Growing up in Australia, the holiday season was mostly confined to the month of December. Halloween wasn’t a big thing (although I’ve heard it’s gaining popularity) and the Thanksgiving holiday doesn’t exist.
We certainly munched our way through sugar-filled treats at Christmas-time, but that was the extent of it. Since moving to the United States, I’ve found the two-month stretch of holidays a challenge when it comes to staying healthy.
It’s not only the opportunity to eat sweets that causes trouble, it’s the extra stress and lack of sleep too. I’d say the amount of time spent indoors is also a contributing factor (remember, Christmas is in the summer in Australia, so we spent time running around outside in the sunshine).
When I say “staying healthy, ” I’m not just referring to the weight that often creeps up over the holiday season, I’m talking about avoiding illness and helping your body function at it’s optimal level.
Here are a few tips to keep you feeling good during the holiday season (and beyond):
1. Limit Sugar
I know, I know, this is hard! But sugar stresses the body and causes inflammation.
Eating excessive amounts of sugar, especially for months on end, depletes your body, causes weight gain, and becomes addictive; leading to difficulties that endure past the holiday season. (Read more about the harmful effects of sugar here.)
It’s tempting to let the holidays turn into a eat-anything-you-want free-for-all (OK, maybe not for you, but I’m talking from my own personal issues here!). We can overcome this by being selective about what treats we actually indulge in.
Don’t go for any old cookie, but enjoy a few special desserts that taste you deem worthwhile.
2. Start your Day with Lemon Water
Coffee may be the first thing on your mind in the morning (it’s OK, you’re not alone), but drinking lemon water first could help you stay healthy.
Lemon water enhances digestion and elimination, which are two important factors for optimal functioning of the body.
Add the juice of half a lemon to 10 ounces of warm water and drink it before eating or drinking anything else. If it’s too sour, sweeten with a little stevia.
Besides improved digestion, you will also get an immune system boost (because of the vitamin C). If you drink lemon water consistently, you’ll likely notice an improved complexion as well!
3. Take an Adaptogen
With the extra stress that often accompanies the holidays, it’s wise to support your body with a few select supplements and herbs. One of my favorite aids during stressful seasons is an adaptogen.
An adaptogen is an herb that helps the body adapt to stress. They are truly remarkable (and evidence to me of a marvelous Creator!). These botanicals not only strengthen the immune system, they also help fight fatigue. Adaptogens enhance the body’s adsorption (and use) of other herbs and supplements too.
There are a variety of adaptogens that support the body in different ways. I like holy basil and ashwaghanda, but there are others that are just as effective. If you’d like to learn more about adaptogens, I recommend this article from Dr. Aviva Romm, in which she shares about her favorite six adaptogens for women, including dosing instructions.
Sleep ofter goes by the wayside during the holidays, and a few late nights won’t do you too much harm, but weeks on end of little sleep is going to wreak havoc on your body. It’s more difficult to deal with stress and much easier to get sick when you haven’t slept enough. Plus, it sleep deprivation also leads to over eating and poor food choices.
This is certainly a challenge, but do your best to get enough sleep during the holiday season. At least most of the time.
5. Practice saying “No”
The holidays season can be a time of many wonderful activities. It’s easy to find ourselves in a position of being out every single night. After a while, this take it’s toll.
Practice saying no to some events. I don’t need to tell you how this can save our sanity, help you get more sleep, and lower your stress level.
I admit, this is tough. But we can do it!
Don’t feel you have to give long-winded explanations. Just say, “I’m sorry, we won’t be able to attend.”
6. Stay Accountable (find support)
During the holidays, you might find that many people around you are making unhealthy choices; whether that be food selection, stress-inducing activity, or excessive late nights. Yes, these are fun, and these shouldn’t be eliminated entirely, I mean, it is the holiday season after all!
If you want to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, it’s wise to find some friends who have the same goals.
Look for a walking buddy, chat via email or phone, or join an online accountability groups.
Whatever works best for you, do what you can to surround yourself with healthy-minded people. When you do, you chances of success skyrocket.
It does require some effort and forethought to keep your health a priority thorough the holiday season. But the effort is worthwhile.
What are your favorite ways to stay healthy thorough the holidays?
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