Let yourself enjoy Thanksgiving.
This post is to motivate you to experience this holiday season a whole new way.
A few simple tips to redefine what Thanksgiving means to you and your family:
It starts with appreciating what you have. No matter your situation, there is something to be grateful for. Do you have a roof over your head? Food on the table? If you’re reading this, you have internet access. A billion people in the world don’t even have clean water. Sometimes it helps to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand and value the good things in your life which can often go unnoticed.
Enjoy the small things. Spending time with loved ones is more valuable than any food you will ever eat. Be mindful of the world around you. Focus on what is going right in your life during the holidays. When you are RSVPing for parties and fretting over presents, travel and cooking, step back, take five deep breaths and be thankful that you have people to care about and who also care about you.
Now for the you part. Your state of mind influences a systemic array of biological processes, each of which can have beneficial or detrimental effects from mood to metabolism. You are a feedback loop and this is quite evident when considering hormonal balance: the more you stress, the more you will be stressed. Sometimes the best way to handle the holidays is by taking a step back and regulating yourself.
Some physicians recommend supplementing your diet with 600 mg of DHA (omega) daily. Omega fatty acids are important for healthy nerve function, which is closely correlated with healthy hormone and neurotransmitter levels.
Take it easy on the coffee. Perpetual intake of caffeine (more than 2 cups per day) can stress your system and make you feel irritable and impatient. Try a green tea, which has 1/3 the caffeine of coffee and twice the antioxidants. Or go for red rooibos, the naturally decaffeinated tea boasting the highest level of antioxidants.
Nutrition. You are a biochemical system and your body thrives when it is given caliber fuel. Fruits and veggies are loaded with more than just antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are packed with phyto (phyto = plant) nutrients and active enzymes which can reduce oxidative stress on your body.
The 101 on oxidative stress:
You are made up of about 100 trillion cells. Each of these cells uses on average 1 billion ATP molecules every minute to maintain the processes that keep you alive, from breathing to movement to thinking. As you can imagine, this is an extremely complex series of chemical reactions which rely on thousands of enzymes and hormones for regulation. Whole foods like fruits and vegetables contain many of these molecules, which are absorbed by your digestive system and utilized in your body.
What does that mean? Your cells receive ready-to-use fuel, resulting in better overall function and less reactive byproducts that can harm DNA and other cellular structures. Another kicker: enzymes are extremely temperature sensitive and are destroyed when heated. So those processed foods like microwave dinners and canned cranberry sauce lose most of their micronutrient value as well as taste, the latter of which is often made up for by the addition of salt and artificial flavorings.
Tips to maximize the nutrient value of your Thanksgiving meal:
- Fill half your plate with vegetables: loaded with nutrients; light on calories. 1 cup of stuffing packs about 400 calories. You would have to eat 11 cups of raw carrots to match that!
- Substitute flavor for fat. Use more spices in stead of more butter.
- Eat your favorite food first. Studies show that the first couple bites are the most satisfying and that the more you eat, the less responsive your taste buds become. Rather than trying to deny yourself the unhealthy portions of holiday meals, exercise moderation and just eat a little bit. And eat that little bit first.
Sleep. Most of us need more than we get. A recent Columbia study showed that participants who thought they were accurately reporting the amount of sleep they got under reported each night by about an hour. Over the course of a week, that’s almost a full night’s sleep lost!
Get your shuteye by focusing on relaxation before bed. Take a shower and end it with a burst of cool water (your brain needs to cool off by 1/2 degree for you to fall asleep). Turn off lights, particularly those that blink. Don’t check your email, Facebook, text messages or anything digital within 45 minutes of bed as these interfere with alpha brain waves, which tell your body you are ready to rest.
Now that you’re rested, nourished, grateful and relaxed, it’s time to turn this optimized biochemistry into an energetic you that embraces the holiday season with a open arms and a pep in your step.
Exercise is the secret ingredient to a happy, healthy you. Your body needs to be flexed in order to continue working properly. Movement, whether walking around the neighborhood or busting it in a crossfit session, makes your cells more efficient at regulating metabolism and providing fuel for your mind and body. Your brain is only 3% of your total body weight yet uses 20% of the energy that your body produces. The ready availability of fuel for your mind enhances mood, hormonal regulation, appetite, confidence and even perspective.
Try starting a new tradition like running around outside with the family and dog or taking a walk after an afternoon meal. SHare your healthy holiday innovations in the comment section of this post.
In the end, today is your opportunity to create the best holiday season yet. You have the knowledge and the tools and we hope this post is a bit of motivation to get you moving in the right direction. Subscribe to our posts and get the follow up of recipes, tips, ideas and innovations in health and wellness.