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  • Writer's pictureSarah Strong

5 Steps to Happy, Healthy Holidays

Ahhh... the holidays. Turkey, chocolate, wine, wrapping paper, holiday parties, and anxiety... lots and lots of anxiety. Gorge, regret, gorge, regret, say "when January comes I will make up for it". It happens. This holiday season, perhaps we can take a different approach. Let's enjoy every. single. bite. of. food. Yup, that's right. Love it. Savor it. Don't feel one single ounce of guilt. Just follow these simple steps and bring a little aloha to your holiday meals


Here's the deal- stress while eating "naughty" food is a double whammy! When you are stressed your body goes in to sympathetic, or "fight or flight" mode. This means your body is NOT in parasympathetic mode (AKA "rest and digest" mode). Soooo.... you are eating and your body is not digesting and your anxiety hormones are flowing. You won't process it the way you should, you will get more bloating, diarrhea, and other gut issues and all for nothing!


A common bumper sticker here in Hawaii is "Slow Down- This Ain't the Mainland". Well, even if you are on the mainland you can still take this approach when it comes to holiday meals. If you eat too quickly, you won't realize you are full until you are well beyond full. Eating slowly gives your brain time to catch up with your stomach and realize it has reached capacity. Just the simple act of talking, relaxing, and savoring each bite will cut your calories immensely at holiday meals.


My clients are always told that 95% of their diet should be good for their bodies, and the other 5% should be good for their soul. Pile on the good stuff first, then enjoy that 5% at the end guilt free. Fruits and veggies can be beautiful, healthy, and delicious. Instead of focusing on what you shouldn't be eating, enjoy the foods you should be eating.


Ok, don't make fun of me... I know I have no right using this pidgin phrase and I promise I will never say it out loud! It just fits right in, though- keep your dinner plate small! It's so simple and helps immensely with those who tend to overeat. Use a dessert plate and before going back for seconds only after waiting for 10 minutes. This will also help send those "full" signals before you go too far.


Perhaps the easiest way to make it through the holidays without buying stretchy pants is to focus on the other aspects of the season. Enjoy what the outdoors has to offer, whether it's beach time or skiiing. Do crafts. While I whole-heartedly appreciate and love most foods and will rarely pass down one of my friend Lena's amazing peanut butter balls (which journey across land and sea to me from NY state every year) it can get to be a bit much by the time the new year rolls around. Let's remember what this season is really about- family and appreciation.

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