HIGHWAY TRAFFIC JAMS, overcrowded shopping centres and ruthless parking lots – it can be near-to-impossible to stay jolly for the holidays. It’s easy to get caught up in the consumerism and obligations of our favourite time of year and feel a whole lot of worry, instead of cheer. The stress and physical challenges of holiday preparations can take their toll and next thing you know, we’re reaching for that extra glass of wine, Christmas cookie or party snack and feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
Part of the fun of the holidays is letting loose – giving yourself permission to indulge in treats and libations that you otherwise steer clear of. This is where bitters come in handy. Bitters are a class of aromatic herbs, bark, roots, and/or fruit that are used for their digestive properties. They improve digestion and elimination by stimulating all digestive secretions: saliva, acids, enzymes, hormones and bile. This is particularly helpful when eating naughty foods. Simply enjoy digestive bitters before or after meals. They can also help to curb sugar cravings and balance blood sugar if taken between meals.
HERBS, HERBS, HERBS
Herbs, just like essential oils, have the ability to change our physiological state. That means that they can act as a natural Prozac or Xanax, taking the edge off when we most desperately need it. To reduce irritability and anxiety (without sleepiness), try these herbs: ashwagandha, cordyceps, rehmannia, duanwood reishi, gynostemma, duanwood reishi, eleuthero, astragalus, schizandra, Tibetan rhodiola and L-theanine (the amino acid). Start taking the herbs early because they can take about a month to kick in.
We all know it well, the feeling you get when you’ve forgotten to eat and any and everything that gets in your way completely unhinges you. Say hello to low blood sugar. Surprisingly, a majority of conflicts, challenges and unpleasant situations could be remedied by eating food first. When your blood sugar drops (from skipping a meal or eating a processed, sugary, high-carb meal/snack), your mood crashes. That is why it’s imperative to never miss a meal and to always travel with healthy snacks in your car and bag. This will not only prevent you from reaching for the bad stuff, but will help keep you sane. Blood-sugar-balancing snacks include those that have a healthy fat, protein and carbohydrate, like dried figs and nut butter, beet chips and tahini, or an egg with a handful of non-GMO popcorn.
CHANNEL THE DALAI LAMA
When in doubt and in need, channel the Dalai Lama. One of our favorite tricks for dusting off a bad mood is doing a good deed. The act of doing something nice, considerate and thoughtful for someone else instantly improves your mood. Believe us, it works. Let someone in in traffic, open a door, offer a warm smile and hello, give an unexpected compliment (they will never see it coming!), let someone go first, have patience with stressful or challenging people… Besides, what are the holidays all about anyways?
Nothing grounds you and cleans the sugar cookies out of the system like a juice cleanse. Try doing a one-day juice cleanse over the holidays to get back in control. Choose juices rich in dark leafy greens to boost your vitamins, and mineral-rich veggies like cucumber and celery to hydrate the body. Fresh-pressed vegetable juice also contains naturally-cleansing properties, helping the liver to clear any toxins.
With days spent shopping, cooking and cleaning, the hours that you spend on your feet can quickly add up. It’s no wonder that an achy back, swollen ankles and fatigued muscles become a normal state of being over the long winter months. One of the best ways to recover is with an infrared heating pad. Infrared is a type of heat that warms the body from the inside out. The deep penetrating heat from the pad is absorbed by the body, gently warming muscles and tissues. This process provides a temporary increase to local blood circulation, thus offering relief of muscle and joint pain, especially in the low back. It can also help reduce swelling and fatigue. Grab an infrared heating pad, crawl under the covers, and indulge in a little holiday R&R.
After a long day of shopping there is nothing more appealing than soaking in a piping hot bathtub. The hot water helps to soothe the muscles, while the solitude allows us to unwind from the day. Take it to the next level by adding in a detoxifying clay bath powder. Look for one that contains a natural clay, sea salt and seaweed. The clay helps to unburden the body from toxins such as environmental irritants, overindulgence and technological pollution, while the salt and seaweed nourish the skin and re-mineralize the body.
START WITH GREENS
One of our favorite tricks for staying slim and sane during the holiday season is eating greens for breakfast. Throw loads of bitter greens into a blender to make a superfood smoothie, or put together a salad with a poached egg on top. Eating greens in the morning puts you on the right track, encouraging you to make better choices all day long – and greens are packed with nutrients and fiber, which keep you feeling satiated longer. Besides, even if you indulge later, at least your morning started off right!
Many unhealthy holiday foods contain toxic fats that not only lead to weight gain, but clog our arteries, damage our cells and congest the liver. The good news is that when the body is given the option of utilizing a healthy fat over an unhealthy fat, such as trans fatty acids, research has shown that it will choose the healthy fat. For that very reason it is imperative to take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement when you eat. This will protect the body from the bad fats. Omega-3s also help the body manage inflammation, build healthy cells, improve memory and prevent anxiety and depression.