I am completely in favour of enjoying the holidays to the fullest; it's a time for celebration and indulgence. However, I'd like for you to be able to enjoy it with vibrancy and wellness while making the best choices for YOU, so that you may start the new year off feeling as fantastic as you deserve.
Tummies and Food
The holidays basically mean eating. For many of us the entire month is spent in the kitchen baking and roasting delicious things, and the rest spend the time smelling it! In order to prevent bloating, heartburn, overeating, and eating foods that you know make you feel yucky, I have the following ideas for you:
1. Have a small salad or protein snack before going out
In order to curb overeating, have something like a salad or a small handful of nuts. Having protein and fibre in your system prevents blood sugar crashes and therefore eating more than you should at the buffet or from being extra hungry when the meal arrives.
2. Step away from the buffet table
Use a small plate to gather hor d'oeuvres and then find a spot far away from the food table. You are likely to sample more than you need if you hover over the food. Out of sight, out of mind ;)
3. Bring alternatives
Suggest a potluck so that you are sure to find something that you know you can eat happily. I love bringing dishes that contain healthy swaps, and often people are excited to branch out and try new foods. Another thing that gets my allergic family through the season is to bring our own 'safe' foods to pair with whatever is being served. You can always be your own health advocate. Avoiding your triggers makes a big difference to your energy and how you are feeling. Some of my favourites are:
- Kale, beet and goat cheese salad (the kale doesn't wilt like regular lettuce so it's nice for these types of gatherings)
- Mary's crackers or rice crackers
- Butternut squash soup made with coconut milk
- Thornbury gluten free bread
- field green lettuce wrapped in proscuitto
- shrimp ring
The most common concern I hear about over the holidays is the addictive consumption of sweet treats. My first recommendation is to avoid buying the extras like boxes of chocolates, and if you do then choose the smaller size versions instead of value packs or put half in the freezer. For baked goods consider cutting them into mini bites so that you can try more than one type but still keep it to one portion size. Or you can think of it like a restaurant, survey the options and then make one selection (you'd never order four desserts... or would you?!).
5. Arm yourself with support
For those times when you just can't avoid your trigger foods, or you know you will be enjoying Grandma's butter tarts even if they make you feel yucky, I recommend taking digestive enzymes and probiotics to help break those foods down more effectively. You will lessen your symptoms and have a faster recovery time from bloating, tummy aches, fullness, irregular digestion, and heartburn.
6. But first, lemon
If you do nothing else for your digestion and eating habits over the holidays, I would suggest starting the day with lemon water. This will kickstart your digestion and stimulate your liver to detoxify all the extras you've been consuming.
Once in awhile it feels good to throw routines out the window. Just ensure you are doing these 3 things whenever you can.
I enjoy a good Netflix binge at night, but in the daytime I really love winter activities like skating and tobogganing with my kids. Getting some exercise each day will help your digestion, your mood, your energy and will help you connect with your family and friends. Plus, fresh air is a great way to prevent colds and flus.
2. Friend time
Consider organizing a hike, ski day, or hockey with your friends instead of going out for dinner or drinks. Often we crave the togetherness more than the actual event, so you may as well do it over something that's good for you. However, if you do enjoy the actual dinner and drinks, that's ok too - everything in moderation!
3. Sleep as much as you can
I believe that we should honour the darkness of the season and sleep a little bit more in the winter months. Getting adequate sleep is so important for our hormones, our stress levels, and our well-being.
The holidays are a huge trigger for emotional challenges as well. Not only are we stressed out and overwhelmed quite often, but sometimes there are feelings that come up around family, or we are thinking of loved ones who are no longer with us. I always recommend speaking to a therapist to work through these difficult emotions and build a toolbox of strategies for these situations. In the meantime, you can think about this:
1. Prioritize and think about what's important to you - as much as possible try to avoid doing things because you "should" and develop a way of confidently saying "no" to events or situations that don't match with what's important to you.
2. Think about what you would like to do differently in 2018 and make a commitment to it (it might be something small like walking 15 minutes every day). Keep a log or diary to stay on track and measure your progress. This is different from a New Year's Resolution because the focus is on moving forward, and gives you a why. What I mean is that it is easier to achieve a goal when you connect it with a reason for doing it.
3. Break emotional ties to food by rewarding yourself with other things like a yoga class, a coffee date, a pedicure, a sauna, or a massage.
4. Tomorrow is a new day. Just because you had one too many scoops of mashed potatoes or didn't get to say what you wanted to your spouse, doesn't mean that you can't try again tomorrow. No more guilt, it's still worthwhile, you are worthwhile, move on, try again.
I wish you the best finish to this year and a rewarding journey into 2018!