Healthier Holiday Eating

Life is to be enjoyed. The better we take care of ourselves, we will feel much more joy and that is the whole point. Here are a few Chinese Medicine tips for healthy eating.

  1. Start on a HIGH note. Every year before the holidays begin I do a 2 week cleanse which I wrap up a few days before Thanksgiving. Entering the holidays feeling light, energetic, clear minded and in the routine of enjoying & desiring healthy food, greatly influences the food choices that I make.
  2. Don’t skip meals beforehand. Do not fast all day to “save” all of your calories knowing that you will indulge in a Thanksgiving feast. This will most likely lead to overeating.
  3. Keep plate sizes and portions small. Our goal is to avoid overeating and a food coma. This is not healthy for our sensitive bodies & we will not feel good. Choose a method and stick to it. I personally like using a smaller plate with smaller portions because you know if the plate is bigger you will be inclined to fill it. If you do get to the point of discomfort from overindulging there is an excellent Chinese formula called Curing Pills (Ease Digestion Formula, Kang Ning Wan). This is a must-have in my medicine cabinet, which consists of all herbs. I use it for bloating, stomach aches, food poisoning, stomach bugs, food stagnation (overeating) and anything digestion related. It works tremendously well.
  4. Eat 70% vegetables, 30% other foods. And eat those veggies first, (before getting full). Vegetables are high in nutrients and fiber which is a win for overall health.
  5. Savor each delicious bite. It takes 20+ minutes for your brain to get the signal that you’re actually full. By savoring every thoughtfully prepared bite, you’re more likely to take your time and stop when you’ve had enough. In Chinese Medicine it’s recommended to chew each bite 40 times, that might be overkill but you get the point. Digestion begins in our mouth so pace yourself and help your body facilitate healthy digestion.
  6. Drink lots of room temperature water. Cold water weakens the spleen and stomach which can cause indigestion, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and other digestion issues. We often feel hungry because we haven’t consumed enough water. The general rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of room temperature water every day, at the minimum.
  1. Alternate between water and alcohol. If you’re going to drink, try alternating between water and alcohol to minimize intake and stay hydrated. You can also seriously slash your alcohol calories by using seltzer water as a mixer for hard liquor.
  2. Move your body, a lot. Whether you are traveling or staying at home, you can still be active. Pushups, core exercises, squats, tricep dips (use the edge of the bed or tub), lunges, and yoga can be done anywhere. Take a walk or check out a fitness class with your family, these can be opportune times to connect and bond. Go sledding or ice skating. Get creative and have fun with keeping your body moving.
  3. Weigh yourself at the same time daily. Or try on a snug-fitting pair of jeans to gauge the subtle ups, if any. Don’t get obsessive and berate yourself over every ounce gained, but set yourself up to prevent completely letting go of good habits. When you break the rhythm of healthy behaviors you’ve built up you will have to start from scratch. Break the cycle and take care of yourself all the time so you don’t have to start over. Live smart and efficiently.
  4. Enjoy dessert, and be mindful while doing it. Food is a beautiful thing, especially dessert. Have some. Enjoy it. If you want to taste every dessert in attendance, consider a small sampling of each.
  5. Keep up your spiritual practices. Take really good care of yourself during the holidays. It can be a wonderful time but also a trying time. Meditation is so important to me, it keeps me sane, grounded, more present and happier. When I am feeling good, I am less inclined to mindlessly reach for food and drinks. Spiritual health, mental health and physical health are all connected. We can’t have one without the other.

Have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Savor every moment and delicious bite in gratitude.

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