It’s easy to get wrapped up in the craziness of the holiday season. We let stress get the best of us and we end up eating more sugar, drinking more alcohol and skipping workouts. The negative health implications of chronic stress cannot be overstated.

Stress increases inflammation and exacerbates leaky gut. Chronic stress can also weaken the adrenal glands and disrupt the entire hormonal system. In particular, weak adrenals can directly impact the thyroid gland that regulates digestion, metabolism, immunity, mood, energy, etc. Chronic stress also raises cortisol levels, which increases belly fat and causes appetite dysregulation.

I highly recommend keeping tabs on your stress by using the Social Readjustment Rating Scale ( The scale puts a value on the amount of stress a life event causes. As you might expect, death of a spouse tops the list at a value of 100. Divorce is a close second at 73. Even events that happen during the holidays such as change in sleeping habits, change in number of family get-togethers and change in eating habits make the list. Tallying your score gives you a good indication of your chances of suffering from a stress-related sickness in the near future.

To keep stress under control this holiday season and throughout the year, take walks in the sunshine, practice yoga and meditation, cultivate a positive attitude and keep a gratitude list. It’s important to make time for pleasure every day!

Too much sugar and alcohol also add to your stress load. Choose naturally sweetened treats or skip dessert and, if you drink alcohol, enjoy red wine in moderation for it’s antioxidant properties (maximum 10 ounces per day for men, five for women). Staying hydrated with pure water is also critical to keep the body balanced.

Try to simplify and let your favorite traditions bring you joy. Here’s to a healthy and happy holiday season!

Until next time, make every bite count!