years now. ..I can’t remember how many! I bought the original Save Our Bones Program book and then the original Bone Appetit book. I have the Blender Magic book and have continued to print out any number of other pieces you have offered. All are good, all I have shared with others. I have a library of Save Our Bones information! Please accept my heartfelt thanks to you and the program on which you have worked so hard and long. I have recommended your site to many of my friends, my doctor, and sometimes even strangers when the issue of bone health comes up. I am always amazed at the exercises and scientific information you pass on, as well. Thank you are just two small words but they are sent along to you with a lot of respect and caring for your time and energy. I look forward to the New Year and the continued information you share with us. m

  6. Louise B. December 22, 2016, 11:16 am

    Thank you Vivian for another year of good things, I love your recipes and appreciate all the articles keeping us up to date.
    All the best to you and yours in the New Year

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA December 22, 2016, 1:17 pm

      Best wishes to you, too, Louise! Keep learning. 🙂

  7. FM December 22, 2016, 8:45 am

    Hi, Great advice. I have been able to do what you suggest such as passing up biscuits(cookies)cakes and the like by imagining all the empty calories and rubbish sugars attacking my body and bones. It works for me. It is possible to retrain one’s brain and not as hard as you might think. I also have cut out dairy except for occaisional bio yogurts and 99.9% of my meat intake.
    Thanks so much Vivian for all your advice! Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA December 22, 2016, 9:54 am

      Wonderful, FM! Thank you for sharing your technique for avoiding bone-damaging foods.

  8. joy markman December 22, 2016, 6:29 am

    Let me second Z letter to you Vivian – you are tremendous – Happy New Year to you & your family, & I would also like to thank you for the article on Saffron & curcumin, I am currently taking saffron while I am coming off my anti-depressant, & it certainly helps – another thing that helps is melissa essential oil that you wrote about. What is going on with the world today, that so many people all over the world are taking anti-depressants!
    Best regards,
    Joy

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA December 22, 2016, 8:38 am

      Thank you so much, Joy! Keep learning and listening to your body. I’m so glad to hear you’ve found the herbs helpful for your situation!

  9. Zarayna December 22, 2016, 4:23 am

    Dear Vivian,

    Please allow me to thank you for all of your research and advice that you provide freely and to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
    Kindest,
    Z.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA December 22, 2016, 8:37 am

      You are most welcome, Zarayna. I thank you, too, for your kind words and wishes for the holidays!

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