Season’s Eatings…oops, Greetings!

Hot cocoa with whipped cream and warm apple filling

Simmering recipes and foods meant for grilling

Warm cookie packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things

Tis the season for some of the most delicious foods and flavors of the year. And for some of us, these foods also bring with it stress and anxiety; the stress and anxiety of the “all or nothing” thoughts that can sabotage our efforts of healthier eating during the holiday season. It is much healthier to separate ourselves from this way of thinking and aim to have more realistic goals and expectations during this time. Having a collection of tips and tricks to manage our holiday eating habits, can also help to lower the level of stress and anxiety we may experience. Read on to find some tips that may work for you.

  • Be sure to continue efforts of eating regularly. It is best not to skip regularly planned meals and snacks in an attempt to enjoy your favorite meals or treats. Enjoy your regularly planned meals and snacks AND your favorite treat or meal too. Depriving yourself of food leading up to the meal or snack will often result in slow metabolism, difficulty controlling blood sugars, unpredictable moodiness, increased fatigue, and possible overeating. Also be sure to keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day.
  • Try to avoid overeating. Listen closely to your body’s cues and practice mindful eating. Keep in tune to how your stomach is physically feeling throughout the meal and aim to stop eating when you begin to feel satiated or satisfied. Another part that is helpful in avoiding overeating is being mindful as to what you fill your plate with and making smart choices.
  • Make smart choices. Before beginning to fill your plate at the meal, take a moment to consider all the food choices. You may decide to completely forgo your least favorite foods and opt to take smaller portions of your favorites. You might also think about filling half your plate with fruit and/or vegetables first. When also considering your meal choices, think about what you might like to have after your meal too. Dessert is often a wonderful treat that all should take the pleasure in enjoying this time of the year, should they want to. To practice mindfully, do you take a smaller slice of pie? Go without whipped topping? Create a healthier concoction all your own? Or perhaps dessert is the “crème de la crème” for you and you made smarter meal choices so that you can enjoy dessert to the fullest…then you should do just that.
  • Enjoy your meal, your company, and your blessings. After an interesting 2020, take the time to enjoy the meal and time with your loved ones or whomever you may be spending your time or meal with. Slow down and “drink it all it”, put your fork down between each bite, partake in the conversations with others, and if able, wait about 15 minutes before deciding if you want to return for second helpings of food. Let your digestion begin its work. 
  • If possible, include exercise as part of your holiday fun/plans. Not a requirement but a gentle suggestion. Finding a way to move often makes anyone feel a little cheerier, due to the release of endorphins (the “happy” hormone). During this holiday season, consider taking a walk, seeking out the nearest sledding hill, trying ice skating, building a snowman, trying yoga/Pilates/qigong at home, or playing some basketball.
  • Enjoy the holidays! At the end of day, if concerns about healthy eating during the holidays is too overwhelming for you, then let it be. Always remember that one of the most important parts about this season is enjoying the memories you make with loved ones (even when the memories of this year look quite different from others). 

By Keri Smith, RD

Holidays Got You Down?

Many people can experience feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season. People who already live with a mental health condition should take extra care to tend to their overall health and wellness during this time.  Extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even sentimental memories that accompany the season can be a catalyst for the holiday blues. Some can be at risk for feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss.  A lot of seasonal factors can trigger the holiday blues such as, less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, alcohol at parties, over-commercialization or the inability to be with friends or family. These are all factors that can seriously affect your mood.

Via nami.org

 

Healthy Recipes: Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Total: 30 min

Prep: 10 min

Cook: 20 min

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, from the pepper can

Directions

Put the sweet potatoes in a steamer basket and put the steamer in a large pot of simmering water that is 1 inch from the bottom of the basket. Cover and steam over medium-high heat for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.

Remove the steamer basket, pour the water out of the pot and dump the sweet potatoes into the pot. Add the butter and salt and mash with a potato masher. Add the chile and sauce and continue mashing to combine. Serve immediately.

 

Post-Holiday Depression

Presents have been unwrapped; cookies cooked and consumed, memories of joy on faces remain in your phone. But now that the festivities are over and it’s time to start taking down the lights, are you feeling down? It’s no surprise that the decrease in celebration and excitement can certainly affect moods, causing disappointment or even sadness. “It’s not an uncommon phenomenon, so if you are feeling that way, you are not alone,” says Martha Nelson, CHAS Health Behavioral Health Provider.

 

Causes:

  • Busyness – It’s a crazy hectic time of year. You just finished having so many people to get the perfect present for, the perfect meals, and attended too many functions. It’s such a wonderful time, but also, exhausting. Coming down from the busyness and hype is tough.
  • Family – Family is the best! Family is the worst! All kinds of feelings come up during the holiday season and it can certainly take an emotional toll. Do you have family members that are stressful to be around? “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” most definitely applies here. Even the most incredible families can cause some levels of exhaustion.
  • Memories – Holidays bring past memories, and often a sense of nostalgia for good times that have passed and loved ones that may be gone.
  • Fatigue – Fatigue is a common contributing factor for holiday depression. It can be a packed time of year, with normal routines and exercise out the window. Additionally, it’s cold outside (and so warm under the blankets). No wonder you can feel fatigued. It’s the time of year I personally put off a lot of things in exchange for sleeping in or going to sleep early.
  • Sugar and food – So many good treats! So many good foods! During this time of year, there is so much to eat, drink, and be merry with. It’s easy to go overboard, throw your routine out the window, and over eat (or under eat if you swap eating something good in order to splurge on a dessert). The amounts of blood sugar spikes can lead you feeling crabby, hungry and a little bit sad.

 

Ideas to help cope with post-holiday depression:

  • Take what you enjoyed during the holidays and continue it throughout the year. If you enjoyed spending time with friends and family, invite them over soon for a meal, play some games, or watch a movie.
  • Have fun! Go to a movie, see a play, go to the Museum of Arts and Culture, ski or do some tubing at Mt. Spokane.
  • Start or continue your exercise routine. Sometimes exercise goes out the window during the holidays (sometimes it goes out the window well before the holidays too). But, now is a perfect time to re-start or get in to a new routine. Include a buddy so you have company and someone you look forward to hanging out with and to hold each other accountable.
  • If you’ve gained weight, don’t worry about it. There were a lot of good treats around. No regrets. It doesn’t mean you are weak, worthless, or irresponsible, it means there were some awesome cookies around…gotta live a little. Right? However, it’s never too late to get back on track with a healthy eating plan.
  • Plan something each week to look forward to.
  • Take care of yourself, including eating well (don’t confuse this with not eating), exercising and getting enough sleep. Have a good attitude as well; it’s easily to slip in to negative notions.
  • If the post-holiday blues hang on for too long, consider reaching out to a behavioral health specialist. Seasonal affective disorder is a legit issue that many people deal with. As we roll in to 2017, remember to make the resolution to highlight health and happiness.

By Matt Grebe and Martha Nelson

Holiday Blues

Many people can experience feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season. People who already live with a mental health condition should take extra care to tend to their overall health and wellness during this time.  Extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even sentimental memories that accompany the season can be a catalyst for the holiday blues. Some can be at risk for feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss.  A lot of seasonal factors can trigger the holiday blues such as, less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, alcohol at parties, over-commercialization or the inability to be with friends or family. These are all factors that can seriously affect your mood.

Via nami.org