Episode 014: Navigating the Holidays Mindfully
While I fully believe in enjoying the holiday season, I don’t think that you need to overindulge yourself, especially if you’re dealing with a health issue and you know that certain foods trigger your symptoms.
But if you have been dealing with a health issue and you avoid certain foods because of it, I also don’t believe that you need to feel so deprived that you can’t enjoy this season either.
There are strategies that you can use to enjoy the holidays without compromising your health. There’s no reason to skip parties or feel so restricted.
About this time last year, I ran a “Healthy Through the Holidays” Challenge, so in this episode, I’m sharing a few of the tips from that challenge, specifically, five tips to help you navigate the holiday season - mindfully.
These tips can be used for any event you’re going to, whether it’s a wedding, a cocktail party, work event, or any other social gathering.
Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...
Here in the United States, this week we’re celebrating Thanksgiving, and this officially marks the arrival of the holiday season.
Now I love the holidays. Not only is it my birthday, but it’s also the season for joy and giving, and for lots of celebrating at holiday parties and get-togethers with friends and family. And there’s no shortage of good food and lots of holiday treats.
While I fully believe in enjoying the holiday season, I don’t think you that need to overindulge yourself, especially if you’re dealing with a health issue and you know that certain foods trigger your symptoms and make you feel less than your best.
But if you have been dealing with a health issue and avoid certain foods, I also don’t believe that you need to feel so deprived that you can’t enjoy this season either.
I believe that there are strategies that you can use to enjoy the holidays without compromising your health. There’s no reason to skip parties or feel so restricted.
About this time last year, I ran a “Healthy Through the Holidays” Challenge, so in this episode, I’d like to share with you a few of the tips from that challenge, specifically, five tips to help you navigate the holiday season - mindfully.
As a bonus to this episode, over on the show notes, I have a free download for you - for a Holiday Recovery Guide if you do feel that you need a reset. This guide includes a daily protocol and four days worth of straightforward recipes that are very easy to make.
Now let’s get to these five tips for navigating the holiday season. I’m structuring these tips into three scenarios:
- What to do before your holiday event
- What to do during your holiday event
- And what to do after your holiday event
And although I’m sharing these tips for a holiday party, these tips can easily be used for any event you’re going to, whether it’s a wedding, a cocktail party, work event, or any other social gathering.
So let’s dive in:
TIP #1: BEFORE you go to your party - PLAN AHEAD If possible, find out what foods and drinks will be served so you’ll know ahead of time how to prepare.
If you’re going to a get-together, bring a dish to share. Don’t be afraid to call the host ahead of time and offer to bring a plate that you can share with the other guests. This isn’t being rude; it’s taking care of yourself, so you can spend your energy on having a good time and not worry about how you’ll feel after you eat. Your host will probably be appreciative of it because it’s one less dish they’ll have to make and they’ll want all of their guests to be able to enjoy themselves and have a good time.
You can also pack a healthy snack. This is a regular strategy of mine. I’ll throw in snacks like nuts or a Lara Bar into my handbag so that I always have something on hand to snack on.
Don’t show up hungry. Always eat a small meal before you go to a dinner or party. If you show up starving you’ll be likely to wolf down everything in sight, am I right?! Some of my favorite mini-meals that I eat to tie me over and keep me from overindulging are:
- Turkey slices with avocado
- Non-dairy yogurt with raw nuts
- A green smoothie
- A cup of soup
- Gluten-free or grain-free crackers with hummus
- Any snack that has some protein, veggies, and healthy fats will keep you satiated for a long time.
TIP #2: WHILE YOU’RE AT YOUR HOLIDAY PARTY, KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED Focus on drinking lots of water before loading up your plate with food. In fact, if you’re finding yourself craving sugar and salt, your body is likely depleted in minerals. So drink a tall glass of water with lemon to replenish yourself.
Now I don’t drink alcohol, but if you are toasting the holiday with a glass of bubbly or red wine, then drink a glass of water before and after your cocktail.
Another option is to drink a lemon water elixir before you head out AND the morning after.
Lemon Water Elixir: 8 ounces coconut water A capful raw apple cider vinegar A small piece of fresh ginger And the juice from one lemon
You’ll want to mix, and then stir or shake all of the ingredients and sip. The raw apple cider vinegar will enhance your digestive enzymes, while the coconut water will mineralize your body. As you drink this elixir, take five deep breaths. Deep breathing calms your nervous system and reduces stress levels naturally.
TIP #3 - SAY NO (MOST OF THE TIME)
We’re all human. There’s no way we’re going to make it through an entire season of parties and holiday treats saying NO every single time. Nor should you.
That kind of extreme mentality is what leaves us feeling emotionally deprived and makes us inclined to binge.
The last thing we want is to feel so frustrated and deprived that we show up to a party and say screw it, “I’m eating everything!”
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the 80/20 rule, mostly because I’m not a moderator, I’m an abstainer. Perhaps you’re better at moderating than I am. But even if you are an abstainer, you can still indulge - just don’t overindulge!
Focus on filling most of your plate with healthy, nourishing food, but allow yourself some leeway to enjoy a treat or two.
And what would be even better would be to enjoy healthier versions of your favorite holiday treats. They’re so much easier to find or even make these these days, from even just a few years ago! In fact, I have a few Pinterest boards that I’ll link to in the show notes with healthy treats - which I find taste even better than the original versions. And it’s great because I don’t feel guilty about it - at all!
