Stay on Track With Your Health During the Holidays!
The winter holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to be with family, reflect on the previous year and reaffirm your goals for the coming year. The holidays are also difficult for a lot of people, for many reasons. For your health, it may be challenging to stick to dietary and exercise goals, and there can be significant emotional strain during this time of year too.
Here's my list of the top 5 health challenges during the holidays and how to stay on track!
A lot of us have over-full calendars this time of year. Some people are filled-up by being around people and some people are drained, and some people can switch between these two. Be true to yourself and know which you are! If an overfull social calendar causes you stress this can have effects on your health.
- Just say no to some things. Stay home, make a nice cup of tea and relax!
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed by crowds, either reassess if you will go to functions with a lot of people or go and listen internally to when you’ve had enough.
- Practice de-stressing strategies like breathing exercises, journaling, and yoga to keep you healthy and happy this holiday season!
If you follow a specific diet, then the holidays can be a real challenge. Many people have food intolerances and allergies that they must avoid and many foods have been so poisoned or GMO’d or hybridized that they aren’t fit for human consumption. A good example of this is wheat which went from it’s original 16 chromosomes to over 50 chromosomes! And it’s regularly sprayed with glyphosate, Monsanto’s Roundup is a glyphosate based product. This chemical is a known carcinogen and has developmental and reproductive effects among others. These both make wheat that is not organic and a heritage grain difficult to digest. Another food for thought with wheat is that we often don’t ferment breads like we did in the past. A quick yeast, which most commercial and some homemade breads use, doesn’t cut it! The fermentation process helps to break down sugars like gluten in the bread, making it easier for us to digest.
- Try eating a light meal before you go to food centered events to ensure you won’t be tempted by things you shouldn’t be eating.
- If you’re going to a dinner call the host ahead of time and ask if you can bring something that is friendly to your particular diet.
- If you eat gluten, choose sourdough breads made with organic heritage grain flours when you do eat wheat!
With the change in weather in many areas that make getting outside more difficult, the decrease in daylight in the northern latitudes, and the increase in social engagements, keeping up with your Fall and Summer exercise routine can be tough! Keep with it, you will feel so much better.
- Brave the weather! Bundle up and throw on that rain coat and get out for a walk, jog or run (be careful with ice).
- If you are close to the mountains and snow, try snow sports like snow shoeing, cross country skiing and downhill skiing and snowboarding.
- Have one or two friends you can call to motivate each other to exercise and meet up to get those work-outs in!
- Join a gym for the winter. I love having access to a sauna, so this makes sense for me for that reason alone!
- There are so many online resources for workout and yoga videos. Some of my favorites are FitnessBlender.com, YogaGlo.com, 30 day shred on YouTube, and Johnson&Johnson's 7 minute workout app.
Alcohol tends to be prevalent at holiday celebrations and you may feel left out if you’re avoiding it. Alcohol depletes key nutrients like many B vitamins including folate, and the mineral zinc, and can impair fertility and lead to many diseases. Many people doing a detox will avoid alcohol for this reason. Drinking moderately to heavily over a long period of time cause serious health and psycho-social issues! However, research has shown that drinking a low amount can have protective effects. Know your limits! If you believe a loved one has a drinking issue there are many resources including Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon.
- Try making a fun alcohol-free cocktail or tea to have and share. Or just go with water!
With the business of this time of year sleep can go by the way-side. Sleep is so important and you will feel a whole lot better doing this one thing! You will keep your sanity, keep stress and anxiety down, and keep your immunity up.
Sleep deprivation, much of it self-induced, is the most common form of sleep disorder in the US. When you are sleep deprived, your overall health suffers and here are some of the ways: memory and creative thinking are impaired; irritability increases and empathy decreases; insulin control is disordered leading to blood sugar dysregulation; inflammation in the body increases, which leads to a host of cellular processes being interfered with and can cause many health issues; risk of accidents increases as motor performance decreases.
- Embrace the darkness of this time of year and go to bed earlier!
- My other big tips are to cut out late night screen time (shows, movies, phone, news, video games, etc). If you absolutely have to use a screen turn on night-shift to cut down on blue light exposure.
- Try using low soft lighting within an hour of your bedtime as the blue lights affect the amount of melatonin your body makes!