The holidays are a time for family, friends, festivity and indulgence. It is important to allow yourself to cut-loose and celebrate once in a while, unfortunately extra alcohol, sugar, decrease in exercise and less sleep can leave some feeling less than festive. A few tips can go a long way to help you stay healthy and happy through the holiday season. I could make a really long list of tips, but have decided to keep it simple, because sometimes less is more.
- Moderate Alcohol Intake: for most of us this is a no-brainer, but a gentle reminder never hurts. Increased alcohol intake over the holidays not only can leave you with a few extra pounds, it can also leave you feeling dehydrated, and depressed. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of many nutrients including B vitamins and Zinc. B vitamins are important for energy, metabolism, keeping your brain energized and sharp, and most importantly for good moods. A depletion of B vitamins can lead to depression, and anxiety.
- Take a daily B-complex. As mentioned above, B vitamins are depleted by alcohol, as well as by stress, illness and poor diet. A daily supplement can help keep you energized and happy through the holidays.
- C+ Zinc has also made the list because they are vital to healthy immune function. As we gather with our loved ones their germs may get passed around with the tray of treats. Sugary treats suppress the immune system and make us more susceptible to cold and flu bugs. Supplements like vitamins C and Zinc can help reduce the risk of getting sick if you are exposed, as well as reduce the severity and duration of an infection.
- Water, water, water! I understand that getting in enough water can be a challenge when you are rushing around getting your shopping done, racing to get all your work done and then rushing off to a party. But it is so key to health that you can’t ignore it. Water helps prevent you looking dehydrated, flushes out toxins, and keeps you flexible. If cold water is not appealing, then switch it up with herbal tea. Lavender, Chamomile, and Licorice tea can be hydrating as well as nerve calming. Dandelion and Milk thistle tea can help the liver and kidneys function well.
- Probiotics: in the form of fermented foods like Sauerkraut, Kefir and supplements help maintain healthy gut flora, metabolize alcohol and keep the body in harmony. Many people find that indulging in foods they wouldn’t normally eat can cause them to have a flare up of eczema, psoriasis and / or acne. These types of flare-ups are due in part to increased stress, but also to gut inflammation and growth of negative bacteria. Taking in lots of good bacteria (probiotics) can help keep your gut strong, which benefits the entire body and is reflected with healthy skin.
- Don’t forget your fruit and veggies. This is another basic, but we all need reminding. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that are essential to life. If you are finding it tricky to get your days worth in, then consider starting the day with a fruit and veggie smoothie. A handful of spinach, some pineapple and blueberries, and a little mint, ginger, or cilantro blended with Avocado will start your day off right! This can also be a good thing to have before heading out to a Christmas party. You don’t want to go to a party hungry or you will definitely gravitate towards the richest foods and most likely have too much of them. While, choosing to stick to the veggie platter is better for health, raw cruciferous vegetables can cause bloating and gas. Keep this in mind if you decide to wear a very form-fitting outfit.
- Sleep. Getting regular adequate sleep is vital to mental and physical health. Elevated stress can make it hard to sleep so it is important to try and shut down before trying to sleep. You will most likely be more productive and efficient if you are well rested. Nerve calming teas have already been mentioned as a way to help calm nerves and get more sleep. Another good one is Magnesium Glycinate. Magnesium can help to reduce cortisol in the evening, allowing you to have a better quality of sleep.
- Exercise: Ski, shop, dance, walk. Whatever you like to do, make sure you do at least a little everyday. The body is meant to move. If you aren’t moving you will get stiff, sore, tired and you will gain weight. Exercising through the holidays can be difficult so I encourage you to do what you can. A little is better than none!
Dr. Natalie Waller, B. Kin, ND