The holidays are always ‘around the corner’– This means family, friends, turkey! For many, the holiday season can induce stress, whether it be because of more or less time with family, poor choices for food, too many responsibilities… Here are some strategies that can help to reduce stress during the holidays while continuing to embark on a natural quest:
- If you are cooking your own Thanksgiving or other holiday meal, without worrying too much about alternatives, try to prepare foods that generally do not have gluten or refined sugars. Gluten is inflammatory and can contribute to stress as well as refined sugars. Turkey is simple enough but what about the gravy? Gravy can easily be thickened with corn starch or potato starch instead of wheat flour. Cook more roasted veggies like roasted sweet potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts instead of vegetable dishes that have a lot of breading. In fact, you can be adventurous and attempt gluten-free stuffing or you can forgo the traditional stuffing and make a cauliflower rice dish instead.
- Do not arrive hungry to holiday gatherings! Have a healthy high protein & high fat snack beforehand. This will help you make better choices when faced with a festive table laden with an abundance of treats! Here are some snack ideas: Natural jerky, carrot sticks with nut or seed butter, hardboiled egg, trail mix.
- Avoid grain when possible—fill your plate with meat, veggies, starchy veggies (sweet potatoes, squash, etc.) and save grain for dessert!
- Bring a healthy dessert to the holiday gathering (check out my Paleo & Gluten-free pumpkin muffin recipe on my blog!).
- Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly—this will help you know when you are full and you will feel more satiated! Also, chewing your food thoroughly will help your body digest optimally.
- Instead of offering bottles of wine or champagne during the holidays, have on hand bottles of sparkling cider, at least as an easy alternative for those that want to avoid alcohol. Alcohol breaks down in the body as a sugar and can create more stress in the body during a time that potentially presents with enough stress as it is. Avoiding alcohol as much as possible during the holiday season will help to make us more tolerant to all the extra pressures that the holidays can bring.
- Drink lots of water—avoid juice and alcohol when you can and just drink water!
- Drink green tea—this will help with detox of heavier holiday meals. Here is a link to a very good quality, medicinal oolong green tea that I get from a tea farm in Taiwan: http://bit.ly/oolonggreentea.
- Carve out some time for yourself during the holiday season. You can incorporate some exercise into your week or even just a walk outside for some fresh air every day. This simple action can create some movement in your body and help with releasing stress.
- Perform daily mindfulness & meditation activities in the morning and before bed during the holidays—this will help you manage stress. There are some fantastic smartphone apps for guided meditation that offer shorter and longer options. Here are some great ones for incorporating daily guided meditation into your daily routine during the holidays to help reduce stress: Headspace; 10% Happier.
- Lastly, it is helpful to remember that the holiday season is about being thankful and spending more time with the people we care about, whether that is our family and/or friends. Stress may be inevitable but reminding ourselves that it’s okay, that we’re doing the best we can– reminding ourselves that we faced challenges this past year and overcame them, that we’re wonderful and special and worthy! To be able to give our love to others, we need to love ourselves. During this holiday time, we can be patient with ourselves and enjoy…
Tune in for the next Facebook-Live episode of Simply Paleo with me this Friday November 16, at 9:30 am (EST)! I’ll be making a decadent chocolate cake with chocolate frosting– a perfect celebration dessert for the holidays, a birthday, or ‘just because’!