The holiday season is officially upon us and holiday health is top-of-mind for many. My new 6-week holiday program—Your No-Gain Holidays—is off and running with fabulous participants who are already finding new, healthier, less-stressful ways to interact with the holidays. Woo-hoo!
But what about you? If you’re not in that program but would really LOVE some tips on not ending up with four flat tires on your holiday health bus, this love note is for YOU.
Holiday health is a longer conversation (hence the 6-week program), but if you simply practice the following suggestions, you’ll surely find yourself with more HAPPY in your holidays. Ready? Let’s GO!
Food: Top 7 Banks-on-the-River Tips
The holiday season—depending on your traditions, religion, etc.—is roughly 50 days. Out of those 50 days, about 3-5 are actual holidays. Sounds pretty benign.
Yet what typically happens is that we get into this “holiday season” (50 days) mindset. We just frolic through everything that challenges our body (sugar, alcohol, empty carbs, late-night eating, etc.) for 50 days, figuring we’ll dig out after Jan 2. Except that doesn’t actually happen, for most folks. The digging out part.
I’d like to propose a middle way for holiday health. On the actual holidays (3-5 days), eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy yourself without any negative self-talk. Then, on the other 45-47 days, maybe put some banks on the river that look something like this:
- Manage your added sugar intake. Goal is less then 36 grams a day for adults. Be sure to read labels, incorporating serving size notations. Maybe say, “Monday through Thursday are no-sugar days” and then have a few desserts over the weekend.
- Break your overnight fast with Food Sass®, limiting or eliminating empty carbs.
- If your typical overnight fast is 12 hours or less, increase it over time. Maintain a consistent overnight fast of 14-18 hours a night.
- Increase your fiber intake, up to 45 g per day. Foods rich in fiber include avocado, oats, vegetables, nuts and raspberries. You can also take a supplement like THIS. Fiber and healthy fats help us feel full and promote s-l-o-w uptake of any carbs during a meal, promoting blood sugar health.
- Don’t show up to parties hungry. Have a shake or a handful of nuts before you go. The alcohol won’t hit as hard, and you’re less likely to go straight for the empty carbs and fill up on them upon arrival.
Bonus: Maybe bring a healthy, yummy dish to contribute like THIS.
- Drink 64-80 oz. of water a day. More if you consume alcohol and/or caffeine, which are both diuretics (flush water from the body). Bonus: When partaking of cocktails, have a glass of water to start and between each cocktail.
- Eat slowly enough to notice when you’re satisfied. Prevents overeating.
You got this! These are all pretty simple to implement, yet go a long way in supporting your health and wellbeing.
Interpersonal: A mindset to try on
In our first Zoom meeting for Your No-Gain Holidays program, we spent at least half of it talking about challenging extended-family interactions that often come packaged in our holiday experience. And how we might navigate those better. What a juicy holiday health MINDSET interchange we had!
Out of the gate, there’s two key chapters in Wild World, Joyful Heart that can help you with this endeavor:
- The end of chapter 7 that discusses The Ten Healing Practices
- Chapter 10 that explores Mindful Relating
Both quite helpful, if I do say so myself. Just kidding…I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about those two chapters from unbiased people that didn’t write said book!
But let’s say you don’t feel like that much reading. Or that Thanksgiving is like, TOMORROW!…and you’d really appreciate a simple inner approach that can help you navigate Uncle Fred or Aunt Barbie tomorrow. Okay ready?…
Simply meet whatever arises.
Instead of wanting things to be different (which they aren’t). Instead of wanting to change or control the unruly human (which you can’t). Notice what’s unfolding in the same mindset as you’d watch a tree blow in the wind. “Wow. Look at that. Interesting.”
An ugly conversation is sparked during Thanksgiving cocktails? Just sit and meet it. Be present with an open mind and heart. Watch. Watch others in a non-judgemental observer mode, and watch yourself in the same way. Elongate your outbreath, invoking your parasympathetic (chill out) nervous system. (Humming also does this, but that might be a little weird if you’re humming while Aunt Barbie is spouting off about how inferior your children are.)
If we can allow the waves of aversion to wash through us without tightening around them, something kind of magical happens. “It’s not about me.” It almost never is. Don’t take it personally and maybe find one thing about the difficult person/people that you respect/like/appreciate. “Uncle Fred is a pain in my ass and I’m happy I don’t live with him, but he sure knows a lot about football. I love football!”
This all sounds lovely and it is. It’s also pretty darn hard. It’s a practice, for sure…not a state that you “achieve” and then maintain. Yet if we stick with it, some of the air gets taken out of those overfilled tires of angst, resentment, dislike and judgement. And that feels good.
Wishing you and yours mind-body holiday health a lovely start to the holiday season. Remember that good sleep, health-building food and proper hydration go a loooooong way to support our mind-body health (and immunity) during the holidays. You’re worth your own effort!
To your empowered well-being,