What is Your Eating Pattern? – Choose the best plan for holiday balance and health

May 21, 2018

Getting Beyond Holiday Stress and Sugar Consumption

By Moira Fitzpatrick, PhD, ND

December 2017


The holidays are filled with joy, oftentimes high expectations, less sleep, many treats and often too much alcohol. While there are general guidelines for getting through the holidays, I would like to support you in individualizing a plan for yourself. To do so we will discuss four patterns.

Choose the pattern that most fits your lifestyle and create a plan for holiday balance and health. 


PATTERN 1) Do you need coffee to jumpstart your day? Do you get less than optimal sleep or feel fatigued? Do you find yourself drinking coffee throughout the day or skipping lunch and then craving sugar mid afternoon as your blood sugar drops? You may also find it hard to lose weight and wonder why you keep gaining weight.



  1. Optimize your sleep. This means go to bed around 10:00PM and get up at the same time every day. Get help if you need support to sleep.
  2. Avoid coffee or energy drinks after 1:00 PM.
  3. Eat whole foods and make sure you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  4. Eliminate excess sugar.
  5. Have an afternoon snack that contains protein, such as fruit and nuts, hummus and vegetables or an apple with almond butter, edamame. Protein helps to balance your blood sugar.
  6. Take a multi-vitamin. When your body is missing nutrients, it tends to crave sweets.
  7. Take 3 minutes three times a day to stop, breathe deeply and get yourself centered and grounded.
  8. Exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes in an activity that is fun. Exercise early in the day or evening.


PATTERN 2) Are you the “Go to” person in the family or in your business and everyone comes to you for help? Does it feel like everyone else’s needs come first? Do you find yourself always running – to pick the children up from school, take them to soccer practice, dance, etc., run the household, maybe working part time – living a lifestyle that is exhausting? This pattern often affects women and results in the adrenal glands becoming overtaxed by stress. When we are tired, we naturally reach for sweets. And so begins the blood sugar roller coaster. Blood sugar goes high after that piece of chocolate and then crashes and we become irritable. You may also find yourself becoming light headed when you stand up if your blood sugar is low. Think about going from this scenario in to the holidays….



  1. Make sure you start your day with a high protein meal and include such foods as eggs, beans, a meat of your choice, Greek Yogurt, or a protein shake. Lunch needs to include meat or fish, beans, a salad or vegetables low on the glycemic index, which means no starches. Make sure you have a protein for dinner. Think about fruit for dessert.
  2. Have a protein snack every 2-3 hours. Think about nuts, seeds, hummus and vegetables, hard boiled egg.
  3. Think about shifting from coffee to green tea. Drink hot water with lemon and mint for a refreshing hot or cold drink.
  4. Increase your water intake.
  5. Take a vitamin B complex.
  6. Chromium – take 200 – 500 mcg daily. Chromium is a mineral that helps decrease the symptoms or reactive hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. You can typically get 200 mcg in a multiple vitamin.
  7. Adrenal supplement – An adrenal supplement typically contains adaptogens, which are plants that grow at high altitudes and learn to cope with stress. We get the benefit of how these plants have adapted when we take them. A good over the counter adaptogen for the holidays are Gaia products. Recommend you see a practitioner for chronic stress or fatigue.
  8. Take 3 minutes three times a day to stop, breathe deeply and get yourself centered and grounded.
  9. Do something every day to take care of yourself.


PATTERN 3) Are you the type of person who snacks throughout the day on sweets? Are there donuts, cookies, candy, cakes in the office? Do you find yourself taking a cookie every time you pass through the staff room or kitchen? Do you crave pasta? Are your sinuses running? Feel congested? Have post nasal drip? Do you have irritable bowel? Frequent yeast infections or take antibiotics frequently? You may have yeast overgrowth. Sugar feeds yeast and yeast in your gut causes sugar cravings. Yeast overgrowth is exacerbated by antibiotics, which not only kill pathological bacteria, but also wipe out your good bacteria. Yeast overgrowth also contributes to food allergies. The most common include dairy, gluten and eggs.



  1. Starve the yeast by eating high protein foods such fish, eggs (unless sensitive to eggs), meat of your choice, beans, lentils. Limit starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, white rice, sweet potatoes).
  2. Eliminate sugars and sweets. Consider dark chocolate sweetened by stevia while eliminating cravings. Add fruits such as berries, apples, pears, grapefruit, oranges, cherries for that sweet fix.
  3. Add a probiotic. When choosing a probiotic, get one that does not have to be refrigerated.
  4. Add immune support. Make sure you are taking vitamin D. Add 1000 mg of Vitamin C daily, plus 25 mg of zinc. Zinc is essential for optimal immune functioning. It is often depleted with chronic infections.
  5. Take a multiple vitamin.
  6. See your healthcare practitioner to set up program to eliminate yeast overgrowth.
  7. Do a cleanse after the first of the year.
  8. Take 3 minutes three times a day to stop, breathe deeply and get yourself centered and grounded.
  9. Exercise for at least 45 minutes every day.


PATTERN 4) Hormones play a vital role in both your physical and emotional health. If you have a deficiency in estrogen (women) or testosterone (men), you are likely to crave sugar. If you are depressed or sad and your serotonin is low, you may crave sugar. If your progesterone is low you may be anxious and struggle with insomnia. Do you have PMS and crave sweets? Do you have hot flashes, trouble sleeping, low sex drive, headaches, fatigued? Are you gaining weight around the middle? For men, do you have erectile dysfunction or decrease in erections? Do you have diabetes, high triglycerides, high cholesterol?


What about insulin? Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar. When you have too much sugar, it stresses the body and you make too much insulin. This decreases your blood sugar, you often feel irritable and anxious, then exhausted and you crave sugar. Insulin is like the door that allows sugar to enter the cells from the bloodstream. This sugar or glucose is used as energy. When this system works well, your body makes sugar from complex carbohydrates and protein, burns calories and regulates hunger. When you have insulin resistance, the door to your cells does not open and sugar builds up in your blood. The cells are not receiving the sugar they need, and you end up feeling tired and craving sugar. When the sugar does not get into your cells, it has to go somewhere, hence it gets turned in to fat.



  1. Avoid foods high in sugar. Eat high protein foods and stay hydrated. Some high protein foods include fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu (organic), tempeh, edamame, beans, lentils, quinoa, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, yams, beets, mushrooms. (in descending order)
  2. Exercise for at least 45 minutes a day.
  3. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. This means no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.
  4. Get support for hormone imbalances. There are a variety of herbs and nutrients to support women with PMS. I recommend Women’s Phase I (Vitanica). Take 2 capsules twice a day from day 14 until your period.
  5. Perimenopausal women – get support from your practitioner depending on where you are in the process. Get your adrenals assessed.
  6. For men, if your testosterone levels are low, get support to raise your level and work out to build muscle, which in turn increases testosterone.
  7. Menopausal women – look at options for creating hormone balance with herbs and bio-identical hormones if this is your choice.
  8. When evaluating hormone balance include thyroid, adrenals, blood sugar, reproductive hormones.
  9. Get your vitamin D levels checked and take vitamin D.
  10. Take a vitamin B complex.


So remember…eat regular whole food meals, exercise daily, get regular sleep, drink in moderation, stay hydrated, take time for yourself, and know that sweet satisfaction happens in the first few bites, so savor the flavor and leave the rest.   


Ready to learn more about how you can use food as medicine?

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Understanding Naturopathic Primary Care

Dr. Moira Fitzpatrick, a specialist in naturopathic care and holistic medicine, promoting well-being and integrative health practices