Now we all know how difficult it can be to keep our health goals during the holiday season. There are so many parties to attend or host, shopping to do, decorations to hang, the list seems endless. For many, the first thing to go is remembering to eat healthy and exercise. So here are a few suggestions to make health more a part of your holiday season.
1. 30 seconds of squats!
- That’s right, just 30 seconds of squats is enough to activate glucose receptors in your quad muscles, which can significantly impact your blood sugar levels in a positive way. Doing this before any meal, can really help improve how your body utilizes glucose.
2. Parking the car further away from the store
- I realize this is nothing new to most people, but if you feel strapped for time and you’re already not keeping with your usual exercise regime (or you have not established one yet) then building in that little extra distance can help keep you active during this busy season without setting aside a designated ½ hour or more on top of your to do list.
3. Making creative healthy treats
- The holidays are filled with all kinds of treats and goodies that are all too tempting to pass on all of them. So why not help yourself and your dinner guests by putting out some healthier options for treats. For example there are lots of great recipes for vegan and raw desserts that often use less sugar or no sugar and taste just as good as the sugar filled original. One of my favourite desserts is Avocado chocolate pudding.
Recipe for Avocado Chocolate Pudding
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup agave syrup, maple syrup, or honey (or any combination thereof)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Feel free to play around with the recipe. For example, if you like a little extra spice then add a small amount of cayenne pepper.
4. Being mindful when eating
- With so many parties and opportunities to eat and overeat during the holiday season it is no wonder most people gain a few extra pounds. Instead of pilling your plate really high and then talking distractedly to your friends and family, try taking a little less food and being a little more present and aware as you eat. This can help reduce mindless consumption of calories, and thus reduce your concern about extra pounds gained in January when you return to the gym.
5. Take a meditation break
- The benefits are so numerous now for reducing stress and research is really showing the power of meditation to do just that. So if stress is threatening to overwhelm you try taking a 5-10 min meditation break, and if even that much time seems too daunting then just take 10 deep breaths. All this will help lower your blood pressure, induce calm, and improve immune function.
Lastly, just have a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.
Are You Feeling Anxious or Worried?
10 Ways to Get rid of Worry!
1. Eat Real, Whole Food
- Eating like your grandparents used to eat instead of consuming highly processed foods that are low in nutrition value. This kind of eating provides essential nutrients for building neurotransmitters (eg. GABA) essential for calming the brain and body
2. Eat Breakfast
- Including protein (eggs, meat, fish, nuts/nut butters) helps keep blood sugar levels at a more steady level throughout the day, which can reduce feeling anxious and stressed
3. Eat 3 meals a day, with 2 healthy snacks
- Helps keep blood sugar levels even when you eat regularly to maintain levels before they drop. Healthy Snack Ideas: boiled egg, veggies and hummus, fruit with nut butter, leftovers (a drumstick or ¼ size portion) or nuts/seeds. Traveling, seeds and nuts are easy to pack and can make you feel more satisfied while helping maintain blood sugar levels and mood. Pumpkin seeds for example give you tryptophan and zinc, which both help with mood and anxiety.
4. Rethink Coffee
- This is especially important if coffee makes you more anxious and affects your sleep. Perhaps a nice herbal or non-caffeinated tea would be a better choice. Chamomile can be nice and calming, or Rooibos is rich in antioxidants.
5. Consider your Gluten Intake
- Some people find that gluten has an effect on their energy and mood. Why not try a little two-week experiment where you eliminate gluten, then add it back in and see if gluten has an impact on your mood.
6. Get outside and do some exercise!
- Exercise on its own can elevate serotonin levels, which is a key player in your mood (making you feel less sad or worried). Getting outside to exercise can really help compound the benefits as research is showing many beneficial effects on the brain and body in general by spending some time in nature.
7. Enjoy Yoga and/or Meditation Regularly
- yoga, tai chi and meditation/visualization can have a dramatic effect on GABA levels (calming neurotransmitter). More GABA can help you feel less overwhelmed.
8. Good vitamin boost!
- A good quality multivitamin, with B vitamins and essential amino acids (especially tryptophan or tyrosine) can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. Make sure you consult with your health care provider before adding or changing your current regimen.
9. Take some down time
- Taking some time for yourself to relax and recharge is very important for controlling stress and anxiety. Learn to say no when you need to and make taking care of yourself a priority.
10. Make and Keep a Schedule
- A lot of people fret and stress about the long list of ‘to dos’. Take some time to develop a schedule, either at the beginning or end of each day and be realistic about what can be accomplished in that day then focus on accomplishing one task at a time and be proud of your accomplishments for that day.
I am a Naturopathic Doctor and Doula providing care in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. I have a passion for helping people with their health issues and improving the birth experience for Moms, and their babies. I also have a life long love affair with soccer, curling, and the alto saxophone.