Your Wellness Guide to Stay Sane and Healthy This Holiday Season
Life is pretty funny. I have been writing this Healthy Holidays guide and I got a sick in the middle of it - life wanted me to TRULY practice what I’m teaching!
In this guide I’m going to fill you in on all of my favorite ways to be more calm, peaceful, and healthy over the holidays.
We’ll cover 3 topics:
- healthy eating guidelines for holiday parties
- self care practices
First, I need to go over the importance of seasons and why being in tune with the seasons is so important to your health.
Our bodies are constantly trying to be in a state of balance and harmony. When the seasons and weather change, we tend to crave food and activities to balance ourselves energetically and by temperature. For example, in the summer we crave cooling foods like smoothies and raw, cooling fruits and veggies. In the winter we crave warming, grounding foods like soups, stews, meats and root vegetables. We also crave typical holiday foods like turkey, stuffing, and pies. These are examples of our bodies communicating what it needs to be balanced. There is nothing wrong with cravings, we must listen to them and honor our bodies with what they need.
I’m all about preventative health. This means ensuring you have a strong, healthy immune system so you don't get sick in the first place. Instead of slacking on taking care of your body and searching for last minute band-aid solutions (i.e., pain relievers, over the counter drugs), living a balanced lifestyle day in and day out will provide you with he solid foundation so you stay healthy through the tough times.
- GUT HEALTH: Did you know that 70-80% of your immune tissue is located in your digestive system? Our gut is the first entry way of exposure to pathogens (diseases) and your gut is the first place it attacks. Billions of bacteria are located in your gut and are how your body absorbs nutrients. If this lining of your intestinal wall is healthy, you’re able to absorb nutrients more efficiently, therefore creating a stronger, healthier gut. Your gut feeds off of what you eat. Too much “bad” growth of bacteria weakens the immune system, causing poor health, sickness, and other problems. When you’re feeding your gut with probiotic rich foods, you’ll have a stronger immune system. Two ways to do this:
1. Probiotic Supplements
2. Fermented Foods. Examples: yogurt, kefir, Kombucha, fermented pickles, sauerkraut, dark chocolate and cacao, miso, tempeh, grains like sourdough, kimchi, pickled ginger. The key is variety!
- VITAMIN C + NUTRIENTS: greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc.) fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, sage), spices (ginger, turmeric, cayenne), lemon, lime, tangerines, oranges, garlic, root veggies. Incorporate these into your diet and you’ll be golden.
- STRESS - see self care tips below
- SLEEP - 7-8 hours or more depending on your lifestyle and what your body needs
- EXERCISE - find movement that is FUN and makes you sweaty!
- HYGIENE: wash your hands all the time, sanitary wipes on public handles, hand sanitizer.
SOS: What to do when you’re actually sick, or feel like you might be getting sick? Here are my quick emergency tips:
Soup, bone broths
Spices and roots- cayenne, ginger, turmeric
Oil of Oregano
Lots of water
Hot showers, baths
Aromatherapy - tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, rosemary, lavender, pine
NAVIGATE HOLIDAY PARTIES LIKE A PRO
- Prep. Before parties and holiday dinners, I always check in with myself and eat a healthy snack before hand, like an apple with some nuts, maybe some tea, and drink lots and lots of water. I make sure I’m not ravenously hungry when I show up. This will prevent overeating at the party!
- Plating. Always fill 1/2 of your plate with vegetables. No, this doesn’t mean all of the green bean casserole (but please, if you want some, eat some!!!). Instead, choose the healthy options: salads, veggie sticks (minimal or no ranch/sour cream dip) and eat these first. By eating your veggies first, you’ll fill up faster and eat less of the decadent stuff.
- Protein. Make sure you get enough protein. Yes, eat the turkey, ham, beef, but check in with your body and see what it wants. This will help you feel fuller and more satisfied at the end of your meal, not stuffed. Remember what being too full feels like. Honor your body with just enough to satisfy you.
- Pleasure. Don’t deprive yourself. Choose 1-2 of your absolute favorite dishes and serve yourself a small portion size (mine is stuffing and pie). My only rule about eating the decadent food that you must ENJOY it. Eat slowly. Be mindful. Savor it. Eat with gusto, joy, and love :) Savor your food so much that you don’t want to go back for seconds!
