How to take care of yourself and stay healthy during stressful times like the Holidays? These following words of wisdom are are written by a plant based food coach who is also a mom, a wife and is constantly juggling a million balls, in the air, at one time.
Ok, so we are in hardcore holiday mode now. Since Thanksgiving is over, the gloves are off. Christmas lights have come out in my neighborhood, and now the stores are unabashedly playing the carols. We have harking going on all over.
As the intensity climbs, one normally turns to different forms of comfort to come down off the excitement. After all, this season is different from any other time of year. There is spending, and traveling, and partying, and celebrating galore!
We need to settle down at some point. The problem is that when we need "extreme" food to do that, we pay for it dearly, long after the tree is boxed up for another year.
The Holiday-Food Connection
In the United States, it is common to link our holidays to food. Right?
July 4th brings corn and apple pie, on Halloween it's candy corn, Valentine's day is about chocolate and it almost feels like you are "not celebrating" if you don't partake of these foods.
Interesting how there is that link, don't you think? December seems to be one of the worst times, where the parties extend over days, if not weeks.
So, rather than needing to abstain for an evening, you might feel like you are holding up a damn by saying no to the Christmas cookies, week after week, until eventually, that damn breaks.
Then, the party just begins and what I hear out of a lot of people, is that they will wait until after the new year to start on their plan… but that never comes, either because they are too ashamed or too discouraged to even start.
Does this sound familiar? This was me, for years. Until I learned to take care of myself during the holidays. Here are a few things I have done that I think might be able to help you too, and I share them with you in the hopes of saving you a few years of frustrating Januarys.
How to Stay Lean & Sane During the Holidays
Here are a few things I have done that I think might be able to help you too, and I share them with you in the hopes of saving you a few years of frustrating Januarys.
1. Go to a Party to Socialize
Yup! I don't go for the butter toffee popcorn!
Before, I used to look forward to each party anticipating the hostess's special food treat. I used to know my favorites at each stop! It didn't matter who was there if there was my all time favorite, the pecan pie!
Now, I go to see the people. And, if the group isn't to my liking, I don't go. Have you ever realized that if you are somewhere that brings you stress, that you can eat over it? But, back to my point, going to a party for the party itself is a much better motivation for me.
2. Over-plan and Under-schedule
During the month of December, I try to leave "space" in my schedule for downtime. Now, I will admit, that it might get filled by an extra errand, or special thing I might do, but then I am at choice rather than dragged through the day.
I also look at each day and make sure my food is taken care of. That means that I bring snacks and even meals with me.
3. Bring Food to a Party
When I am invited to someone's home, I always ask what to bring. If appropriate, I will bring a huge salad with a creamy dressing for everyone to share and a vegan dessert that is naturally sweetened that only some will want. (and yes, I will take the rest home!!)
This way, my meal is taken care of. No need to stress about what to omit from a meal or if I will be left unsatisfied. Big plate of greens topped off with a savory dressing followed by a lean and light dessert will prevent me from ogling the brownies!
4. Stay in your Routine
I keep my morning routine the same, to stave off cravings and other wild ideas. Every morning, I make myself a huge mason jar of hot lemon water.
This has a myriad of magical properties, but what it does now, is to keep me on track, my eye on the prize, and remembering that this time of year is just as holy as any other time of year.
I also continue my yoga practice. I take care of my body during these weeks, as much as I would any other time of year.
Just because there is a different mark on the calendar does not mean that sugar, dairy and refined products won't make me get a pimple. I am just as effected during the holiday season as any other season. Knowing that keeps me on track and centered.
5. Blessing the Sadness
This time of year brings back all the sadness from the months that just passed. I think a lot of people feel this, but can't put their finger on it. I used to eat over it.
So, keeping that in mind, I welcome the sadness and know that it is a part of my growth, the events that brought me to today. When I am having the most joyous of times, and feel that small twinge, I bless it and let it go, knowing that its appearance is showing me the journey that I have been on.
6. Hand out Gifts with Intention
I don't give out any poison I wouldn't take myself. I stopped giving sweet treats for presents. I stopped giving out toxic, foil wrapped, pretty packages. I think I was doing it with an underlying wish of being able to eat it myself.
Now, I realize that no one can eat it and if I love the person enough to even think of giving them a gift, it will not be the one that drags them down.
It has taken me years to get this right and following these steps delivers me to a beautiful January filled with promise and positive hopeful feelings. I hope it does the same for you.
Happy holidays to all of you. I hope it delivers you to a higher level of thought and gratitude.
What are the steps you could take in order to stay healthy and focused during hectic times? Which tip was the most inspiring to you? Let us know in the comments below.
Ana Goldseker, CNC is a plant based food coach living in Baltimore, Maryland. She has her clients skype with her or meet her in person in her office. She is also Director of Nutrition at NAVA Health and Vitality where she created all the nutrition programs with wellness, inflammation and alkaline balancing in mind. You can email Ana or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.