Keep Calm & Merry On!

December 3, 2014
Categories: Holidays, Inspiration

10 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

Holidays can be a joyful time – filled with family, friends, parties, and giving/receiving presents!

But the holidays can also be difficult for someone that is missing loved ones, is stressed about finances, work or family; or is just overwhelmed by long shopping & to do lists. All of this can impact our immune system, mental health, and our adrenals – we basically exhaust ourselves trying to do it all!!

Another thing many of us worry about is getting through the holidays without gaining weight.  We tend to pin all the holiday weight gain on the cookies, cocktails, and pies.  Sure, those can be a big culprit. But did you know that excess stress also leads to weight gain? Multiple studies show that stress causes the body to store excess fat in the waistline.

Want to Keep Calm and Merry On this season?

Try these 10 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season:

  1. The Power of “No Thanks” – One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to be selective about what you commit to this time of year. Realize that it is okay to politely decline some invitations. Over-scheduling means added stress.  Practicing self-care and maintaining balance during the holidays means finding some “downtime” to decompress and relax.
  2. Get Your Mood and Brain Food – found in fatty fish, fish oils, chia seeds, and some nuts and seeds, omega 3 fatty acids are important for our mood and brain function. One of my top 5 supplements for year round, omega 3s are especially important during times of increased stress or sadness.  I like Barleans brand, and also Carlson – both available at your local healthfood store.  Another source of omega 3s that are great for this time of year, are chia seeds – in addition to the omega 3 content, chia seeds can also help to prevent weight gain.  Read Ch Ch Chia for the Holidays to learn more!
  3. Boost Your Mood with Beneficial Bacteria – Healthy bacteria not only boost immunity and digestion, but they have been linked to improved mental health and a healthy weight – and so much more.  Find them in fermented foods like kimchee, kombucha, kefir, or yogurt (look for lower sugar kinds); or take a probiotic supplement (especially critical if you have been on antibiotics this year). Read more about The Importance of Good Bacteria.
  4. Get Sunny with Some Sunshine – Shown in studies to be more effective than a flu shot, vitamin D is a very powerful immune system regulator.  Basically, our immune system can not work properly without optimal levels of vitamin D! Important for bone health, cold and flu prevention, cancer prevention, vitamin D was shown in studies to reduce asthma and improve skin conditions like Psoriasis and recurring staph infections. And according to the Vitamin D council, low vitamin D levels could raise our risk of depression.  Read: Immune System Superstar – Vitamin D for more info.
  5. Cut Cravings with Coconut oil – One of my secret metabolism-boosting and cravings busters is coconut oil. I take 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil daily in my coffee, tea or morning smoothie.  If I do not have my coconut oil every morning, I am significantly more hungry throughout the day.  Taking another teaspoon before a party may help you resist the cookie table, and studies also show that it might offer a protective effect on the liver.  Look for virgin unrefined such as Barleans brand.  Read: Cuckoo for Coconut Oil! to learn more.
  6. Boost Energy with B Vitamins – these water soluble vitamins are excreted more quickly during times of stress, and are important for energy, quality sleep, detoxification, and many different aspects of the metabolism.  So taking a high quality B vitamin complex during the holidays can be helpful for energy, sleep and detox.  Or better yet – get in for a B complex shot.  Just make sure your multivitamin or doctor uses the methylcobalmin form of B12, which is better converted than cyanacobalamin.
  7. Boost Energy and Immunity with Mushrooms – medicinal mushrooms are superfoods that can boost our energy, support our immune system, and even can improve the quality of our skin and hair!!  A type of fungi, or bacteria, mushrooms have been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years.  One way to incorporate them into the diet is with certified organic mushroom powders, like those from Mushroom Matrix, which can be added to smoothies and soups, etc.  Mushroom Matrix offers organic mushroom powders, and have extended a 10% off coupon for me to share with you, enter: rebalancelife at checkout to get your 10% discount. Some Mushroom Matrix organic powders to try:
    • Cordyceps – Discovered by Tibetian herdsman, cordyceps mushrooms are unique in that they grow on insects. Cordyceps are known to boost oxygen delivery and ATP synthesis – which is critical for energy production. Other potential benefits of cordyceps include: reducing inflammation, supporting a healthy mood, a healthy weight, healthy cholesterol levels, as well as anti-tumor effects, and blood sugar management.
    • Reishi mushrooms are adaptogenic, which means they adapt to help support the body recover from physical and mental stress.  Often called “the mushroom of immortality,” reishi mushrooms support the immune system and the cardiovascular system.  They support aerobic capacity and recovery.

    Make sure to choose organic when purchasing mushrooms or mushroom powders/supplements.

  8. Soothe Sore Shopping Muscles with salt baths –  Long day of shopping or a stressful day at the office leave you feeling stiff and sore?  End your day with a soak in a warm tub with salts. I like Dead Sea Warehouse salts because they are very reasonably priced, have zero perfumes or chemicals, are are minerally rich salts from the dead sea.  The body will soak up magnesium and other important minerals from the salts.  Limit salt baths to approx. 20 minutes, and rinse off in the shower afterwards (if you have diabetes or another health condition, check with your doctor first).  Another way I like to soothe sore muscles and de-stress during the holidays is with acupuncture.
  9. Calm Anxiety with Green tea – Green tea is the most widely consumed beverages in the world (second only to water).  Rich in polyphenols catechins, green tea is an unfermented tea which offers powerful immune system benefits. It also offers protective effects against cancer, heart disease, and neurological diseases. Green tea contains an amino acid called L-Theanine, which is known to provide a calming effect, while also improving focus and concentration.  You can also take a Theanine supplement if you want the calming benefit without drinking the tea, 100 mg of L-Theanine is a typical dose.
  10. Get Your ZZZZs– Do you find it harder to sleep during the holidays?  Stress raises our cortisol levels, and when those are out of whack, it can make it very hard to fall or stay asleep.  If you want to get a better night’s sleep – turn off the electronics an hour before bedtime, and skip the afternoon cup of coffee. Some people find that taking melatonin before bedtime can be helpful too. I like the Energetix brand because it is a spray and so you can adjust the dose down if you prefer a smaller dose.

If you are hitting the holiday party circuit, you might want to read this article:  Natural Hangover Prevention and Treatment.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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