Integrative Health Blog

How to Obliterate the Effects of the Top Holiday Indulgences

Posted by Dawn Cannon MD, MS on Tue, Jan 05, 2016

125eve.jpgAlthough we may eat and drink our way through the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, almost to a person, we wake up on January 1st with every intention of doing things differently for throughout the coming year.

But what about just trying to clear the cobwebs, wash out the alcohol, get past the effects of all the salted and carmelized nuts, cheese plates, cookies and eggnog, and get moving after more than a few missed work-outs? You know, a jump-start to get to the lifestyle changes you plan to make for the year.

Here is a plan to obliterate the lingering effects of the Top Five Holiday Indulgences.

  1. Alcohol: Did your one or two-drink-a-day maximum1 turn into a one-drink-a-day minimum – for the last five weeks (with special emphasis on NYE libation)?  If you haven’t kept up on your hydration while drinking, take a few days to replace lost volume and electrolytes. Drinking extra water may help wash out that last blast of holiday cheer, and all those lovely congeners2 that may have made a mild hangover a true pain.
  2. Cheese and creamy desserts: Maybe you’ve had so many cheese appetizers and dairy-based desserts and drinks, you can’t tell which feels more blocked: your sinuses or your colon. While you may ultimately require a more vigorous approach, the effects of food-grade essential oils might surprise you. A drop each of peppermint and eucalyptus oils in steaming water (breathe) for sinus blockages, or wild orange massaged deeply a couple of inches above the bikini line (in women) may suffice. Just don’t get any of the oils in your eyes.
  3. Eat any Carbs? Wending your way through November and December often means encountering (and eating) an embarrassment of baked riches: breads, cakes, cookies, pies, etc. You’ve had your fair share (or more) of carbs. Now get some high-quality protein. At every meal. Protein at breakfast (which you certainly should be eating regularly) helped lower the post-meal blood sugar at the next meal in diabetics3. Similarly, the negative after-effects of poor choices at mealtime linger for hours.4

Holiday indulgences may not directly involve what we eat or drink. Acceptance of every invitation, attendance at every party, and multiple after-work shopping sessions often leave us feeling depleted and stretched paper-thin.

  1. Less Sleep: Sleep and rest can get bumped way down on the priority list this time of year. Make a commitment to Banish the Blues (blue lights, that is) by turning off all the electronics by 8 or 9 pm. If you must stare unblinkingly into a screen with abundant blue light late in the evening, go to, and download software that will at least dim the blue light so your brain doesn’t think it’s the Land of the Midnight Sun. Rebalance by creating a wind-down routine (for example, hot Epsom salts bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil in the diffuser, chamomile tea, non-stimulating reading or music, noting three things you are grateful for in a lovely notebook) even if you can only get in one or two nights right now. You might surprise yourself and create a good habit.
  2. More Stress: For every person who lives for the holiday season and all its demands, there is another who is gritting his or her teeth through the shopping and wrapping, traveling, prepping, cooking, cleaning, spending, decorating . . . Bless you if you were able to find ways to de-stress and recharge before the New Year began - or are doing so now. Some people just jump back onto whatever treadmill they jumped off of and steamroll themselves right through January and into spring. Try something new, or fun to de-stress. Go spiritual, playful, physical, or try all of the above. People are chanting, centering, breathing, coloring, and meditating themselves into a more relaxed life.

Just a few simple suggestions to help you jump start your healthy New Year holistically!

1.Klarich DS, Brasser SM, Hong MY. Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Colorectal Cancer Risk. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 2015;39:1280-1291.

2Rohsenow DJ, Howland J, Arnedt JT, et al. Intoxication with bourbon versus vodka: effects on hangover, sleep, and next-day neurocognitive performance in young adults. ALCOHOLISM. 2010;34:509-518 10p.

3Young-Min Park, Heden TD, Liu Y, et al. A High-Protein Breakfast Induces Greater Insulin and Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Peptide Responses to a Subsequent Lunch Meal in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr. 2015;145:452.

4Tamburrelli C, Gianfagna F, D'Imperio M, et al. Postprandial cell inflammatory response to a standardised fatty meal in subjects at different degree of cardiovascular risk. Thromb Haemost. 2012;107:530-537.


Dawn_Cannon_blog.jpgDr. Dawn Cannon, MD, MS, is an integrative physician at National Integrative Health Associates, serving the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. Her focus is Integrative medicine: adult primary care and preventive medicine, approached holistically. Her special interests include detoxification for the damaging effects of environmental exposures and toxins, women's health, and a functional medicine approach to finding the root cause of disease.



Topics: holistic health