01/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

22 Tips For Navigating The Holiday Table

Thanks to the pleasures of overindulgence, the holidays are often a time of accelerated aging. Even worse, is the fact that the aging is so visible. Gray pallor, bags under the eyes from stress, too much egg nog and lack of sleep; loss of facial contours from binging on sugars and starches. I think you get the picture -- and its not pretty.

But the news is not all bad. While I can't promise you a Benjamin Button experience, I can help you to enjoy the bounty while preventing a mutiny of the body!

The most important fact to take away from this article is this: foods and beverages can be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. Pro-inflammatory foods accelerate aging and disease in all organ systems, including skin. As a dermatologist, my number one job is to keep your skin healthy, youthful and radiant. This means learning how to control inflammation. I have created a simple, yet highly effective Three-Tiered Program designed to carefully control our blood sugar and insulin levels. To accomplish this we must avoid foods that provoke a "glycemic" response in the body, i.e. cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.

This is the key to health, longevity, mental clarity, well-being and beautiful youthful skin. Foods that are pro-inflammatory, such as all forms of sugar, processed foods, pasta, breads, pastry, baked goods, and snack foods such as rice and corn cakes, chips, pretzels, etc., cause a highly destructive pro-inflammatory response in our bodies.

Follow these simple Tier One Tips to successful navigate the holiday table, avoiding unwanted weight gain while keeping skin radiant and youthful. Future blogs will introduce the other two tiers.

►Eat your protein first before diving into the veggies. This will prevent rises in blood sugar and curb your appetite.

► Look for free range poultry fed organic vegetarian diets, containing no antibiotics, growth hormones or other additives.

► Buy organic vegetables and eat the skins--the greatest concentration of nutrients and fiber are in the skin or right beneath the skin

► Substitute baked organic sweet potatoes for regular potatoes. Bake and serve hot with the skin.

► Sprinkle cinnamon on winter squash and sweet potatoes to stabilize blood sugar.

►Pumpkin and apple pie are great sources of many vitamins and minerals. An added bonus is the liberal use of spices such as ginger and cinnamon which lower blood sugar and provide anti-oxidant protection.

► When baking, choose raw, unfiltered dark honey in place of sugar.

► Make your pie crust flourless--use ground nuts and real butter--not shortening which contains dangerous trans fats

► Add minced garlic to mashed turnips and squash for flavor and anti-oxidants

► Theonine in green tea is calming; helping to relieve stress

►Exercise. Historically we not only blow our diets during the holidays we also fall out of our exercise routine.

►Sleep--not getting enough sleep is linked to the craving of high calorie, high fat foods.

►Don't buy canned nuts. Enjoy nuts in the shell.

►Stay well hydrated with pure spring water

► When it comes to alcohol, choose red wine, rich in flavonols, anti-aging antioxidants

►Studies show a daily glass of red wine offers:
• Protection against certain cancers
• Protection against heart disease
• A positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

►Even healthy foods can raise blood sugar if too much is eaten at one time.

►The road to smooth, wrinkle-free skin and healthy weight is keeping blood sugar and insulin levels even.

►Green foods, such as young barley grass help neutralize the the damaging effects of alcohol on the liver.

►Curcumin, the substance that gives the spice turmeric its distinctive yellow color, stops the changes caused by excessive alcohol consumption that lead to liver damage. I recommend mixing ¼ teaspoon with a little water. This amazing spice will also lower blood sugar and provide superior anti-oxidant protection.

►To help counter the effects of one day's overindulgence, eat lightly the next day.

►Include the omega 3 essential fatty acids to prevent weight gain. Eat wild salmon or sardines and/or take one to three high quality fish oil capsules with each meal.

My next post will feature my favorite food choices for beautiful skin, mental clarity, energy and increased sense of well being.