‘Tis the season to get together with loved ones, eat, drink, and be merry! Unfortunately the holiday season also commonly includes a long to do list: planning menus, fighting the frantic store crowds, spending hours in the kitchen, overeating processed, “traditional”, holiday foods, over celebrating (you know who you are ; ), hunting for the perfect gifts, making room for house guests, and making it all look effortless with a smile on your face.
During a time when we are also more susceptible to developing a cold, the flu, or worse doesn’t it make sense that we would look for ways to reduce our stress rather than add to it?
Here are our top 10 tips for retaining your health, as well as your sanity, during this joyous (yet crazy) time.
- Don’t let stress get you down!
Make lists, delegate, plan ahead, get a massage… This is a time to enjoy, not to get so worked up that you fall apart when it’s over. Nervine & relaxant herbs like chamomile, passionflower, skullcap, and kava can be your best friends. Use, as needed, in tea or liquid tincture form for best results.
- Get moving!
This is not a time to let exercise go by the wayside. Not only will it help to reduce stress, but it will help keep some of those extra indulgences from taking residence on your body.
- Don’t share the sweet stuff.
I know it might be “traditional” to make holiday sweets to share with friends and family, but you can start a new tradition. Make something like homemade salad dressing, flavored vinegars, bone broth, or canned vegetables from your garden. Maybe it’s not food at all but something like photos, music, or your favorite book of the year that you want to share. Since feeling deprived isn’t healthy either go ahead and make one batch of your favorite cookies for nostalgia’s sake ; )
- Plan ahead.
One of the hardest parts of sticking to a healthy eating habits during the holidays are the gatherings, amirite!?! Instead of grazing the buffet table all evening, combining foods that were never meant to be eaten together, bring something healthy to share: a raw veggie platter and hummus, roasted vegetables drizzled with olive oil, a green salad… At least you’ll have something to fall back on when the only other choices are chips and salsa, cocktail wieners, or sugar cookies shaped like reindeer.
- Don’t create “famine” before the feast.
Many people try and save themselves for “the holiday meal” by practically fasting all day prior. This causes their blood sugar to plummet, driving them to over eat during the meal. This then spikes blood sugar, causing the post meal coma, and then drops blood sugar drastically inspiring massive dessert and coffee cravings! It’s this roller coaster that can contribute to fatigue, mood swings, a depressed immune system, and added pounds! Pace yourself, eat regularly throughout the day, and go easy. Holiday leftovers are awesome!
- Trade out some of the holiday meal standards for healthier options.
- Organic, free-range turkey vs spiral cut honey ham
- Quinoa salad vs white bread stuffing
- Baked sweet potatoes topped with plain yogurt and cinnamon vs candied sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows (Who ever thought of that anyway?)
- Fresh, steamed green beans topped with organic butter, sea salt, and slivered almonds vs green bean casserole topped with fried onions and Campbell’s soup (You know the one.)
- Baked beets instead of the canned cranberry log (How is that considered food?)
- Chard, kale, or collard greens sautéed in organic butter with caramelized onions vs frozen creamed spinach
- Real, traditional, homemade gravy made with the mineral rich giblets vs canned gravy (Tastes so much better and is nutrient dense to boot!)
- Plenty of help in the kitchen vs trying to do it by yourself (No need to be the holiday superwoman ; )
- Prioritize your carbs.
It’s not necessary to have mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (with marshmallows), bread, and cooked carrots (as the token vegetable) all in the same meal. No wonder your guests are yawning after the meal. (No, it’s not your jokes.) Prioritize a couple key carbohydrate sources.
- Include more veggies.
Simply put: it’s OK to have cooked greens and roasted beets and green beans.
- Get them to move!
Incorporate physical activity into a holiday gathering. Go for a walk or a hike, throw the ball around, or invent some kind of holiday relay races. Whatever it takes to get them off the couch. A family who is active together… Well, they’re just healthier. (I couldn’t think of something that rhymed.)
- Remember to have fun!
Isn’t this the reason that everyone got together in the first place? Make the most of it!
We hope that you have a happy, healthy holiday season! Feel free to reach out if you feel some support would make a world of difference in making positive, sustainable changes in your health : )
China Rose Zamora is a functional nutritional therapist, clinical herbalist, & yoga teacher who has worked in the holistic health field since 1998 and has proudly served her community as China Rose Wellness since 2009. When she’s not coaching women to rise to their health potential, practicing herbal alchemy, traveling the country via mobile tiny house teaching inspirational workshops to demystify wellness, or co-facilitating transformational retreats with AJ, her-eco warrior partner in adventure, you can find her meandering on the nearest hiking trail or jammin’ at a local, live music venue. China Rose is a firm believer that wellness encompasses everything that nourishes us, body & soul!
* The information provided is not intended to take the place of personalized advice from a healthcare practitioner. Readers with preexisting health conditions or on pharmaceutical medications are encouraged to consult with a practitioner before taking any nutritional supplements or medicinal herbs.