Now I love pies. I’m not a fan of cakes or even cookies all that much. But pies I love! Apple pie is my all-time favorite, and I know I will be enjoying a slice of gluten-free apple pie and gluten-free bourbon pecan pie on Thanksgiving - because I’m the one bringing it to dinner! And when I eat them, I’m going to focus on savoring every bite of the flavors - not inhaling it. And this brings us to Tip #4:
TIP #4 - SAVOR THE FLAVORS
Savoring the flavor in every bites not only helps us slow down our eating, which is, in turn, helps our digestion, but it can also help with moderation and paying attention to portion sizes, which can go a long way to keeping us healthy and feeling good.
To savor the flavor, check in with yourself before you take a bite:
When you make a few moments to turn inward before you start eating, ask yourself: Have I practiced self-compassion and practiced self-care today? Have I slowed down and addressed my emotions?
If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, take a few moments to do some deep breathing. You want always to eat when you are a calm and relaxed state - when your parasympathetic nervous system is activated. When your parasympathetic nervous system is activated, you’re in a “rest and digest” state, and this is optimal for digestion. The opposite of this is your sympathetic nervous system which is activated when you are in a “flight or fight” mode. And more often than not, this is the mode that we’re in.
But we also need to be able to be in a rest and digest state, especially when we’re eating. Sometimes this can be hard to do. If you find it challenging to tap into, feel free to step away and excuse yourself to the restroom. Take just a few minutes to practice some deep breathing. Taking the time to check-in with your body and slow down will help you avoid overeating and help your body to properly digest your food.
Ask about healthy options:
Don’t be afraid to talk with the host, your server or anyone planning the menu about healthy foods for your holiday events.
You might feel nervous asking. You might be afraid of what people may think. You might think you're a pain, but you’re not. You’re being mindful and taking care of yourself and setting yourself up for success. And you may not be the only one who has special dietary needs. And like I said earlier, the host or organizer will probably appreciate you asking.
Staying healthy through the holidays isn’t only about the plate of food. A truly happy holiday season is about being present in the moment. And that also includes having compassion on ourselves. Here are some mantras you can repeat to yourself:
- I deserve to enjoy my life.
- I deserve to step away from a stressful situation to focus on myself for 5 minutes.
- I deserve to enjoy celebrating the company of my friends and family.
Just as you savor the flavor, practice mindfulness and savor the moments.
The food that you choose to eat is a reflection of your life and what is happening inside and around you. Savor your life.
TIP #5 - AFTER THE FESTIVITIES: DE-BLOAT & RESET - IF YOU NEED TO
Sometimes, regardless of our best intentions, we can still feel bloated, tired, and less-than-amazing once the party’s over, especially if you’re dealing with compromised health. Use the opportunity to take notes on what things might have triggered your discomfort. You always want to have your detective hat on and make a note of these things - they give you clues into just what’s going on.
But to deal with any uncomfortable symptoms, it’s essential to have some healthy tools in your toolbox to nip them in the bud and get back on track to feeling great.
You’ll want to focus on flushing toxins out of your body that leads to bloating and fatigue.
Here are my three favorite ways to de-bloat and reset the day after.
- Remember that lemon water elixir I mentioned earlier? Drink it the morning after your party.
- If you’re still feeling bloated in the evening, drink an alkalizing chlorophyll drink. Add one tablespoon of chlorophyll to 12 ounces of water with the juice of one lemon and drink. And if you aren’t sure what chlorophyll is, it’s a green, liquid superfood, usually found in the supplements section of Whole Foods, at any natural food store, or even on Amazon.
- In addition to drinking these drinks, be sure also to move your body.
Exercise is one of the best ways to cleanse your body and remove toxins. Take a brisk walk, hit the gym, or go for a run. Sweating helps the body to eliminate toxins through the skin.
- Tip #1 - Before you go to your party, plan ahead
- Tip #2 - While you’re at your holiday festivity, keep yourself hydrated
- Tip #3 - Say “no” - most of the time
- Tip #4 - Savor the flavors
- Tip #5 - Debloat and reset - if you need to
Don’t forget to also head on over to the show notes for this episode at www.livefablife.com/014 and get your free PDF download of my Holiday Recovery Guide. This guide has a daily protocol and simple, healthy meals to reset yourself if you need to.
Now I want to give you a sneak peak of Episodes 015, 016, 017, 018, 019.
While this is a joyous time of year, let’s be honest, it can also be a stressful one.
There’s a lot going on with the holiday parties, keeping up with traditions, travel, work might be extra busy as you close out the year, even being with extended family can also be stressful and stir up some old feelings - and if you’re an introvert like I am, being around people for an extended period of time can be exhausting.
So for next few episodes, I’ve invited some pretty amazing people to come on the show. Each person offers different perspectives and strategies on how to manage stress - in all the different form of stress that we experience.
This the time of year that we naturally turn inward, especially as we turn the page to a new year - so I hope that these next five shows will offer some insight to help you through that process.
You guys, these interviews are so good and I’m so excited to share them with you. I hope you’ll tune in to hear them.
For those of you in the US, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and I’ll catch you on the next episode of the Live FAB Life Podcast.
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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.