FESTIVE F(e)ASTING

      Celebrate! Maintaining Health and Weight
 
      Balancing feasting with fasting is my secret for ebulliently enjoying holiday festivities to the max.  (I’ve heard, however, there are more restrained levels of holiday enjoyment.  Choose what suits you.) Yes, I can party hearty with a free conscience and keep my svelte physique.  And you can, too.  Here are the details for you to emulate or adapt respecting your personal physical condition to boost your holiday pleasure without diminishing your health or adding inches to your waistline.

      Use a mono-food regimen for a meal or a day or a weekend after festively feasting.  Technically, fasting means consuming water only, which should be done only with professional supervision. However, you can fully foster seasonal joy and easily maintain health and weight by following a short-term mono-food “fast” (with the approval of your healthcare provider, of course).  This protocol lets physical, mental and spiritual systems rest, recover and rebalance from a plethora of fats, sugars, salt and exotic spices in some pretty strange combinations, consumed amidst glittering stimulation and animated conversation.  
                                           ~ Enjoy Samplings ~
      Even if I know what’s being served for a multiple course dinner, I enjoy sampling those hors d’oeuvres that call to me like the fabled sea sirens portrayed in “Jason and the Argonauts.”  Those procuitto wrapped shrimp, a few blue corn chips piled with mango salsa, not to mention the Chevre Brie harboring morel mushrooms.  And then dinner is served….  My stomach makes an easy transition from its usual meals like oatmeal-yogurt-fruit; omelets folded around veggies and brown rice, drizzled with hot sauce; fresh veggie salads with a handful of kasha or millet mixed in.  I rarely get that green-gilled queasy feeling accompanied with “uh-oh, I really overdid it” worries.  
      Homeostasis is technical terminology for your body’s intelligent maintenance of a middle ground.  And my body certainly has had impressively challenging recovery work after some celebrations.  I’m not talking about bingeing, either.  Just festive eating, which let’s face it, does by definition include a little splurging.  What’s a party for!?  Hey, that rhymes with petit four.
I’m psyched and salivating for those exquisitely decorated pastry morsels.  
                                   ~ Splurge Consciously ~  
      But please don’t walk over to me with that tired old trip expressing surprise that such a health conscious person would be veering so far off my “normal” track.  There is no incongruity for me to fully enjoy occasional conscious splurges.  Science acclaims the strengthening power of well-timed stress of short duration.  A fetal chick needs to fight its way out of that shell, and a butterfly’s unaided struggle from its cocoon is a prerequisite for survival.  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  Now, if you’re so unconscious that you don’t know when to back off, you might very well overpower your body’s ability to do its job of restoring balance.  Time to share a parable.  
      Once upon a time there were two French frogs (les grenouille) that hopped unnoticed into a Marseille kitchen.  Fanny leaped into a bubbling bouillabaisse and sprang right out with nary a blister on her bum.  Freda thought she was in spa heaven luxuriating in a tepid aromatic pink cream bath (in this parable, which I’ve just made up, a frog doesn’t recognize lobster—“homard”—bisque) that a half hour later was served steaming as “Bisque avec Homard et Grenouille.”  The moral: it’s not sudden shocks, but the slow imperceptible escalation of stress that can be fatal.
      Besides, I certainly don’t want to develop into an old fuddy-duddy.  I have accepted the “old” portion only for the numbers related to chronological age as I tool around on Harley and step through snow to plunge into the Brandywine.  However, over years of holistic living I have trained my taste buds towards truly healthy foods, and those in mostly moderate quantities.  
                                           ~ Soften Rigid Rules ~  
      I hope these words and concepts encourage you to consciously relax and enjoy yourself a little more this holiday season.  Soften those limiting, rigid rules that give you the illusion that you have complete control over your life.  When I deprive myself of a satisfying wholesome party experience, my subconscious tries to compensate long afterwards.  It can justify numerous mediocre treats with cravings that simply don’t exist after I have fully partied.   Micromanagement is the biggest holiday humbug, in my opinion.  Holistic living does have a healthy bottom line that’s achieved as a result of a flexible flowing dance amidst variables that only you perceive as “obstacles” or “growth opportunities.”  I remind you that attitude is a choice.
      Let me add an important fact about another choice.  I choose to abstain from alcoholic beverages because their effect lowers my awareness faster than it takes goose poop to hit the ground.  By all means, enjoy nursing a glass of Chateauneuf du Pape or Dom Perignon as part of a celebratory evening, if that pleases you.
                                 ~ Apples Satisfy and Restore ~             
      So, now that we’ve established a context for understanding this mono-food homeostatic restoration strategy, let’s look at the details.  I recommend fresh local apples that you can munch and crunch as their sweet-tart nectar dances on your taste buds.  All that tasty moist fiber (2 grams per apple) broom-cleans your digestive organs and blood vessels of residues from the sweet butter cradling Baltic Beluga Caviar and from the melt-in-your-mouth roast beef smothered in creamy horseradish sauce, not to mention the six (or was it eight?) blissful, heavenly dark chocolate truffles.  
      Eat two or three unpeeled apples as your breakfast the morning after—as many as you need to feel satisfied.  They are nature’s own multi-vitamins with anti-oxidants and an array of trace minerals.  Another, or even two, for a mid morning snack keeps your metabolism chugging along as body diligence burns those party calories.  It’s like adding some smaller kindling to a
wood fire when big logs are only smoldering.  Repeat for lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, evening snacks, if desired.  
      There are soooo many different colors, flavors and textures of apples that are grown in your area of the country you can truly enjoy a fresh picked variety of the crispiest and tastiest.  Mix them unpeeled into a cubed apple “salad’’—Gala, Fuji, McIntosh, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Stayman, Braeburn are just a few possibilities.  Surprising news from friends just back
from a month-long road trip: apples are thriving crops in Arkansas and New Mexico.   I’ve only associated apples with northern climes—until now.  Seems apple crops thrive in the higher elevations of New Mexico, and Arkansas  “black apples,” speculated to be a seedling of  Winesaps go back to the late 1800’s.  Their extremely beautiful, dark purplish red skin encloses scrumptiously crisp, juicy, firm yellow flesh.
                                      ~ Add Water  ~  
      Eat any combination of apples for meals and snacks for up to three days—until balance is restored.  Drink plenty of pure water, too.  During this rebalancing time, refrain from coffee beyond a morning cup because it is an irritant, prevents absorption of important vitamins and proper utilization of some minerals, robs inositol and biotin, and causes other vitamins to be pumped through and out of the body.  If you feel a little fatigued choose one or more of the following options: drink another glass of water; eat another apple; meditate for 10 minutes; stroll briskly around the block; take a nap.
      After your apple “fast,” lunch and dine on spectacular (raw and cooked) vegetable-laden salads dressed with glistening olive oil vinaigrette – a healthy fat that floats away the ones that clog blood vessels.  Follow with another apple breakfast the next morning, and your smart body burns all those excess party calories!    
      I like to arrive at a party with a hearty appetite.  (I’d get a good guest award if there were one! However, my valued prize is being invited back.)  Eating an apple or two or three at home while I’m getting dressed is a healthy party preface.  After the party, take a leisurely walk savoring the quiet, star-lit night.  Take some deeeeep breaths of fresh air.  Brew a cup of mint tea.  Attractively arrange your breakfast apples in a basket, all washed and polished to a gleam.  
      Continue to train your taste buds to enjoy natural, wholesome foods, and your body to enjoy outdoor activity all year long.  Over time parties will come to mean so much more than food.

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