The holidays are intended to be a season of joy, relaxation and laughter. Unfortunately, for many it is often a month of stress, fatigue, irritability, weight gain and digestive discomfort. There are multiple approaches to help you stay healthy this season, including lifestyle tips, nutrition choices and natural supplementation. Here are a few tips to help you fully enjoy this crazy, yet wonderful time of year!
The Secret to Holiday Survival: Adrenal Support
Chronic stress of any kind puts us in a constant state of “fight or flight” which depletes the body of nutrients and leads to elevated levels of the hormone cortisol, taxing the adrenals. Not only does this negatively affect our ability to manage stress, it can wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels, weight gain, immunity, mood and more! Adrenal stress has a long list of symptoms including fatigue, depression, cold hands/feet, dizziness, insomnia, cravings, hormonal imbalances (estrogen, thyroid), irritability, headaches, digestive issues, skin problems, etc. Note that factors such as caffeine, high sugar/refined diets, alcohol, smoking, toxins, and dehydration also weaken the adrenals.
Fortunately, there is help available to reduce cortisol levels and regulate stress hormones. Adaptogens are herbs that assist the body in adapting to stress by supporting the adrenal glands. They have a normalizing effect and help the body maintain a constant internal state. Your ability to adapt to long term stressors depends on optimal function of the adrenal glands and cortisol regulation!
Ingredients for stress/sleep management:
Adaptogens – Siberian ginseng, rhodiola, ashwagandha, suma, schizandra, holy basil, etc.
Calming Herbs – Kava, Valerian, Chamomile, Skullcap, Lemon Balm, Passionflower
Key Stress Nutrients- Vitamin C, B Vitamins and Magnesium (anti-stress mineral)
L-Theanine – amino acid found in tea leaves that promotes a relaxed, focused state (reduces nervousness, scattered thoughts) and improves quality of sleep
Melatonin – addresses sleep disturbances, difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and waking too early, improves sleep quality and duration
GABA – fast acting relief from acute stress, quickly restores mental calmness, controls stress-related eating and food cravings.
Ingredients for mood/appetite control:
5 HTP – enhances serotonin (“happy hormone”), improves mood and sleep, reduces appetite & cravings, and increases energy levels.
Chirositol – enhances serotonin, balances blood sugar, control appetite, reduces cravings.
PGX – reduces food cravings, produces feelings of fullness, controls and balances blood sugar levels, and reduces the glycemic index of meals by up to 60%!
White Kidney Bean (Phaseolus Vulgaris) – acts as a starch and fat blocker, stopping some of the excess calories from adding to expanding fat cell accounts.
Green Coffee Bean – acts as a fat burner and helps prevent fat accumulation.
Garcinia Cambogia – reduces appetite, curbs food cravings, inhibits the conversion of carbohydrates into fat, increases fat burning.
Ingredients for digestive support:
Digestive Enzymes- help break down large meals, or specific foods to prevent gas/bloating/indigestion. Consider a formula with HCL for those with low stomach acid.
Bitter Herbs- ease uncomfortable symptoms of indigestion, help the liver digest fatty foods, stimulate digestion to lessen feelings of fullness or gas and are used as a mild laxative.
Food Selection – as much as possible, try to fill up your plate with the whole, natural foods (meats, eggs, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds) and limit processed foods, refined sugars/carbs, caffeine and alcohol. Always ensure to include protein and fibre at each meal to balance blood sugar, keeping energy levels steady and cravings under control. Also, make water your drink of choice.
Eating Tips – eat regularly so you don’t show up anywhere starving, think rationally before making your plate, chew well and eat mindfully, re-evaluate seconds, don’t sit by the snack table and focus on socializing more than the food.
Moderation Rule – don’t deprive yourself completely, we all have a guilty pleasure or two this time of year, and that’s ok! However, it is not necessary to try everything that is available to you. It may help to set guidelines before heading into social gatherings to prepare yourself for what you will allow yourself to enjoy. Choose your indulgences carefully in an appropriate portion, thoroughly love every bite and then put your fork away.
Have Fun & Laugh - make sure you take time to do something you enjoy. Curling up with a hot drink and watching a classic holiday movie is often a favorite.
Sleep Well – despite the demands of the season, aim to get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep as much as possible. A good night’s rest can significantly improve your ability to function.
Exercise Regularly – don’t underestimate the power of doing a little something every day. A half hour walk can make the world of a difference.
Breathe Deep – intentionally stop to take 10 deep breaths at least 3 times throughout the day.
Get Organized – taking some time to plan and strategize your day, week or month can help you use time and energy more efficiently. Charts and lists can be great this time of year!
Set Priorities – decide what is most important to get done and accept that certain things may have to get pushed aside temporarily until things slow down. Make realistic, short-term goals and tackle the toughest, biggest jobs first.
Don’t Be Afraid To Delegate – asking for help is sometimes very hard to do, however, dependency on others is an essential part of life and the sooner we do this, the less stress we will carry on our shoulders.
Consider Acupuncture – this works very well for stress, mild anxiety, fatigue and insomnia.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.