- Party time. Please, by all means, have a drink or two. The most important part of drinking is to stay hydrated. For every glass of alcohol, have a large glass of water (put water in your glass and nobody will know it’s water!) However, before you drink, consider that a glass of red wine (5 oz.) has 125 calories. A glass of champagne (4 oz.) is 90 calories. I’m not telling you to count calories, but know that liquids can really add up. Alcohol can also push you over that tipping point to indulge more than you thought you would…AKA your appetite increases, AKA, drunchies. If you’re going to have a drink or two, I love to make little low calorie and delicious cocktails that limit your alcohol intake and are actually healthy! Here are some ideas:
- White wine + Kombucha + blackberries/raspberries
- Beer + Kombucha
- Gin + Lime + Sparkling water (la croix is delish!) + a touch of maple or honey
- Champagne + Juice (like Pomegranate, Orange, make sure its a small portion for less sugar)
#1 MOST IMPORTANT PART: SELF CARE
fact: “Stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease.” - The American Institute of Stress
I always tell my clients that taking care of yourself is #1 priority. It’s like the oxygen mask rule - you can’t help others until you help yourself first.
BUT - the moment self-care becomes a chore, it kind of defeats the whole purpose. Self-care is about letting go, surrendering, relaxing, and releasing every single bit of stress out of your life. It should be something you look forward to!
That being said, taking care of yourself will look different to each person. Everybody is different and leads completely different lives, has different bodies and therefore requires different forms of self-care. It’s up to you to figure out what works best for you. Taking care of yourself means not only on a physical level, but also emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.
Pause right here. Put your hand on your belly, take a big, deep belly breath, and release. Let go. Check in with your body - is there anything going on right now that is calling to you? Maybe your shoulders are tight. Maybe you feel really overwhelmed at home right now with the holiday stress upon us. Maybe you’re worried about money and how you’re going to pay your bills this month. Just listen to what’s going on inside and become aware, without judgement. What do you need to do to take care of yourself?
Being gentle, kind, and loving toward yourself and exactly where you are, your current situation is key, and we need to honor this. Often times we rush out of the house without breakfast, chug some coffee, and struggle through our day between all of the “stuff” that we need to get done. What could make this easier? That’s right. Put your oxygen mask on first.
Easy ways to cultivate more self-care in your life:
- Nourish your body from the inside-out. Listen to what foods you want to eat. It’s colder, so usually that means more soups, cooked veggies, healthy fats, warming spices, teas, and comfort foods. If you’re craving an unhealthy comfort food, try to find a healthier alternative.
- Bubble baths. Water is one of the ultimate healing modalities we have. Cleansing and detoxifying, it can quite literally wash away stress and unnecessary worries we may be holding onto. Schedule out a time for yourself to take a hot bath, jacuzzi, or even a shower. If you schedule an appointment with a Spa, you’re more likely to go - saunas, steam rooms, and hot springs are also great. When you’re taking a bath, make it a lovely experience by using calming essential oils (like lavender and rose) light some candles, and put on some relaxing music.
- Pamper yo-self. Mani-pedis, spa days, facials, haircuts, and massages. Get your hair or makeup done! (Save some extra $$ and have a talented friend help you out, and decrease your stress for getting ready for your next holiday party). Be a queen for a day!
- Breathe. Take a breathwork class or a yoga class.
- Sweat. Be gentle with yourself and listen to what your body needs. Maybe it’s hot yoga, a long run, or simply walking your dog. Taking the time to detox your body and mentally stimulate will give you more energy and clarity to handle the holiday stress. This also helps boost your immune system.
- Light some candles and journal. Let out your emotions. Get inspired, create a Pinterest vision board. Talk with friends and family about your dreams and ideas and desires!
- REST. During the holidays, we are in the go-go-go mode, and we need to just stop and relax for a second. This might mean making your favorite cup of tea, curling up with a good book, snuggling with your dog, watching a movie, ordering takeout (with extra veggies!)…just doing nothing!
- Sleep.Not to be confused with Rest. Sleep is imperative to self care. See Ariana Huffington’s position on why sleep is so crucial to success, health, and her business.This is a no brainer.
- Get offline. I love unplugging from my phone, computer, and TV and letting my eyes rest from the blue-light and also from the energy invested in social media and communication. We need a break every once in a while. Try to get your family and friends to join! This surprisingly helps you get more focus, grounded, and recalibrated so you can focus more on yourself and honor your body and where you are at right now. Set some boundaries. Don’t look at your email or social media first thing in the morning or right before you sleep. Maybe it’s you set the boundary from 7pm-7am you’re not on your phone or laptop. Instead, take this time that you’re awake to mediate, be with loved ones, workout, get inspired (books, audio books).
- Laugh! Funny Youtube videos, a silly movie, being around funny people…just being goofy with friends and family, playing games…these are all ways to incorporate and cultivate more happiness and laughs into your life! This is crucial to our health, yet many people overlook it and wonder why they’re so dang stressed out all the time. “A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.” - helpguide.org, “Laughter Is The Best Medicine”
What are some ways that you like to take care of yourself?
What are 1-2 acts of self-care that you are committing to this week? Schedule them into your calendar now.