Navigating the Holidays
It is easy to get caught up in the cultural norm: stress from doing too much, missed sleep, overeating, drinking too much, and strained relationships.
There is no Peace on Earth if there is no peace in your life. Let’s take a step back and consider a different approach.
Health in Mind
Let’s navigate the holidays with health in mind, and our highest priority.
One thing that works in my life is to keep it simple. I have lived enough years to know that I don’t have to do everything this year. I especially don’t have to miss sleep to do things that I might have thought I had to.
By paring it down, I really enjoy what I do, and make what I do count.
We are presented with lots of opportunities to go places, do things, see people, and make it special. The outdoor holiday parade, business open houses, children’s dance performances, musical concerts, religious services, travel out of town to see friends and relatives.
Consider which things truly nurture you and your relationships. Then choose only those things and make sure you pace yourself with time for taking care of yourself in between. This requires an honest knowing yourself and what your limits are, and making your health and vitality the highest priority.
If you feel this is difficult because everyone seems to have different demands on you and you want everyone to be happy, use this little trick. Hear what everyone’s desires are and I will show you how you can fulfill everyone’s desire on a basic level without going crazy.
Satisfying Everyone’s Desire
Say, on a particular Saturday, the kids want to go shopping, you want to stay home and bake, and your spouse wants to go to the golf course. What look like different directions actually must be examined to find out what is the underlying desire.
You all need to have a discussion to find out the real desire behind the action. The kids want to go shopping, because they know they will see their friends at the mall. You want to bake because you promised cookies for the bake sale, but actually you just need a day home by yourself, not going out. Your spouse just wants to be outside before the winter weather sets in.
Then you start brainstorming and come up with options. So each person decides if one action fulfills their main desire that also fits with the other’s desires. Perhaps your spouse can take the kids to the holiday parade, because their friends are actually going to be there, and he can be outside enjoying the weather.
Perhaps you will not joint them to take time for yourself, and recruit help from the kids to bake cookies later. Or maybe you go shopping with the kids to get things done, then they meet up with their friends and your spouse picks them up later, so you can spend time at home later by yourself. There are thousands of permutations of how it could go, and each person can get their desire fulfilled.
Of course . . . Holiday Sweets
Then there is the issue of sugary foods everywhere you look. It really is healthier to avoid or minimize sugar, so I will give you some strategies to continue eating healthy while the holidays are going on.
Remember, just because others are doing it, it does not mean you have to! People who live successful lives in all areas choose to stick to their priority – in this case, health, and not be swayed by what is going on all around.
First, never go anywhere famished, so that you succumb to what is in front of you because you are too hungry to make a rational choice. Carry protein snacks with you like nuts or the Amino Acid Quicksorb drops that I sell in the office, that you can have if the next meal looks to be delayed.
Make sure you eat meals focused on significant protein, vegetables and fruits. Never just carb foods by themselves – that sets you up for more cravings very soon.
When you arrive, you will probably be offered a drink, and if you accept, your eating inhibitions will be lifted along with social inhibitions. Save that drink for later, if you choose one at all. Also, being so hungry when you arrive may in itself set you up for rationalizations to eat more than you planned, because you just can’t help it.
Give your body the nutrients it needs during the day before the party.
3 Bite Rule
When it comes to desserts and sweet treats, keep in mind the 3 bite rule. First of all, not all treats are worthy of your make-the-most-of-it bite, so choose wisely. Maybe it’s the pecan tart which is your favorite, or the catered petit fours that you never tasted before.
Remember your priority of valuing your health, and graciously accept one thing without making a big fuss about calories or fattening or how sinful it it. This it the one thing you have chosen to really enjoy, so do live a little!
Remember, this does not give you permission to live a little over and over again. Simply take one bite as if you were being watched on national TV and enjoy it to the max. Then you may have one or two more bites, then step away, you are done.
Your taste sense does get tired of a flavor after a lot more than that, so you have made the most of it!
If you think you are winning by eating sweets that are artificially sweetened, I have to tell you that you are not. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Nutrisweet), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) and others can have insidious consequences on health from insomnia to cancer.
In addition, studies have shown that people who use these do not save on calories overall. This can be explained by the fact that the body expects calories to burn when it tastes something sweet, so when there is nothing to burn with an artificial sweetener, the body sends a signal to eat more food, and you do.
Certain foods tend to be inflammatory in the body: wheat and other gluten grains, cow’s milk, citrus, peanuts, soy, GMO corn (most), and eggs for some. With some ingenuity, you can avoid most, and find out with an elimination/challenge diet which you are sensitive to.
When cooking at home, substitute spaghetti squash for pasta. And sometimes you may indulge in bean thread noodles (found in the oriental food section), they are gluten-free.
Buy unsweetened almond or coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. Choose almond butter instead of peanut butter, and raw almonds for snacks. There is pea protein powder instead of soy protein powder. And roast sweet potato slices instead of corn chips.
It becomes a different way of looking at your meals. Two cookbook that I recently discovered and purchased – that I could make almost every recipe – are: Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals, and Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings, and Toppings.
Based on the Paleo or Primal food movement, they are without grains, soy, corn, and most without dairy. Very satisfying and very tasty. Just a sauce could liven up a simple meal – yum!
Remember to Exercise
Even 10 minutes – if you know what to do – can be very helpful in maintaining your sanity, maintaining your body.
So, my wish is that this helps you navigate through the holidays with health in mind. Because you truly will feel better and enjoy things more if you are not stressed and overindulging – and truly experience the Peace of the season.
Please leave comments below about how you have used these strategies and how they worked for you!
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