• Meira Arkell

How To Not Feel Like Crap This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and one thing is certain - tis the season of indulgence. Since I'm a lover of good food and wine, I too like to indulge, but I don't like feeling like crap when it's all said and done. Weeks on end of overeating, eating unhealthy foods, eating way more sugar than normal, and drinking too much alcohol can leave you exhausted, moody, gaining weight and dealing with serious cravings for sugar and carbs, which leads to nothing good.

Over the past few weeks my clients have been confiding in me that they are concerned about the holiday season. There's a sense of stress about how to keep things on an even keel when there are indulgences all around. Since I don't believe in deprivation, I don't want anyone feeling guilty about the choices they make during the holiday season as so many of the foods we eat are comforting and deeply entrenched family traditions. This is a time of year for enjoying your family and all the foods that bring you together but you want to enjoy without all the negative consequences that come along with a long period of overindulgence! So what can you do to keep your health on point this holiday season? Here are my tips for keeping you healthy and balanced and feeling great throughout the holiday season:

1. Drink WaterI know, this is obvious but everyone struggles with drinking enough water. You literally cannot do life well without being hydrated. It's critical to feeling well and keeping toxins and waste moving out of your body. Because you are likely to be drinking more alcohol than usual and eating more sugar and inflammatory foods, water helps to move all the bad stuff out of your body. Not good at remembering to drink water? I hear you. Major issue for me too. My top tip is to just keep an eye on your urine. Yup, just look at your pee. If it's medium to dark yellow, you need to drink a full glass of water. If it's light yellow to clear, you are well hydrated. Also, start your day with a full glass of water (before coffee).

2. Don't Skip BreakfastI know you've heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's actually true. I lived more than half my life without breakfast until I went to nutrition school and learned what I was doing to my body. Eating breakfast is important for keeping your blood sugar stable which starts you off on the best foot and allows you to be able to actually make healthier food choices throughout the day. Tip - skip the simple carbs at breakfast (like bagels, toast, muffins and cereal) and go for a higher fat and protein rich breakfast (think eggs and bacon or a nut and seed granola).

3. Eat Your VeggiesVegetables are the best source of fibre and fibre is what helps you to get rid of toxins. For real! Your liver is your master detoxifying organ but it doesn't do the job alone. When you eat vegetables, the fibre is what toxins bind to and it's what carries them out of your body (in your poop). There is no end to the benefit of having lots of veggies in your diet but it's critical when you are in indulgence mode in order to keep things balanced and keep waste moving out of the body (ahem... too much alcohol). Tip - aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables (lettuce, kale, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini etc.).

4. Add A Balanced Smoothie to Your DietDo this either as your breakfast or a snack. It's the perfect way to get in your antioxidants, fibre and healthy fats if getting balanced nutrition is something you struggle with. Here's my go-to formula for a high fat, moderate protein smoothie that is perfect as a breakfast replacement:

Note - if you are on a ketogenic diet, reduce berries to 1/2 cup maximum and remove banana.

Berry Breakfast Smoothie

1/2 cup wild blueberries

1/2 cup of another type of berry (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)

1/2 banana

1/4 avocado

3 tbsp hemp seeds

1 tbsp flax seeds

1 - 1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk or water.

Ice, as needed

Natural or Vanilla powder - optional

Blend and enjoy!

5. Choose Low Sugar Alcohol and Drink Water In Between DrinksDrinking water in between alcoholic beverages will cut down on the amount of alcohol you actually drink and will help your body to get rid of the alcohol. FYI - your liver prioritizes the metabolism of alcohol because it's a toxin. If you drink more water, you help the process along which will leave you feeling better overall. In terms of types of alcoholic drinks, stick to the following:

  • Low sugar wines (those that have around 2g sugar per glass - the dryer, the better....champagne is a great option by the way).

  • Vodka or Gin with soda and lemon/ lime - 0g/L sugar

  • Dry martini 0g/L sugar

  • Social Lite Lime Ginger (pre-mixed vodka and soda without any sugar) 0g/L sugar

6. Try Baking Healthier Versions of Your Favourite Holiday Treats

We all love our tried and true recipes but why not mix things up this year and make a few things with healthier ingredients? You might surprise yourself that healthier versions (without refined sugar or wheat) of some of your favourites actually taste just as good, not to mention, you can eat a few more! Leave me your name and email address below and I'll send you my Health Holiday Treat Recipes!

7. Keep Stress In CheckI know this is a hard one for some people when you are forced to spend time with family members with whom you have complex emotional histories. There is no better time to take a good look at your personal boundaries and what you allow yourself to be subjected to. Besides deciding in some instances that the stress isn't worth it, and making alternate plans, prepare yourself by understanding how stress affects you and take some steps to mitigate it. This might mean practicing mindfullness, doing yoga or whatever else helps you relax and calm your nervous system.

8. Spend Time in NatureSounds hokey but there is nothing more healing and balancing than walking through a forest or by a lake or simply just being outside. Bundle up and get outside this holiday season!

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