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Holidays: How to Protect Health, Joy & Meaning From Sugar-Blues (Rehearse to Stay Focused), 2 of 2

It’s not rocket science. To be at your very best, you need a set of conscious choices that protect your happiness, and this often means, as explored in Part 1, taking steps to protect your physical and emotional health from blood-sugar imbalances caused by the food and drink you put into your body.

In this post, we’ll look at a few ideas on how to prepare in advance for holiday gatherings, more specifically, to think with the end in mind by planning your choices in advance, and use your brain’s power of imagination to “rehearse” the priorities you set – so that you may enjoy yourself while also making healthy choices.

Actions without conscious thought? Confusion!

Modern brain-scan technology has made what may be the most incredible discovery of all time about you, that: Your brain is capable of amazing feats. It’s ever ready to help you make continuous changes throughout your life.

In fact, it performs these functions automatically without your conscious involvement, continuously rewiring and reshaping itself.

Whether these changes are in a positive direction that strengthens your capacity for courage and resiliency, agency and creativity, healing and regeneration, however, is another matter. Unwittingly, this ‘automatic’ – or subconscious – learning can also be the root cause of many problems, big ones, such as addiction to substances, and sugar addiction, perhaps the most widespread and damaging, which is at play during the holidays.

In the words of one renown poet and author:

“Life without Freedom is like a body without a soul. And Freedom without Thought is like a confused spirit…”
Without conscious thought in certain situations, there is confusion, indecision, and actions that are automatic and controlled by the body’s sensory processes. This describes a state of mind and body vulnerable to a host of addictions.
The key to harnessing the untapped potential of your brain lies in getting to know and understand your capacity to self-direct changes with conscious thought and action, should you choose to cultivate and use it.
The realization of any goal, however, necessitates that you are fully present in mind and body, and one life-harming thing that holiday gatherings have in common is a plethora of food and drink doused with sugar  – a seemingly harmless substance, now proven a toxic mind-altering drug, as addictive as cocaine and heroine.
Truth be told, sugar addiction, and its accomplice food addiction, may be what steals the most joy during the holidays!
Here are a few tips to put together your own personal strategy for setting a conscious intention to remain focused on your goals to make healthy choices and cultivate a healthy lifestyle – even as you party and celebrate holiday gatherings.
  • Set aside a few moments the day before, the day of and on your way to an event, to rehearse in your mind what you will and will not do. This prepares and strengthens you psychologically to not get caught off guard. For example:
    • Choose foods with the end in mind. See yourself eating foods that support your healthy lifestyle and allow you to not only feel great after the meal, but also get a good night’s sleep.
    • Imagine yourself taking small bites and savoring each mouthful, putting down the tableware between bites, enjoying a conversation with others around you, and so on.
    • See yourself saying “No” to what is costly and “Yes” to enjoying the benefits  – and fun – of sticking to health and wellness goals.
    • Smile and feel the good feelings of making healthy choices with relative ease and confidence.
    • See yourself easily passing up foods that you know from past experiences they’ve left you feeling lousy, bloated, numbed out after a meal.
    • Picture yourself looking past those foods that previously tempted you and easily saying “No!” because you now see how they’ve robbed you of restful nights of sleep, stole your energy or spoiled your mood for days after.
  • Start a practice of associating foods that support a healthy lifestyle with words such as “safe and healthy,” “delicious and energizing” or “nourishing and happy-energy” and so on.
  • Link sugary, high-carb fatty foods, in contrast, with words such as “unsafe and stress-inducing” or “toxic and happiness-stealing” and so on.
  • Decide in advance what you will be eating and that you will not deviate from the plan. Then stick to your plan.
  • In cases where you don’t know what is being served (more often than not), keep to general guidelines, such as 25% protein, 25% carbohydrates and at least 50% green, leafy or brightly colored vegetables.
  • Be prepared to say “No, thank you” to certain invitations, i.e., to have seconds or to take home leftovers, and picture yourself doing so.
  • Decide whether you will eat ‘dessert’ or not, and you do, see yourself choosing one small portion.
  • Decide other guidelines in advance and envision yourself following them easily and effortlessly.

If you choose one food in the category of dessert, picture yourself having only one piece, letting go of guilt or afterthoughts, and enjoying the thought that you first ate wholesome food to protect your body from its impact.

You may also wish to consider taking a digestive enzyme at the start of a meal and a probiotic after a meal to energize your digestion. (If you do, follow instructions on bottle or check with your nutritionist.)
A conscious partnership?

Love it or leave it, you have a built-in capacity to self-direct changes in your lifestyle and health, with conscious thought and action, that is, once you know how to get your body to work together with your mind.

In a new book, Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness and Spiritual Well-Being, best selling author and doctor of internal medicine and endocrinology, Deepak Chopra, M.D. has paired up with Harvard Professor and Director of Genetics and Aging Research, Rodoph Tanzi, Ph.D., to write a manual for understanding this limitless and untapped potential of the brain for regeneration is directly affected by your thoughts.

The realization of healthy goals necessitates you are fully present in mind and body to make conscious choices to steer away from addictive food and drink and and toward healthy options instead.

As the saying goes, if you ‘fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ This applies to your health goals as it does your career and financial goals.

As amazing as your brain is, the real key to harnessing the untapped potential of your brain is you in conscious partnership with your brain. It is the formation of an intimately empathic and caring relationship that can help you realize what you really, really aspire for your life and relationships this holiday season. You need this relationship to consciously choose to provide the optimal fuel, energy and nutrients it needs to operate at its best!
Enjoy the holidays more this season! Choose to cultivate a conscious lifestyle. Set an intention to be present and conscious and …
Say “Yes!” to being captain of your thoughts & choices!
Holidays: How to Protect Health, Joy & Meaning From Sugar-Blues (Rehearse to Stay Focused), 2 of 2

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik shows clients how to break free of anxiety, addictions, and other emotional blocks, to awaken radiantly healthy lives and relationships. Dr. Staik is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2013). Holidays: How to Protect Health, Joy & Meaning From Sugar-Blues (Rehearse to Stay Focused), 2 of 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from


Last updated: 3 Jan 2013
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jan 2013
Published on All rights reserved.