Yes, we’ve all been there before – early January comes and we’re feeling sluggish, heavy, bloated, and perhaps a bit guilty. I’m on a mission to revolutionize how we take care of ourselves, all year long. But the best place and time to start is here and now.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and the “Festive Season” rolls in quickly after. It can often seem a bit overwhelming, so many events geared around food, seeing family & friends, getting all the work done before you go off work or traveling. Or maybe it’s just tough to be at home with a chill in the air, comforting, warm food in the house, and to NOT overeat.
I’ve put together my 7 best tips on how to care for yourself during these next couple of months – through all of the celebrations and all of the invites. And I’d like to invite you to join me in self-care without deprivation. Yes, I mean it – no dieting, no self-punishment or torture. Let’s aim to get to January feeling great, feeling strong, and feeling nurtured.
7 Empowering Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
1) Be your own friend.
You, whether you fully accept it or not, are a human being, and you have amazing, wonderful qualities. Choosing unhealthy food choices (whether it’s foods that aren’t good for us, healthy foods in too large quantity, or both) is always a sign that you arenot valuing yourself in the way you deserve. Before you make these choices, just take a minute to think about how great you really are – think of your 3 best qualities, nice things you’ve done for someone else lately, and/or what your friends really love about you. And know that these good qualities – they are your truth.
2) Always acknowledge that you have a choice.
The diet industry doesn’t want us to believe that we are powerful enough to make our own choices. They make a heck of a lot of money on the premise that you’re not. Then they get to tell you what to do.
I’m telling you, YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE. You can choose to eat German chocolate cake all day long, you can get up early and go running, you can get drunk every night, or you can base every meal around fresh veggies. All of these have consequences. But know that the choice is YOURS and YOU ARE CHOOSING the results as well. Your friend who wants you to join her in one last piece of pie does not have the power to make you do so – you can say yes, you can say no. You can take the pie home if you want, for later. It’s you who makes the choice. And sometimes, of course, you will join her for that pie. Just make sure YOU choose to do so. It’s totally liberating when we realize that we do have the power of choice.
I don’t care if you say you want to feel great in the morning, and then you gorge yourself on 8 beefsteaks & a cheesecake, and feel sick. Well, really I do care, but it’s not my choice. It’s not something I’m going to do for you. It HAS to come from you. And you need to know you are making ALL of your own choices.
3) Keep drinking.
Water that is, in whatever form works best for you. Carry a water bottle with you if you like, or a thermos & drink herbal tea. Lemon & ginger tea is a great combo this time of year – detoxing, warming & soothing. If you stay hydrated, I promise you, your food cravings will be less – they may still be there, of course, but they will be less.
If you plan on drinking alcohol (and remember it’s your choice), then increase your water intake even more – perhaps have a pint glass of water for every one of booze. Whatever works to remind yourself to drink water. And, of course, remember that if you drink alcohol at all, your judgment will be compromised so you’ll be less aware of what you’re eating. I’m not saying don’t drink, just be conscious of what you’re choosing, so if drinking & losing control is an issue for you, then you can have a plan to be prepared for it.
4) Choose your own guidelines ahead of time.
If I’m going to a big party, event, or gathering where I know there’ll be great food served for hours at a time, I try to tune into myself and the situation before I go. How hungry am I now & how long do I have before I’ll need to eat? What foods am I craving today? Is it a holiday & I really want the foods associated with that day? It helps me to know how long I’ll have before I’m truly hungry, and to keep a mental guide with me in while I’m at the event.
What works best for me is to work out how long it will be before I’m hungry, then to hold off eating until then, and to consciously choose* what will feed me best in that moment. In doing so, I’m not depriving myself and I’m not overeating. I’m making choices, which will help me to satisfy myself and feel good later.
*I know it’s not always easy to consciously choose what you’re going to eat if you’re at a dinner party, but in these cases you can consciously choose to be present & relaxed, and to still choose how much of it you will eat. Just because someone serves you a huge plate of their food, it doesn’t mean you have to finish it.
5) Wherever you are, whatever you eat, eat it slowly.
This one’s quite straightforward. The more you chew your food, and the slower you eat it, the better you will digest it, and the less chance you will eat too much. How slow is slow enough? You can count your chews, if you like, but it’s not the most social of behaviours. Better off, just slow down, and try to be one of (if not the) last ones to finish. If you’re always the first one done, then this especially applies to you!
6) Celebrate & Have a Good Time.
You know you can celebrate by doing other things than eating! In fact, food should play only a small part in a good party. Good conversation, dancing, perhaps walks outside, helping to cook, serve or clean up, playing and making art with children, playing music/singing, offering to walk the dog, offering to get people drinks, helping to decorate or light the fire…the list could go on and on…there are always more ways to celebrate and there are always other things to be done at parties.
7) Make sure you get adequate self-care throughout the whole season, beginning now.
Start taking immune-building herbs today (if you are unfamiliar with this idea, ask a local herbalist or health-food shop). Cold & flu season, combined with overindulgence & stress is just a recipe for illness. Start building your immune system, get regular exercise throughout the winter months (maybe start a new exercise class in November or December, instead of in the New Year), and make sure to treat yourself (at least once a week, if possible) to things like warm baths, body massage or reflexology, healing sessions, quality time with close friends & loved ones. And keep laughing – it’s great for you.