Tips to Healthfully Navigate the Holiday Season

Tips to Healthfully Navigate the Holiday Season

Stress Management

Navigating the holiday season can be tricky! Especially if you’re trying to keep up with your healthy habits.⁠

Rather than throwing in the towel and waiting for January 1st to start all over again, this season is all about maintaining your hard work. Imagine how amazing you will feel come the new year if you’re able to keep up your healthy lifestyle – anything will be possible!

Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season:

Meal plan & prep ahead on the weekend. While I go on about meal planning a lot, I don’t necessarily do it every week. But it is KEY for surviving these busy periods!⁠ Not only will you save money on your grocery bill by being as efficient as possible and minimizing take-away and convenience foods, but you’ll also be getting more more nutritious meals that will keep you full and fuelled for longer. Not to mention the precious weeknight time you’ll save on preparing dinner.

Bring a homemade packed lunch. Not only will you probably save money and cut down on food waste, but you’ll be making sure to get a nutrient-dense lunch in before any evening activities.⁠

Front-load your nutrition. Focus on getting lots of veggies & protein in early in the day, since these will likely be lacking if you’re out for dinner.⁠ That way you can roll with whatever comes in the evening, knowing that you got some solid nutrition in already!

Don’t deny yourself some indulgences! If you’re out at a party, start off with the “healthier” fare, but definitely still go for those cravings as well. The healthier options will fill you up first, helping to ensure you can still have those indulgences mindfully. This way you’re less likely to go overboard. ⁠

Swap out a couple alcoholic drinks for some non-alcoholic cocktails. Keep your alcohol consumption in moderation by, at the least, alternating with a non-alcoholic alternative. There are loads of fancy mocktail possibilities, and I bet most people won’t notice! You’ll definitely thank yourself in the morning when you sleep better and minimize the chance of a hangover.

Prioritize sleep. Sleep is key for recovering and building resiliency to stress. Not to mention this time of year kicks off cold and flu season, so your immune system could do with the boost. Even if sleep comes at the expense of something like exercise, this is a period of the year where this swap is worth it.⁠

Know your non-negotiables for managing stress, and keep up with some form of self-care.⁠ While you might need to cut down on your self-care time to properly balance your schedule, make sure you’re not cutting it out completely! That time to yourself will help you recharge and have more energy to give to everything else that is going on.

Practise saying no when needed. Recognize your limits or propose alternatives when certain requests are just too much.⁠ Everyone is busy at this time of year, so most people will understand if you turn down an invitation. Or think of alternative activities that won’t take all of your energy. Did a friend invite you to a holiday party that you know will be exhausting? Propose meeting for a lunch instead so you still get that time to connect. Or, maybe you want to throw a party of your own to see all your friends in one go, rather than attend a million different functions.

What’s your strategy for approaching this holiday season? Leave a comment and let me know what you’re going to try out!

Stress & Digestion

Stress & Digestion

Stress Management

Have you ever struggled with digestive issues like:

  • excessive fullness
  • acid reflux
  • burping
  • cramps
  • bloating / gas

Within a couple hours of eating a meal?

Digestion is a complex process, but stress can have a big impact on it! Luckily it’s one area that’s pretty easy to actively work on improving.

Digestion starts in the brain, triggering the digestive process to get started. We need to be in a relaxed mode in order to digest our food. So if you’re still in an energetic or stress mode this isn’t going to happen!

Our nervous system has two different states. The sympathetic state, commonly called “fight or flight” is our more energetic, active state. It’s when we’re reacting to things, being physically or mentally active, and also where our system is when we’re stressed. 

The second state is the parasympathetic state, or the “rest and digest” mode. This is where our body rests, recovers, and most importantly (for this blog post!) digests our food. We need to be calm and relaxed in order to be in this state, so you can see how significant this system is on our digestion!

If we’re consuming food but are not in the parasympathetic state, our body will give priority to other tasks before tackling digestion. 

