Once the calendar flips to November, we start to think of all of the things we have left to do before the year ends. There are work and project deadlines, planning for the New Year, and end of year goals we set for ourselves back in January; there are also family get-togethers, parties, and other holiday celebrations. All of those extra events typically lead to more stress. How do you typically respond to that stress? Do you overeat? Or do you stop eating altogether? And how do you handle yourself during all of those extra celebrations and parties? Do you over-indulge and then feel guilty the following days? Do you over-indulge and then allow yourself to completely fall off track?
The holidays should be a time of celebration, but you don’t want to spend that time exhausted and worn-out. Instead of stressing about over-eating or under-eating at different parties and events, think about how to use nutrition to support your health throughout the holidays and the winter season as a whole. High levels of stress increase your need for nutrients. Focusing on high-quality, nutrient-dense foods gives your body the energy it needs to deal with the “end-of-the-year scaries” and helps you stay on track throughout the holidays. Make sure to include the following foods and nutrient groups in your meals and snacks this holiday season.
· Antioxidant-rich foods help fight free radicals in your body. These free radicals can cause cellular damage; antioxidants work by stabilizing free radicals and keeping them from causing cellular damage. Antioxidant rich foods include fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C and vitamin E. Choose in-season produce for the freshest foods.
o Apples, oranges, pomegranates, kiwi, onions, winter squash, sweet potatoes, or dark leafy greens
· Stay hydrated. Dehydration is a common problem during the cooler months. Dehydration affects mental clarity and can cause fatigue and headaches.
o Aim for ½ oz. per pound of body weight of unsweetened beverages each day (water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea).
· Further fight inflammation by increasing your intake of healthy fats, specifically omega-3s.
o ¼ cup walnuts, 3 oz. cooked cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, herring)
At Texins, we believe in an 80/20 approach to nutrition. Eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods 80% of the time and enjoy those “less-healthy foods” 20% of the time. With seven weeks between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, there are 30 different opportunities to enjoy your “just because” foods. This leaves over 100 opportunities to eat foods that are nutrient-dense. So take it one meal and one day at a time, and remember that you have numerous opportunities to get back on track and fight end of the year stress with nutrition.