Tis the season for indulging! It feels so rainy and cold outside, that it can be really hard to stick to a healthy diet until January 1st rolls around.  I want to give you some tips to stay ahead of the holiday season and keep you on track even before the New Year rolls in. 

Carbohydrate cravings during the winter can come on quite strong! Part of the reason for this is your body is adjusting to the dark, long winter days. Carbohydrates actually help create serotonin and melatonin which supports a calm mood and restful sleep.  Instead of cutting out a whole food group, try introducing complex carbohydrates like squash, whole grain rice, and root vegetables like carrots to help curb those cravings.  Try to avoid anything too packaged or processed including baked goods, as these tend to be full of more sugar and artificial additives. Support your mood with minerals instead of draining your energy with sugar.  

I think it is really important to not stress on the actual holiday about food. If you eat a larger meal one day, it won’t set you back a whole year. Let yourself indulge a little and stop eating if you feel full, enjoy each bite, and have some fun with family or friends. No one can stick to a healthy diet every single day, and your body likes to take a break once in a while. It is possible to choose fresh fruit, vegetables that are high fiber and lean protein for the most part, and keep the alcohol and sugar limited. 

Speaking of alcohol, this is a really easy way for empty calories to add up.  Try mixing up the holiday cocktails with sparkling water, fresh cranberries and rosemary herbs, and limiting how many drinks you have in one sitting.  Herbal tea or warm spiced cider also make great alternatives. Part of socializing can be holding something in your hand, in which case you can carry a special glass filled with a “mocktail” of your choice to fit right in. 

It really can help you stay engaged in the present moment by eating or drinking more slowly, and focusing on the quality time you are spending with people you care about. 

It is so easy to fall off the fitness plan during the rainy season, since many enjoyable activities are spent outside.  If you have space, you can make room for an indoor bike or use a floor mat routine with small weights (or water bottles) for exercise. I like to check the weather to see the days that are the clearest for running or biking outside. Hopefully it will be a great ski season, and that is another great form of exercise as well. 

 I hope these tips get you started on a healthy routine even before January 1st rolls around!  

Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic primary care provider at Tree of Health Medicine in Woodinville, WA. Go to www.treeofhealthmedicine.com to learn more. 

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