Can you believe that 2015 is just about to wind down and an entirely new year is almost upon us? I know it's a cliché -- but it's quite crazy how fast time goes.
I absolutely love this time of year. Not only for all of the holiday festivities, but also as a time to reevaluate the previous year (good and bad), to plan ahead and to make new goals for all aspects of life going forward. I'm a big fan of setting our goals and aspirations ahead of us to strive for, and no better time to start a fresh slate than January 1. But before we start planning our life for 2016 -- there's still a number of high quality days left in the 2015 calendar year to maximize and enjoy.
Besides spending lots of quality time with family and friends, there is no question that my next favourite thing about the holidays are the fantastic array of treats (yes, I too am human!). And as we all know, these treats are everywhere. However, before you aim your nosedive directly into the eggnog bowl, or begin firing Ferrero Rocher's into your mouth (three at a time), keeping a few helpful tips in mind will allow you to remain festive and enjoy the holiday 'cheer' without completely sabotaging your health.
1. Power Snack Before The Party
When most of us arrive at a party we are starving. This is where the train can fly off the rails pretty quick -- and here's how to stop that. Before you head out, always power snack on a few whole, non-processed foods. Foods like veggie sticks, chicken breast, hummus, etc. may not sound as exciting as what awaits you at the party; however they are highly nutritious foods that are high in fibre and healthy fats. These will help satiate your cells before you get to the party acting as a governor switch on your cravings, thus keeping it in check.
These foods will send a signal of fullness that will dampen any big spikes in your blood sugar levels from eating holiday treats, which create more cravings going forward if not balanced. Power snacking will allow you to show up to the party and still be able to enjoy some of the spoils, but not have your health suffer. Not only will your waistline thank you, but you will also be less susceptible to colds and flus.
2. Get Some Rest
For many of us, it may seem as though once December arrives, we have entered an endurance event of sort. Copious parties, events and social activities with friends and family are amazing, but a big barrage of these all at once can drain us. While parties and late nights are excellent 'soul food', too many of these in a short period of time can short change us or sleep that is critical for our detoxification processes to engage, our hormones to recover, and our cells to regenerate and repair. Seven to eight hours of sleep is ideal for optimal health, however when this gets out of reach we often feel less productive, more 'moody' and become more susceptible to getting sick from the latest bug that is going around.
If you are burning the wick at both ends, don't be afraid to hit a power-nap midday when possible. Getting good quality sleep is also important. If you are someone who finds it hard to fall asleep or wake up a bunch throughout the night give Magnesium Glycinate a go. This mineral is easily depleted from stress, and when consuming high amounts of alcohol. It is nature's chill pill, and will help many keep their sleep quality at a high level.
3. Buffer The Booze
I have the utmost respect anyone who does not drink alcohol (for any reason), thus this will not apply to you. However, for many of us having a couple of drinks are often a big part of holiday festivities this time of year. Studies have shown that having some alcohol in moderation can be well tolerated, and even be beneficial to our health in some capacities. As we know, this is often a season of excess, thus hangovers can become a rite of passage. If you tend to imbibe more than you should keep your liver in good shape will be top priority. Supplements such as milk thistle, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C and glutathione are all powerful nutrients to help support and heal a liver that has had a fantastic holiday. Don't forget that morning glass of lemon water as well!
4. Stay Active
As most of us will admit, it's hard enough to exercise the rest of the year, but add holidays to the mix and many of us find exercise becomes less of a priority as to-do lists grow longer and longer. The last thing you want is more stress and, for many of us, trying to keep to our usual workout program does just that. At the same time, staying active in some way will give you energy, reduce stress and tension and, of course, help mitigate some of the extra calories you may be eating with said treats (see above).
If you can hit the gym during this time -- you are amazing, and keep it up! For most of us keeping on our regular workout routine is a bit of a stretch, thus even getting out for a solid stroll (between eggnogs) is much more beneficial than missing out on activity altogether.
5. Enjoy The Time With Family And Friends
While much of this blog is based on tips to help you stay healthy and 'minimize the damage' of the plethora of holiday spoils, there is lots to be said about the health benefits of also purely 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.
Dr, John Dempster, ND
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