Grazing – eat smaller portions
As difficult as it is to resist all the holiday goodies that are out there, remember the golden rule: if you aren't hungry, stay away from the food table. While socializing, it's easy to forget how many of those cheese pastries or truffles you gulped down while sipping your drink.
One trick is to eat some healthy, fiber- rich foods before you hit the party scene. Then you can graze at leisure without the risk of overindulging from hunger. Also, try to take half portions to satisfy your sweet tooth without overburdening your body. If you are the host, be part of the solution by serving smaller portions of everything so guests can indulge without overdoing. Offer healthy alternatives such as veggie sticks with a humus dip, lots of greens, and other whole foods.
And when you are in between activities, keep your fridge stocked with healthy foods so that you aren't tempted to take in more sweets and heavy foods. Plan your grocery shopping so you can prepare lighter meals to compensate for all the rich dishes elsewhere. Eat regularly to avoid overdoing it at the next occasion. With all of this planning, how about considering these actions as the start of a healthy habit!
While on the subject of food, consider making it homemade. Leave the over packaged and processed stuff in the stores this season and go for some real food when entertaining. Have you ever thought about all the food that is inside of a grocery store? Amazingly, most of it doesn't even qualify for whole, healthy, or even real food. Nearly everything that is inside the outside aisles of the store is packaged and processed "food". Do your body and the planet a favor by buying most of your product from the perimeter and avoid the inside aisles.
Gifts – think outside the box
I love finding a great gift for giving and for me that means really nailing it when it comes to thinking of what is meaningful for the person I'm giving it to. So skip the usual trinkets and go for something really irresistible. You might be surprised to know how often the most loved gifts are the ones that recognize a creative talent, neglected interest, or a need for pampering. You can buy a gift certificate for a treatment or donate to a charity in the person's name. Or look for hidden talents yearning to come out of hiding - treat the person to a session of classes like salsa, art, cooking, or singing. Acknowledging someone's interests and aspirations can be very healing and empowering. Nice! And think of all the trees you'll be saving by avoiding all the big packaging.
Drink – get lots of H2O...
Alcohol and all of that chocolate can be very dehydrating. Too much alcohol can disrupt your sleep, inhibit your immune system, make you feel sick or sluggish the next days, dehydrate your body, and make you more susceptible to cold viruses and the flu. Here's a little trick to help keep things in check. Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink and you will cut down on your alcohol consumption and keep your body liquids in better balance. Water also helps to get rid of toxic waste and keeps energy in check.
Move! (And I'm not talking about away from that dessert table (a good idea nonetheless.))
It's really important to maintain some routine of exercise to keep your energy flowing, burn off those calories and relieve stress, all at the same time.
Yes, that holiday shopping can add up. Take public transport and walk around while shopping. If you are driving, park your car far from the shops and walk the extra bit, take the stairs instead of the elevators, basically take any option that offers movement.
Between all of the holiday activities, kids on school holiday, and relatives and friends visiting, it's important to keep some semblance of an exercise routine, even if Ii's only the abridged holiday version!
Stress that is. High amounts of stress, especially prolonged stress, create a lot of havoc for your body and your mind. Stress lowers your immune system, reducing your body's capacity to react to infection. So in addition to regular exercise, ensure you are getting those adequate hours of sleep every night. Sleeping at least 8 hours a night for most people helps keep inflammation in the body down and the immune system functioning. Also consider a Vitamin C supplement that can raise the body's resistance to colds. Its powerful antioxidant effect assists to increase vital cellular processes and protect DNA from damage. Find a good source of non-acidic vitamin C supplements to help keep your health and keep away colds and the flu.
When you feel your stress level rising, try yoga breathing (ujjaiyi) to help regulate your blood pressure and calm things down. Also helpful is two for one breathing. Exhale for twice the count of your inhale. This can slow your heart rate, calm your mind, and lower your blood pressure. Try these whenever you feel your stress level rising.
Go outside and do something fun with your family. Walk around the neighborhood to look at holiday displays or organize a walk in the park during family get-togethers. Chances are, if your family gatherings are stuffy and something you don't look forward to, the rest of the party feels the same. Put a new spin on some of the old traditions to keep the energy positive and flowing. Taking walks, hiking, and enjoying other family activities with relatives will also help use up the energy from the extra servings.
Take time for yourself – even if its 15 minutes a day just to relax, disconnect from all the holiday commotion, and really go into yourself. Meditation is a good way to lower stress. Choose a place where you won't be interrupted – try it first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night, or even in the car before heading somewhere. Don't know how to meditate? How about an audio guide to meditation as another great gift idea!
Make a bird feeder
While holiday gatherings tend to be focused on indulgence, you can balance them with some quality time with your family. Outdoor projects with kids are fun and educational. A bird feeder is easy to make and draws a lot of birds during the cold winter months. Another idea is to help solitary bees find more nesting places by preparing nesting tubes in hollow branches or plant stems. Go to http://www.buglife.org.uk/getinvolved/gardening/beenestsforgardeners for more information. Wait and hang them out in March to be ready for spring buzzing. Creating an eco-friendly activity can help make children more aware of our impact on the environment, and if children grow up green, they help the earth stay healthy too.
And finally... Just say Yes!
Say yes to staying home...sometimes less is more and enjoying family time can be a lot more satisfying.