The holiday season is here. For many people this is a time of family gatherings, get- togethers, and vacations. It can also be a time of stress, pre-occupation with food, and a lack of self-care. This may lead to fatigue, body inflammation, fluctuations in blood sugars, digestive woes and overall unhappiness. Let’s try to avoid the chaos of the holiday season by incorporating these mindful eating and self-care strategies.

Start your day with deep breaths and gentle stretches.

The actual day of Thanksgiving day or holiday can be especially busy and stressful. Start the day by taking in some deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, then breathe out through your mouth with a sigh. Repeat this deep breathing at least three times. Try to clear your mind as you practice this deep breathing technique. Afterwards roll into some gentle stretches to relieve any neck stiffness, shoulder soreness, etc…Just 10 minutes of breathing and gentle stretches will set the day off right.

Plan your day and meals.

Many people skip meals during the day knowing that they will be going to a dinner party in the evening. Unfortunately, this sets people up for failure! You can end up being very cranky “hangry”, fatigued, have low energy levels, and have blood sugars that are out of control. Instead, make sure that you have a good hearty breakfast, lunch and possibly a pre-dinner snack before heading out to your dinner. This will also help you avoid overeating at dinner because your hunger will be controlled.

Focus on your blessings and not the food.

For many people this time of year is all about the food. Chocolates, pies and cookies are everywhere! However, it’s important to pause and reconsider the purpose of this holiday season. It is a time to focus and be with the people you love most and to count all the blessings you have in life right now. Food is meant to be enjoyed during this season but it should not be the focus of what we do. Consider activities such as playing games or going for a walk after dinner to spend time with your friends and families without having to graze on snack foods and desserts all the evening.

Listen to your body and hunger cues.

Listening to your body and hunger is an extremely important mindful eating skill. Before you eat ask yourself why you are eating and whether you are truly hungry or are craving a certain food. Distinguishing between the two is very important and allows you to be mindful of your eating. As you eat your dinner take your time and chew your foods well. Remember you are not in a race! Listen to your body and stop eating when you just start to feel your stomach stretch- avoid getting to the stuffed stage! Being in tune with your body will help you avoid overeating.

Drink water and be mindful of sweetened beverages.

During the busy time of year many people forget to drink water, especially with the cooler months. Water keeps us hydrated and can prevent headaches associated with dehydration. Many people mistaken their thirst for hunger as well. Before grabbing a snack ask yourself if you’ve had water first. Eggnog, alcohol, juice and sodas pack a lot of empty calories- meaning they don’t provide any nutrition yet they are very energy dense. Be mindful of your beverage choices and keep them to a minimal.

I hope you find these strategies practical and I wish you all a happy thanksgiving and holiday season! What strategies do you make sure you follow on a holiday?

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