More than anything else this week I want to wish you all a Happy Holiday season filled with family, friends, health, good food, and good fun.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what would help to make this season truly enjoyable and meaningful. What kind of holiday season will lend itself to true good health and joy?
How can we spend our next few weeks so that we are recharged and optimistic come January 1?
I know for myself that it starts with staying almost under committed. Tis the season of crammed schedules and added obligations both socially and with our families and co workers. I’m going to just say yes to the invitations and gatherings that will add to the true spirit of the holidays and will leave me feeling filled up and not drained. Sometimes we just need to say no to a few things so that we can keep our lives sane…and that’s okay. Beyond that, I’ve come up with a list of tips that I hope will help all of you to navigate your way through, and to emerge on the other side feeling satisfied physically, emotionally, and spiritually and ready to take on a new year with gusto.
Tip #1 – Stay hydrated. With the added holiday coffee socials and cocktail hours it would be very easy to become severely dehydrated! Remember to sip throughout the day on your hydrating beverage of choice and to add extra for every dehydrating beverage you consume like alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Remember that if the body’s water content drops by as little as 2% it will cause fatigue! Other early signs of dehydration are irritability and headaches so watch for those. Just this alone, staying hydrated, will offset much of the natural over doing that takes place for many this time of year.
Tip #2 – Sleep! Please be sure to be getting adequate sleep. Make it a priority to get to bed at a reasonable time and to give yourself the luxurious gift of sleeping in when you can. Just a small amount of sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on blood sugar, appetite, skin’s appearance, mood and more. Remember here that in the end, you will be much more productive and much more likely to fight off any viruses if you are well rested. Hard one I know, but critical!
Tip #3 – Limit sugar consumption. This is a very challenging time of year to limit sugar intake but like dehydration and sleep deprivation, too much sugar will wear you down very quickly. Remind yourself that every time you reach for a sugary treat, you are putting your organs to the mighty task of regulating your blood sugar balance, and that too much of that, will lead to extreme fatigue amongst other nasty little side effects. The best way, in my opinion, to enjoy the treats of the season without crashing is to savor small amounts of the special items that you just adore and leave the rest. I read once that after the first few bites, real satisfaction declines rapidly…so the first few bites are the ones to savor and the rest can be left on the plate! Remember too that alcohol acts like sugar in the body as well as refined carbohydrates, so factor that in when calculating your sugar intake….maybe choose between that extra piece of bread or dessert and find balance in each meal.
Tip #4 – Get enough protein. During the times of cocktails and sugary treats, getting adequate protein from good sources will go a long way in keeping you grounded. Every day include pastured eggs, chicken, grass-fed beef, pork, and lamb in your meal planning. Enjoy good quality, preferably unpasteurized cheeses and good quality nuts and seeds too. Eating ample amounts of these proteins will keep you satisfied and energized.
Tip #5 – Keep moving. It’s so easy to let go of our daily exercise program during the holidaze…but if nothing else, get out for a brisk walk and breathe in the fresh air…even if it’s for 10 minutes every day. I often miss my favorite yoga and exercise classes when I’m so busy with Christmas cheer, but I know I can put on my sneakers and get a good walk in and stretch a little if nothing else. I never regret doing it even when I feel I don’t have the time. This is also a good opportunity to take a walk with someone who we’d like to connect with and maybe only see during this season.
Tip #6 – Under spend….need I say more. This is the perfect year to just say no to overspending and to give meaningfully but simply. Nothing will start the new year off better than knowing you stayed within your limits!
Tip #7 – Make time to appreciate. Really and truly stop every single day to hug and appreciate the loving people in your life. This is such a magical time of year that is over before we know it. Take the time to sit and converse and read with your family! Engage in activities together that ignite the spirit of the season and leave a lasting impression. Surrounding ourselves with our friends and family is life giving. This is the way to fill up with goodness which greatly impacts immunity and general health.
Tip #8 – Make food a meaningful focus. Food is such a big part of the season. It’s a perfect opportunity to put into practice the true appreciation of food…where it’s coming from…how it’s being prepared…how it’s being eaten…and how well it can nourish our bodies and our souls when we let it.
Tip #9 – Wash your hands a lot. This might be the simplest and most powerful tip of all!
Tip #10 – Be Moderate. When I think of the holiday season some thoughts that automatically come to mind are “excess” and “overindulge” and “over the top”. Kind of along the same lines as under spending, being moderate means that you allow yourself all of the pleasures of the season…without denying yourself the special treats…cookies, eggnog, whatever your special treats may be…with the key element being to “under indulge”. Try not to think of things as either good or bad but allow yourself to consider trying anything that entices you. It is almost guaranteed that if you enjoy “a little bit of everything, and a lot of nothing”, you will come out of the season having indulged your senses to satisfaction but not be left with any kind of hangover…fatigue, extra pounds etc.
So those are my tips! Joy to you and the world. I will write again in the New Year with lot’s of good topics!
Until next year,
Adrienne McLaughlin, NTP
Classic Health Inc.
To learn more about Registerd Dietitian Consultations at Seattle’s Tummy Temple or to schedule an appointment please call (206)729-6211.