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  • Writer's pictureDr Gi Ming Chan

How to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays

The holiday season is a time of joy, cheer, family time and indulgent treats. However, for some it can also be a time of stress of buying presents, holiday parties, traveling, and more.

The increased exposure to carbs, gluten and sugar, coupled with the holiday stress, travel and lack of sleep, can be rough on our bodies and particularly our digestion.

Enjoy the sweets but remember to include nutrient-rich foods like leafy greens, vegetables and clean protein into your meals

If you are craving dessert, eat some. Allow yourself to enjoy a serving of sweets instead of restricting and overindulging later. You can satisfy your taste without putting yourself into a blood sugar swing. For snacks and meals, always make sure you have nutrient-rich foods to stabilize your metabolism and blood sugar. Eating protein and fiber helps control blood sugar, and decrease the risk of causing as many problems. Alternatives to sugar include stevia, erythritol and xylitol. Fiber also keeps you full and supports digestion.

Avoid trigger foods that cause inflammation or discomfort

Often it’s not just how much we eat, but what foods cause an inflammatory response in our bodies. Avoid the foods that you know you’re sensitive to, and/or avoid common high allergen foods like wheat, dairy, soy and sugar. It’s also helpful to take Omega-3 Fish Oil supplements. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and help to stabilize your brain’s neurotransmitters which in turn may help with depression and anxiety, both of which are high during the holidays.

Make time for movement

Taking time for movement is very important. Try to include more movement on the days you are more likely to overeat, so you are able to burn up some of the extra calories. Move as much as you can throughout the day, even for just a minute or two. Small micro-movements like lunges, crunches, or a few biceps curls when you have a spare minute can really add up. Cleaning and decorating absolutely count as movement, too, especially as you get your heart rate up. You don't always have to do a complete workout to get your daily movement in!

If you make it part of the day’s plan, everyone will feel better and not have as much food guilt.

Take breaks between the holiday cocktails to hydrate

Drinking a lot of water will not only help with regular body functions, but it will also help you feel full. Try to drink 1-2 more glasses of water than you normally do on days where you’re likely to eat more to help satiate you.

Prioritize quality sleep

Sleep is essential to the immune system and blood sugar regulation. Getting good quality sleep can strengthen the immune system and promote healthy systems. Decreased sleep is a risk factor for increased blood sugar, and increased insulin resistance.

Practice stress management techniques

Learning how to manage stress during the holidays is crucial. Stress can prevent you from experiencing feelings of joy, and decrease immune function. Finding joy in things you do every day and having a gratitude practice can help manage your cortisol levels over time. Take a few minutes to note three things you’re grateful for everyday, no matter how big or small. Also, remember to take a few deep breaths throughout the day.

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