Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Plan Ahead for a Stress Free Holiday Season

The countdown is counting down quickly.  Christmas is around the corner and in addition to trying to maintain healthy eating habits around all the holiday parties and get togethers most of us are trying to maintain some semblance of sanity as well.

Sure its all pretty lights, happiness and good cheer, but if you are the one in charge of … well … almost everything then there are also a lot of opportunities for stress (and stress related over-indulging).

Here are some tips I’ve gathered to hopefully help keep the stress under control.  Nothing we haven't all heard before ... but definitely worth hearing again ... go me anyway -- sometimes it takes a lot of repetition before things really sink in!


It’s the middle of flu season and that means all those part guests congregating around the kitchen table, buffet table or cocktails probably all brought along their germs.  Give yourself a fighting chance of avoiding colds and the flu by getting enough sleep and eating healthy.  Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer frequently … especially before raiding the appetizer tray and after shaking a lot of hands.

Dr. Oz recommends trying to “ward off seasonal colds with fruits like cranberries and clementines.  These seasonal favourites are bursting with anti-oxidants to keep you heart and blood vessels happy.  They are high in vitamins A and C, so they also pack a punch for you immune system.  Tart cranberries offer antibacterial benefits, which are known to lower the risk of urinary-tract infections.  For the biggest boost – eat you cranberries fresh and not dried.

There are a lot of tempting treats this time of year, but often an unpleasant side effect of all that food and those fancy cocktails is heartburn.  Avoid that uncomfortable burning sensation by leaving the tight fitting clothes at home.  Wearing something tight may encourage you NOT to overeat, but should you indulge they make you uncomfortable in more ways than one!  Try to eat plan ahead for larger than normal meals.  Have them early enough so that you won’t have to lie down for three hours afterwards.


You shouldn’t have to rule out alcohol altogether.  It’s even been proven that, in moderation, a drink can be good for your heart.  A DRINK – that means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Try to enjoy your cocktail or wine from a tall skinny glass instead of a short, wide one … studies prove you will drink less.

Be sure to stop consuming alcohol well before its time to do to bed.  A nightcap may cause you to feel drowsy, alcohol ultimately disrupts nightly shuteye by decreasing REM sleep and causing more nighttime awakenings.


Getting enough sleep this time of year isn’t easy but it’s worth the effort!  If you skimp on slumber you are guaranteed to be more stressed, sick and – plump.  Lack of sleep throws off the hormones that help control your appetite. 

To get better rest, skip the cookies and spiked cider; a full stomach and alcohol can inhibit sleep (see above).  Make an effort to allow some winding down time as part of your bedtime routine.  If your holidays involve some long distance travel remember to allow for jet lag and travel fatigue.


We gain an average of one pound each winter (if not more), and while that may not seem like a lot, the average person never loses that weight.

One way to ward off seasonal weight gain is to only eat when you are truly hungry.  How do you know?  Start by checking the time.  If it is less than three hours since you last ate something, try drinking some water before grabbing a snack.  We often confuse hunger and thirst because the signals the body sends are similar. 

By eating only when you are truly hungry, you reduce the total calories you take in, improve your blood sugar levels and help lower insulin resistance.


With everything that is going on this time of year it may be difficult to try and find the time to fit in a workout … go for an hour-long jog … or even a quick class at the gym.  Just keep in mind a little can go a long way.  A recent study found that even 15 minutes of moderate activity every day ups life expectancy.  Don’t stress about skipping workouts.  Instead, “think movement and activity” says Kathryn Nobrega-Porter, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto.  “Do some squats in your cubicle, go for a walk at lunch and plan active social outings”.  Mall-walking is a great way to “pre-shop” for gifts and get some exercise in at the same time.

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