How to Make the Most of Your Holidays
When you think of the holidays, what comes to mind? Likely time with family and friends, perhaps exchanging gifts, and almost assuredly, large amounts of food. I think people feel “out of control” during and after this season because there’s not just one or two holiday celebrations, rather several months of eating more sugar, drinking more alcohol, and eating “more” in general.
So, what’s the solution for avoiding the fog of holiday celebrations that leaves us feeling out of alignment come springtime?
Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can give is to stay present during these engagements. Certainly, stay present and enjoy the people around you, but also be intentional with the food and alcohol you’re drinking. Listen to what your body is telling you and honor its cues. Even though virtually everyone will respond to this with “well, duh”, most of us struggle with this concept. It’s important that we learn to differentiate between foods we actually want and foods that are simply available or that we eat out of habit.
This is a process that takes time! Have grace with yourself; habits and patterns don’t typically change overnight. If you leave a holiday celebration feeling like you’ve overdone it, keep moving forward and take it day by day. If you need help with anything discussed here, I would be more than happy to provide counsel.
In addition to staying present, I believe it’s crucial to identify your focus this season. In other words, what’s your “why” or motivation? Clearly defining the impetus behind your choices will embolden you to make decisions that further your aspiration rather than succumbing to what others are doing.
Are you working to regain your strength and energy?
Are you nourishing your gut health?
Are you trying to learn how to relax and enjoy food?
Are you aiming to support your immune system through the winter months?
If you want to break away from the tireless New Year's resolutions around dieting, weight loss, fitness, and health then learn to depart from that cycle now. Make decisions that intentionally and lovingly nourish your body, mind, and spirit.
Holidays are generally not a great time to introduce lots of new dietary habits, but you can take simple steps to support nervous system balance, easy digestion, and immune system function.
My simple suggestion for all meals (holiday or not) is to combine protein and carbohydrates for optimal blood-sugar balancing. You don’t need to stress about perfect ratios on your plate, simply be mindful of pairing these foods together to minimize blood sugar spikes that can be followed by fatigue and anxiety.
If you’re eating three different types of carbohydrate-heavy foods (i.e. mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and green bean casserole), consider integrating other sources of protein slightly before or after the carb-focused meal (ex: collagen in coffee, sipping on bone broth, eating a snack of meat + cheese). The goal is to support stable blood sugar so that you feel energetic, easy-going, and engaged (instead of lethargic, reactive, and unfocused).
Do your digestive system a favor and give it a fighting chance! Engage your parasympathetic nervous system by utilizing the “physiological sigh” before eating. Briefly inhale and hold a long exhale. This exhale-emphasized breath activates our parasympathetic state, allowing our body to feel calm but engaged which is essential for maximized digestion and absorption. If our nervous system is stuck in the sympathetic state, this communicates action/movement to our body and blood flow is directed away from our digestive organs towards our extremities. This impairs complete, easy digestion.
Thoroughly chew your food and avoid taking big gulps of water (or other liquids) while you’re eating. If you aren’t taking the time to readily chew your food, the natural enzymes that are present in your saliva are inhibited. Additionally, drinking liquids while eating dilutes digestive enzymes and gastric acid. It’s important to support these crucial components of our physiology to make it easier for our body to utilize food.
Another incredibly easy way to support digestion is to take digestive enzymes. These enzymes provide support to break down food, truly absorb the nutrients, and encourage regular bowel movements. When taken between meals, these enzymes can work systemically and help to cleanse the blood, therefore supporting robust immune function. During the month of December, all our digestive enzymes are 15% off.
No matter what holidays you celebrate this season, cherish the time you have with loved ones. Make conscious decisions for your mind, body, and spirit, and have grace for yourself in the process!