Healthy, Happy Holidays

The holiday season is upon us.   Filled with excitement, fun, family, friends and delicious foods.  But sometimes also stress and overindulgence. Here are some pointers for enjoying a healthy holiday season.

Enjoy, but keep the overall balance.  Diet has a tremendous impact on health.  The way we eat has significant impacts on how we feel now and our risk for illness in the future.  However, food plays a significant role in many traditions and celebrations.  My advice to patients is to give yourself the opportunity to enjoy some of those special meals while still maintaining the overall balance as much as possible.  Have the mashed potatoes and gravy but include some vegetables too.  And if you know there will be a special dinner, try to stick to your normal breakfast and lunch and get back to your normal diet the next day.  If food sensitivities are a challenge for you there are lots of great recipes online to help you make treats that you’ll feel good eating (see my gingerbread recipe in the previous post!)

Secondly, take time to pause and soak it all in.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season.  See if you can find the occasional 30 seconds to pause for some deep breaths while last-minute shopping or completing preparations.  This helps us to step out of autopilot and interrupts the stress response.  And during those special holiday moments – gathering around the table with family or watching others open gifts – see if you can bring your full attention to the present moment.  Our minds are likely to wander to the things we need to do or reflecting on things that have happened, but see if you can gently guide it back to observing the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of our present holiday experiences.  This gives us the opportunity to fully enjoy those special moments.  If these exercises have you interested, learn more about mindfulness. 

The holidays can be a wonderful time of year.  Give yourself the chance to enjoy and be sure to pause and soak it all in. Happy and Healthy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

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