Are you ready for the holidays? I’m asking myself that same question. Not so much am I ready with shopping underway, décor up, holiday menu’s planned, but am I ready for the constant onslaught of goodies. Do I have a plan in place to stay healthy and keep my immune system strong and ready to defend the holiday colds and flu that make their rounds every winter? Before the festivities begin, here’s a personal guide to maintaining energy and good health so we can enjoy all this holiday season has to offer. Perhaps you’ll find it helpful.
For me, the more fresh veggies that I put on my plate, the less I crave of sweets. I can’t explain in reasonable terms why this happens. But it does. Every time. The breakdown comes when I get too busy to grocery shop and fill my fridge with those vibrant greens, tubers and roots. Or I skip a meal so what ever is around at work (usually a sweet treat) looks too good to resist because I’m so hungry. And so begins a cycle of those nasty sweet cravings. Ugh!
However, when the rhythm is right and I’m consistent, the veggies keep coming! Those of preference are sweet root veggies, roasted sweet squash, yams, and cruciferous vegetables like cabbages, kale, Brussels Sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. Making a few recipes ahead to keep on hand makes eating fresh more convenient. Ideally, a healthy variety of raw and cooked is very satisfying. Checkout some of the recipes on this blog to get you started like; Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Broccolini Tofu Stir Fry with Cashews, Julienned Beet, Broccoli Stem and Carrot Salad, Cumin Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Root Vegetables with Miso Sauce and Asian Kale Slaw…just to name a few.
2. Stay active. The seasons busy-ness can crowd out a workout routine and I’m going to try my best to hang on tight. Exercise invigorates and promotes proper blood circulation and energy. It helps me maintain a healthy weight and helps with stress management. When possible, I’d like to get out in the sunshine and fresh air. Exercise is one of those things that brings a sense of well being. It keeps me from looking elsewhere for that “feel good” vibe that may be less constructive.
As Christmas nears, it’s tempting to squeeze in one more present to wrap or make another recipe, hours after dark. Bedtime past 10 pm is a killer for this morning workout girl. Staying active begins the night before by going to bed early. This is one I wrestle with continually. Hopefully putting this out there in writing will be built in accountability to stay consistent.
3. Start the day right. This is different for everybody, or so I’ve heard, but for me, eating a healthy breakfast sets the tone for good habits for the rest of the day. Fresh green smoothies, a bowl of Healing Miso Soup, Overnight Crock Pot Oatmeal or eggs over greens are all foundational for building a strong immune system. Days that breakfast is skipped or poorly nourished are spent compensating and grabbing at tempting empty calories which happen to be those same foods that weaken the immune system.
4. Get enough sleep. It’s the body’s way of restoring itself and recharging for what’s ahead. A skewed perspective, vulnerable to lingering germs and irritability are signs I’m sleep deprived. Latest studies show sleep deprivation gives way to high calorie carbohydrate cravings. No thank you sleep deprivation. You’re not ruining my holiday!
5. Eat healthy at home. It’s not like we never eat out. We have our local favorite restaurants serving sushi, artisan pizza, Asian and northwest cuisine. Eating at home means I’m cooking and cooking means there are leftovers. Being prepared and well stocked is a big part of eating clean and fresh. Batch cooking ahead, having nourishing snacks on hand (Peanut Butter Granola Bars, pictured below, healthy crackers, nuts, hummus, fresh fruit) plus having a fully stocked pantry keep us close to home, eating unprocessed whole foods, affordably. Naturally the benefit to cooking is being able to fill our meals with nourishing ingredients. You’re probably thinking I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and you’re right. It’s a choice I am happy to make. My hubby and I have an agreement that if I’m cooking, he does all the clean up. It works for me!
6. Drink lots of water. It seems like a no brainer, but when life gets to buzzing it’s one of the first things to go. My water bottle goes with me everywhere. While studies vary, the general consensus is to divide your weight in pounds by two to determine the number of ounces to consume daily. Looks like Santa (at 300 pounds) will be drinking about a gallon a day!
7. Take time to be quiet. Introverted I am not, but solitude is a necessary daily ingredient. Quiet reflection and prayer keeps me focused on what’s most important. It transforms the chaos of life to calm. This time of retreat empowers me to say no to external demands and say yes to the internal practice of worship and gratitude.
Having said all of that, in the wee hours of the morning, you’ll find me shuffling into the kitchen for one very strong cup of coffee.
Here’s to a healthy holiday,