Throughout the year we get to participate in various holidays and festivities associated with them. As fun and enjoyable as these times can be, all too often we have celebrated the best of times in the most destructive of ways, where our health and wellbeing is concerned. In this article, I will share with you practical tips for what you can do to make the holidays times that honor, respect, and nurture your wellbeing, while you have fun.
Depending on which country you live in, there are many beautiful holidays that celebrate various aspects of our culture, history, seasonal, or personal lives. While these can be some of the most beautiful and cherished times in our lives, they can also unfortunately be some of the unhealthiest.
As fun and exciting as holiday times can be, we just have to remember that being healthy and maintaining optimal health does not take time-outs. Being healthy also does not mean that we do not enjoy delicious foods, specialty meals, or unique dishes. We can treat our body and mind, while we celebrate with others and treat our entire being.
Don’t Forget What You Already Know
If you have been serious about your health up to this point, think about how much you have accomplished and how far you have come thus far. Most of us spend the better part of the year getting healthy, whether that means eating better or losing weight and then come the holidays and for so many of us, all of the work and progress we have put in goes out the window.
Remember that there are no rules that say that during the holidays we MUST eat more, or that we MUST eat sweets and chocolates or that we MUST drink alcohol. These are simply emotionally and societally driven responses that too many in our society have unfortunately accepted as normal and now promote as if they were something good to be proud of.
But how can we be proud of over-eating and putting tremendous stress on not just our digestive system, but our body as a whole? How can we be proud of eating lots of sweets and giving our pancreas, liver and kidneys a run for their money to work harder than ever to try to keep our body as balanced as possible for normal functioning. And how can we be proud of drinking alcohol in any amounts, but especially excessive ones where aside from the extreme stress we put on our liver, kidneys and brain, we deplete our nutrient levels and render our immune system almost helpless?
These are hard questions that some never ask themselves or consider consciously, but others who are at least somewhat health conscious do, most of the year.
Hence do not be tempted to throw it all away, whether swayed by “family/peer pressure” or thinking that this is the normal thing to do. You know what you know about your body and health, and the holidays should not be the time to casually forget that.
Optimal health, where nothing goes wrong with our bodies and we get to live out our lives in perfect health is not only attainable and realistic, but also our birthright. Many people do not believe it, simply because they have bought into society’s paradigms of you grow old, you age, you have health problems and that’s it.
Hence this holiday season if you are serious about your health, remember everything you already know about the foods our bodies want and those our bodies do not want in any amounts. You can have fantastic health and be free of colds and flus this season as well as avoid cancers, heart disease and diabetes for the future, just to name a few. But you have to be consistent in how well you treat your body ALL YEAR, not some days or most days, but ALL days.
Tips For Having A Healthy Holiday Season
You know it never ceases to amaze me when people get some of the minor, common things like the cold, flu, strep throat or indigestion, and they complain about how bad they feel, etc., and then you tell them, how the cure and prevention is in what they eat and that is where the conversation ends.
It is like we would rather suffer through sicknesses than change our ways. I have to tell you this boggles my mind. Is change that hard for us? With the reward of perfect health on the other side, one would think this would be an easy decision to make, and yet for so many it isn’t.
Hence I hope so much that my words may touch some of you who read this to hopefully not fall prey to some of the extremely health-damaging things that are done so often during the holidays. We are a generation of more health conscious individuals today and there are better ways.
So here are 5 of the most important tips, for keeping your body in a healthy state and having a healthy holiday season:
1. Be Conscious of Your Portion Sizes
In other words – do not overeat! We are so tempted to do this especially when at someone else’s house, as if “free” food all of a sudden means let’s pack into our body as much as we can. But this is so not how our bodies work. For optimal health, less is better.
Hence this holiday season be conscious of your portion sizes. It is better to eat less more frequently, than pack in a huge meal at one sitting.
2. Avoid Sweets or At least Greatly Limit Them
Yes, this means chocolates, cookies, cakes and anything else that is primarily made of sugar. You may be thinking, “but that takes away all the fun” or that “it defeats the purpose of the holidays”. Well if you think that the holidays are about sweets, then if we look at this logically, I imagine your health is not that of a serious priority to you.
The truth is sugar does so much harm in our body, from our organs to our brain to our immune system, and more and more research continues to come out on this blatantly.
I will not deny that we are programmed for “sweet” tastes from an evolutionary point of view, but it does not need to be in the form of refined and processed sugar. There are many wonderful and sweet fruits one can have instead or even a more natural treat to our bodies like raw, dried fruit, sugar plums for which you can find an excellent recipe at In The Raw from EarthMother.
3. Avoid Alcohol or At Least Greatly Limit It
For people who love to drink or think that it is hard if not impossible to have fun or a “party” without it, I always just ask “why”?
As most of us know, alcohol is not the most pleasant tasting substance on the planet and some of us who swear we “love” it do not realize just how addicted we are to its effects. It is after all the same with sugar. As most of us also know alcohol is TOXIC to our bodies – in so many different ways. No, I am not over exaggerating, look it up in any chemistry book.
So the question still begs itself, why do we have such an intense need to drink and more importantly “not be ourselves” – as that is alcohol’s number one visible effect? I think people who drink need to seriously ask themselves that, even before they consider the detrimental health effects.
Why our society promotes a substance that is so toxic to our systems is not really the question here, as we know that just about 50 years ago, they were promoting cigarettes the same way.
The question here, is why WE feel we “need” this substance so much to have “a good time”, instead of just being ourselves.
4. Go Easy On The Animal Products
Well, if you are wondering, no I am not saying this one as a vegetarian, but as a health professional who knows how much of a beating your body takes with the more animal products you eat. And during the holidays most plates are full of a few different meats, never mind the abundant cheese platters and eggnog.
Protein, which is the most abundant macronutrient in animal products, is the hardest for our bodies to digest, and it takes the most out of our digestive system to do so. Hence if you do not enjoy that “tired” or “down” feeling after you eat, fill your plate with more veggies this season and see the amazing change in your energy levels. Your bowels will also thank you for that and you will experience better overall digestion.
5. Forget The Stress And Have Fun
So your baked goods didn’t turn out the way you want? So you are having an unexpected guest or two? Or perhaps you just didn’t find that “perfect” gift you wanted for someone? Well not to worry, because in the grand scheme of things none of these things really matter.
It is through things like this that we put so much stress on ourselves. And why – because we worry what others may think? Over and over, evidence proves that we tend to be our worst enemies when it comes to putting pressure on ourselves for doing or not doing this or that. So just relax and take in the holidays out of your “being” and not out of “doing”.
We know how toxic stress is to the body. You can be eating all the best foods and if you stress, you are almost defeating all of that, as stress robs your body of precious nutrients. Hence, sit back, relax and just be yourself this holiday season. Everything will work out just fine – it always does, whether we stress or not!
So whether it is your Christmas Dinner or New Year’s Eve Party, as much as I wish you a fun and festive time, let us think about our health first, especially at this time as after all the celebrations are gone and done – it is your health that will still always be with you. The question then remains – what state will it be in?
I therefore wish you all, my dear readers, a healthy, restful and joyful holiday season. May you celebrate all the festivities of the season, in a conscious way where your body, mind and spirit are concerned!