The holiday season is one of my favourite times of the year. When I think of the upcoming holidays words like “Family”, “Fun”, “Love”, “Laughter” and “Food” come to mind; it’s a special time of the year that just makes me smile!
For many people, though, the Holiday’s are more associated with feelings of overwhelm, stress, anxiety, exhaustion and that inevitable weight gain from overindulgence.
The great news is that there are some simple tips and strategies we can all incorporate this Holiday Season to help ensure we experience more of the positive feelings and less of the negative.
FAMILY, FUN AND LAUGHTER:
When it comes to our family time together this Holiday Season, keep it simple.
I know that we all tend to scurry around the house trying to make everything “picture perfect”; the hours spent decorating, cleaning, cooking and cleaning again can leave us stressed and exhausted before the festivities even begin. So give yourself a little break this year, trust me friends and family will have just as great of a time even if the house is a little less then “picture perfect”.
Of course cleanliness is important but don’t go to extremes, trust me no one will notice if you haven’t scrubbed, vacuumed and dusted every inch of the house three times and no one’s holiday’s will be ruined from a lack of “picture perfect” decorations and table settings… give yourself more “you” time this year and you’ll discover that the FUN and LAUGHTER will outweigh the STRESS and EXHAUSTION.
Ample, good quality sleep is essential for our optimal health and wellness; we need it in order to help our body detoxify, rejuvenate and repair itself. When our sleep pattern is poor, less then 7 hours of good quality sleep each night, our mood is negatively affected, we tend to be less active and we will often reach for those high sugar options for that “quick burst” of needed energy.
Keep a few of the following tips in mind to help ensure you are getting adequate, good quality sleep:
Start off by establishing a bedtime that will allow you to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night; for example if you are aiming for 8 hours of sleep and have to be up by 6:00am, plan to be ready for sleep at 10:00pm
Eliminate or greatly reduce your caffeine and alcohol consumption, especially after 5:00pm (these will increase urination and will also lead to restless sleep)
Turn off electronic devices 1-2 hours prior to bedtime and avoid having a television in the bedroom
Avoid eating within 3 hours of bedtime
Make your bedroom a relaxing retreat, choose a paint color that you find calming, set the room at a comfortable room temperature and ensure that it is dark enough to promote good sleep
Use some relaxation methods prior to bed, a soothing bath, listening to soft music, using relaxing breathing techniques or meditation, yoga, tai chi, reading and writing down your worries and “to do” list can all help to promote better quality sleep
When it comes to planning and preparing our holiday menu keep a few of these tips in mind:
Purchase a fresh, free range turkey from a local farmer in order to avoid the hormones and antibiotics often provided to commercially raised turkeys
Choose local and in-season fresh vegetables in order to avoid the pesticides, herbicides and resultant diminished nutrient quality of store bought/non-local items. Purchasing in-season will help to ensure that our products are not only fresh (quick turnover from the garden to the table) but that they are providing our body with what it needs most for the particular season. In the winter months we want more of the hearty, warming root vegetables that require more cooking time; they will provide us with a nutrient dense, warming meal for those cold winter days.
Keep the “goodies” to a minimum; choose more fruits, vegetables and healthy alternatives instead of the pastries, candies and chocolates. Serve healthy dips made with yogurt and your favourite fresh herbs and spices, hummus or bean dips, cookies made with almond, coconut or whole wheat flours with sugar alternatives such as honey or maple syrup. If you just can’t make it through the holiday’s without indulging in some chocolate, choose dark chocolate (organic if possible) instead and just remember…. everything in moderation
Keep your serving sizes to healthy proportions, don’t fill your plate to the brim, avoid second helpings and eat only until you feel that “slightly full” sensation. Keep in mind that plate sizes have increased over the years so avoid the temptation to fill that plate up, when preparing your plate the larger portion should consist of fresh vegetables and leafy greens.
In order to ward off dehydration it is best to provide our body with adequate amounts of good quality drinking water. Although our daily requirements may be influenced by age, weight, activity level, typical dietary choices and the climate we reside in, a general guideline is to aim for eight 8oz glasses of good quality drinking water per day.
There is a simple way that you can determine if your water intake needs to be adjusted, “the pee test”, by paying attention to your urine color you can ensure that your individual intake needs are being met. Your urine should be light in color with just a very slight yellowish tinge to it, if it is darker in color this indicates that you are dehydrated and in need of adjusting your water intake.
You should also pay attention to the following signs of dehydration:
Tired or sleepy
Decreased urine output
Urine is low in volume and more yellowish in color
And remember to eat for the Season to help make sure that you are choosing food items that are fresh, local and that you are giving your body what it needs, click here for more seasonal eating information