In Fine Fettle: Surviving summer without rehab

By Ammi Midstokke
Reader Health Columnist

I’m not sure if it is the lake town atmosphere, our celebration of sunshine, or the general social acceptability of alcoholism, but it generally feels as though most of the town could use a stint in rehab come September. 

Ammi Midstokke.

There is a pattern to our health cycles, like the patterns in nature. With the New Year, people want to shed the old (pounds, habits) and bring in a fresh start, like setting the roots for growth. In the spring, there is a mad dash to get more swimsuit-viable. In September my office fills with stories of barbecues, 4th of July parties, boat rides, weddings, and a general condensation of libation now mostly visible in our mid-sections. 

Sadly, I also hear a tone of guilt over the loss of self-control. A sort of tossing-caution-to-the-wind that happens. To me, it happens after about one margarita and I suddenly find myself elbow deep in a bowl of corn chips. By the time I have scooped an embarrassing amount of guacamole into my face, I’ve pretty much committed to getting most of my dinner calories from alcohol and Juanita’s. 

It’s later when I forget how many calories that actually was and my stomach is still empty and my inhibitions are gone, that I remember I need some protein, preferably in the form of a kielbasa with some sauerkraut. Oh and those potato chips count as a veggie/carb thing, right?

In the interest of health progress, I would like to change that pattern this year and be a little more intentional about those celebrations and finger-food meals. Food and drink are part of the joys of life in the flesh, so I am not convinced that deprivation is a particularly good practice. And we know that post-debauchery guilt has no place in our motivation to create change.

If we can set intention every day about how we prepare ourselves to be nourished, then we can get to that reception knowing that we’ll enjoy the food we choose to eat and the champagne we sip without sliding down the slipper slope of gluttony. Some effective ways to do this:

1. Eat good food during the day. That means get plenty of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and hydrate well. Going to the party or beach on an empty stomach or malnourished means less control when faced with crackers and salami. 

2. Having more than one cocktail or grown-up beverage? Then make a commitment to yourself to consume a full glass of water between them. Just switch to water until that glass is empty. You’ll stay hydrated and slightly reduce the damage the alcohol and sugar are causing.

3. Speaking of sugar ­— blood sugar highs and lows are basically primordial signalers to find the most calorie-dense food available. If you drink cocktails and eat chips – well, what goes up must come down. The next day, you’ll find yourself craving more carbohydrates again. Mitigate this by avoiding the sweet cocktails and eating plenty of protein and fat to slow down those insulin surges and drops. 

With a tiny bit of consistency, you’ll reach the end of summer with some good memories, wearing the same size pants, and not needing a week in detox. 

Ammi Midstokke is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner with a clinic in Sandpoint. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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