For most, the holiday season begins at Thanksgiving and ends in the New Year. The season is a time of joy, nostalgia and social events that include festive foods and treats.
Learn more about how to make healthier choices while still enjoying the spoils of the holidays.
In addition to the many foods and treats we eat, stress from the holidays can be brought on by unwanted guests like depression, family tension or loneliness. Adding activities outside of your regular schedule such as baking, cleaning or irregular eating patterns may become additional stressors to you.
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To combat this and still have an enjoyable holiday season, it is important to make overall healthy choices to have energy and maintain the stamina to care for others.
Stress becomes unhealthy when our bodies do not return to normal and instead believe that they are always under attack (also known as sympathetic nervous system dominance). During this time we can gain an imbalance in our body’s hormone release when, through a series of steps, our body will begin to release more adrenaline and cortisol, causing high blood pressure and weight gain.
Stress also puts you at risk for:
This chronic stress can contribute to many harmful physiological events by releasing a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands, whose function is to mobilize and regulate energy to different areas in the body. When chronically stressed, the fat can be mobilized to the abdomen. Research has shown that fat cells in the abdominal area have a higher level of the enzymes needed to convert cortisol into its active form, thus producing weight gain around the abdominal area.
Fortunately, there are many coping strategies you can utilize to help identify and minimize your stress triggers:
You can also make your holiday indulgences count by avoiding mindless eating. Choose traditional foods you love and that bring back good memories and savor them. Before eating these chosen treats, fill up on healthy foods to provide your body the needed nutrients it needs. Try to eat fresh, organic food whenever possible. Your food should be delicious and have a combination of smells that are irresistible.
You should also eat in the right mindset and focus on the meal. Eating while being emotional or rushed does not create the proper environment for digestion. Good digestion is one less stress your body has to overcome and it is so important for a caregiver to have, in order to have more energy and stamina.
Caring for oneself should be a priority, so here are some ways you can make healthy holiday choices:
Healthy eating is good for the body, mind and spirit. Taking care of yourself is as important as tending to the one you care for. We hope that you can better enjoy your holiday season with these tips.
Dr. Lindsay Jones-Born is a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) in California and co-owner of Born Naturopathic Associates, Inc. BNA is the premier location in the East Bay for integrative medical care for patients of all ages and genders, for both acute and chronic conditions.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please visit www.bornnaturopathic.com or call 510-550-4023.
How do you make healthier choices during the holidays? Share your tips with us in the comments below.