Thrive During the Holidays
Tips to Help you Thrive this Holiday Season
Thanksgiving is upon us and the holidays are pretty much in full swing. I have had several conversations with friends who are feeling a little out of sorts and not exactly ecstatic that the holidays are here. Some are complaining about the election, others are dreading the hectic schedule because they lack energy to get it all done, while others are struggling with food issues, and still others are feeling a little down.
My best advice is to simplify the holidays and mimic nature as best as you can. Nature is falling asleep right now as the northern hemisphere points away from the sun. This is essential to create renewal in the spring.
Instead of focusing on the lack of light, use it as a tool. This holiday season it might make sense to take some time to go within. Making time to meditate or just deep breathe, take a walk in nature, or simply light a candle to facilitate tuning in to ourselves. This helps us connect with what the holiday season is all about. Let’s be grateful for the wisdom late fall/early winter brings in teaching us about the need for withdrawal as an essential part of renewal.
Many of us are being pulled in a million different directions which makes this feel impossible to do. Just try as best you can and see what happens.
Wishing You Peace and Love,
Be sure to check out the healthy & delicious holiday recipes below.
5 Tips to Help You Thrive During the Holiday Season
The holidays provide an amazing array of influences that can set you up to fall into the spiral of unwanted weight gain, exhaustion and moodiness. The combination of stress, decreased levels of serotonin due to shorter days, consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates, alcohol consumption and reduction in your exercise program is a set-up for disaster if you aren’t prepared for it.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to control what happens over the holidays.
1. Simplify to reduce stress. One of the most proactive moves you can make to keep a handle on the holidays is to simplify—everything you can. The more you simplify the less stress you will experience.
Prolonged stress alters blood sugar causing weight gain, mood swings, and fatigue. The mood swings and fatigue lead to even more eating, especially of comfort foods, to alleviate the stress but frankly this just stresses us more. Yikes!
Take a good look at all your holiday traditions so you can decide which ones are healthy and worth keeping and which ones are mostly just stressing you out. My sister and I used to get together for years for a weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make dozens and dozens of cookies to share with friends. Sure, it was fun! But then, as we got older, by the end of the weekend we were both a little grouchy and exhausted. That tradition got the boot and neither of us miss it.
We have found healthier alternatives that nourish us instead of draining our energy. For you, it may mean nixing the elaborate party focused on food and drink while instead choosing to go on a hike in the woods followed by a delicious bowl of nutritious soup served with a simple salad. Or, playing a board game with your loved ones followed by a simple, satisfying meal.
2. Create the right mindset. If you have made some great strides forward with your health this year, congratulations! It’s important to make sure you don’t get derailed over the holidays.
This means making yourself a priority. If you are a female the concept may seem foreign at this time of year. But let’s face it, it isn’t fun for your family and friends if you are exhausted and grouchy or depressed.
If you temporarily get off track, don’t beat yourself up. Simply recommit to yourself. You can do this! Stay focused on supreme self-care. And if you need help, please know that I always have your back
3. Don’t resolve to diet after the holidays. You will only be setting yourself up for binge eating over the next several weeks. Start now and take it one day at a time. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—no pun intended. Successful weight management is based on lifestyle change, not diets.
A great goal to set during the holiday season is to maintain your weight. Trying to lose weight right now is very difficult when everywhere you turn you are tempted by seasonal goodies. Avoid setting yourself up for failure by enjoying some of the foods you love and practicing portion control.
4. Manage your appetite. The most powerful appetite suppressant is a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with protein rich foods like lean chicken, fish, legumes and nuts/seeds during the entire holiday season. The protein will help regulate your blood sugar and insulin while the fiber in veggies, fruits and whole grains will help you feel full and satisfied. A side benefit is that eating well will give you plenty of energy to get everything done on that endless list of yours. You might want to try some of the recipes below.
If you do end up indulging in a favorite dessert, cocktails and/or mashed potatoes with lots of gravy, be mindful about it. Let’s say you have chosen to eat the pumpkin pie. Make sure you savor every bite and watch the portion size. If you stay completely focused on slowly eating the pie, not the other ten things that are running through your mind, you will find it easier to limit yourself to a healthy portion.
I find that many of my clients feel guilty about eating the pie. So, they are less likely to pay attention which doesn’t lead to any pleasure defeating the purpose of eating the pie (or whatever it is you want) in the first place.
Take a break, sit down, relax and let yourself have that goodie with a nice hot cup of tea. Stay in the present moment by taking a little time to connect with what is happening outside and inside. Be good to yourself because you deserve it.
Mindfulness is important the next day after a holiday meal or party. Start your day with a good protein breakfast and eat protein at every meal along with some good nutrient dense choices. Pass on the sugar and the refined carbs like white bread, rice, crackers and low fiber ready to eat cereals which turn to sugar within minutes of eating them. This should get you back on track and keep the sugar monster at bay.
5. Don’t Forget to Breathe. Seriously, this one of the best ways possible to calm yourself and decrease your stress levels. Whenever you feel yourself getting stressed, remember to take a break by taking several deep breaths. Just focus on the inhalation and the exhalation while breathing into your belly and right up to your collar bones. Just 5 minutes of this activity can completely change your physiology.
Be kind to yourself. This is a time of year we should be enjoying ourselves with the people we love and care about. The more you can manage your stress and the holiday madness, the healthier and happier you will be as we turn the calendar into 2017.
RECIPES OF THE MONTH
Holiday Roasted Nuts with Herbs
This delicious nut dish is easy to make and always gets Rave Reviews!
Wild Rice Stuffing with Apples, Dried Fruit & Pecans (Gluten Free)
This has been in the recipe box for years. It’s a simple, easy and delicious substitute for traditional stuffing.
Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie
Switch two ingredients on a traditional recipe to make it dairy-free.