The sugar season is here! The many social events from Thanksgiving till the first of year provide connection and celebration, but also bring an array of sugary treats and liquid beverages that can spin us into a downward spiral. Before you nosedive into the eggnog bowl, try some of these helpful tips to help you stay festive and enjoy the holiday 'cheer' without completely sabotaging your health.
1. Power Snack Before the Party
Don’t arrive at a party starving. This is where the train can fly off the rails pretty quick. Before you head out, power snack on a serving of protein, like chicken breast, turkey slices, a couple hard boiled eggs or even beef jerky. Power snacking lets you to show up to the party and still be able to enjoy some of the spoils, but not have your health suffer. Your waistline will thank you!
2. Get Some Rest
While parties and late nights are excellent 'soul food', too many of these can short change us on sleep that is critical for healthy detoxification processes, hormones, and cell regeneration and repair. Seven to eight hours of sleep is ideal for optimal health. When this gets out of reach we can feel less productive, ‘moodier’ and become more susceptible to extra weight gain due to hormone disruption.
3. Buffer the Booze
For many, having a couple of drinks are a big part of holiday festivities, but with so many opportunities to share a glass or three of holiday cheer, the excess can easily impact our immune system, our weight, and our overall health. One strategy is to set mindful intentions for low-risk drinking behaviors. Decide what days you will not drink, how many days a week you will drink, and how many drinks you will have on those days. When you do drink, pace yourself to no more than one standard drink per hour and make every other drink a non-alcoholic one. Pour your drinks into tall, skinny glasses, not the short, wide ones. Studies at Cornell have shown that people are more likely to pour 30% more liquid into squattier vessels.
4. Stay Active
Prioritize your workouts. Research has found that workouts can boost your mood for up to 12 hours! Even short bursts of 10-15 minutes of exercise can have a powerful effect on our waist, mood, and health. The last thing you need is the stress of a “to-do” exercise regime, instead remember that all the holiday running around can add up. Park farther away from your location and walk. The 5minute walks all add up! In addition, that extra time in the fresh air and sunlight stimulates the feel-good hormone serotonin and helps relieve Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which impacts millions of Americans. The rhythm and repetition of walking can also have a tranquillizing effect on your brain and can decrease anxiety and improve sleep.
5. Focus on relationships
There is lots to be said about the health benefits of enjoying this time and not feeling guilty when you do. I'm reminded everyday of how short life really is -- so let's embrace it. Enjoy the time spent with your family and friends, and everyone in your life that you care for. When you share these special moments, treasure them and truly enjoy yourselves. This is what the holidays are all about.
6. Good Food = Good Mood
Certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood. Foods that increase our mood include:
- Fish: salmon, mackerel, ahi, shrimp
- Fresh fruits: bananas, berries
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios
- Veggies: power greens like spinach, kale, lettuce
7. Notice the joy around you!
Don’t stress the small stuff and stop obsessing over doing it all. Keeping your expectations realistic can take the pressure off “tasks” and make them more “fun”. After all- the joy is in the magic of the season. Breathe in the holiday air and Focus your energy on smiling at all the small, special moments!
This article was provided by Jill Whisler, a Rethink Healthy team member, and Registered Dietitian. A gentle reminder that your Wellness Bank expires on the 31stof December. Be sure to spend your money on taking care of YOU! Call 530-587-3769 for more information or to check on your balance.
Try a Festive Mocktail – Cranberry-Pomegranate Ginger Spritzer
Mix together and serve over ice:
- 1 oz. cranberry juice
- 1 oz. pomegranate juice
- 4 oz. ginger beer
- Squeeze of lime