Not only will stress cause our system to not be in the digestion state, but it can also decrease the level of acidity in our stomachs. Having a properly acidic stomach is incredibly important for effectively breaking down our food. This can lead to all of the digestive systems listed above. Plus it puts more burden on the rest of our digestive system to pick up the slack from the stomach.

 

So what can you do?

If you feel stressed or anxious before eating take a few minutes to do some deep breathing and relax your body. Even do a short mediation if you need it!

Don’t eat in front of a screen! Whether it’s the TV, your cell phone, or in front of your computer at work, these all trigger stress responses. Plus your brain won’t be fully registering that you’re eating and therefore not triggering your digestive system properly.

Stay away from stressful conversation at the table. Don’t “talk shop” with your colleagues over lunch or have hard conversations with your partner at dinner. Leave those topics for later!

Slooooow dooooown. Often we eat quickly when we’re stressed, and are therefore not chewing our food enough! Take a beat to count how many chews you do – I bet it’s less than 10! Try and aim for 20-30 chews per mouthful. It will feel tedious at first, but properly chewing our food is the first step of physical digestion and if you skip this part then the rest of your system has to pick up the slack.

 

Proper digestion is one of the foundation elements that I work with clients on. If you’re not digesting your food properly then even the most nutritious diet could be going to waste.

This is just scratching the surface of managing stress and improving your health.

If you’re ready to really invest in making changes, then send in your application now for a free breakthrough session!

Want to learn more about digestion? Check out these other blog posts!

4 Steps to Creating Extra Hours in your Day

4 Steps to Creating Extra Hours in your Day

Stress Management

You’re exhausted and fed up of feeling like for every step forward you take two steps back.

You’re sick of struggling to fall asleep and then dragging yourself out of bed each morning.

You want to get that social life back instead of collapsing on the couch and zoning out every night!

 

Stress could be behind a whole host of things:

  • Weight gain, or having difficult losing weight
  • Hormone imbalances and irregular periods
  • Digestive issues
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Inflammation
  • Nutrient deficiencies

Recognizing stress’ impact is just the first step.

Think of your stress levels like a cup; it fills up slowly, but at a certain point it’s just one drop too much. The goal is to have habits in place that help your avoid ever reaching this overflowing stage.

The first step is to getting your energy back is to evaluate how you’re spending your time. When you’re feeling exhausted and burnt out, daily activities can feel like huge energy sucks. That’s why it’s important to take some time to evaluate everything that requires your energy to see where you can make changes to lighten your load.

Is your schedule full of activities that are lifting you up, or just dragging you down? 

It’s time to get honest with yourself, lay it all out there, and make some changes. Let’s aim for more things that light us up and less that bring us down!

I’ve created a free workbook for you that will take you step-by-step through this process. You’ll review how you’re spending your time, evaluate how it’s impacting you, and come up with an action plan to move forward.

Click the button below to get your hands on it immediately!

Why weight loss shouldn’t be your primary goal

Why weight loss shouldn’t be your primary goal

Stress Management

A couple weeks ago I shared a post about 5 reasons why you might not be losing weight. While I think these are important aspects to consider, I also wanted to share more about my general philosophy around weight loss – and how I don’t think it should be your primary goal.

While many people seek out the help of a nutritionist just for this, I try and steer clients away from placing weight loss at the top of their wish list and help them understand why there are so many other aspects to focus on instead.

Excess weight tends to be a symptom – not the problem

If you are indeed holding on to excess weight (and we’ll come to the discussion of real versus perceived in a minute), it’s often as a symptom of another issue. And it can be that by focusing on the true underlying issue that the excess weight will also stabilize itself naturally.

This could be caused by hormone imbalances, for example estrogen dominance. If your estrogen levels are too high on their own or compared to your other hormones, weight gain can be one of the symptoms experienced. Estrogen can stimulate your fat cells to store more fat, often leading to weight gain in the hips, butt, and thighs and can decrease the amount of thyroid hormone being produced (thus slowing your metabolism).

Your gut health also impacts how effectively your body can rid itself of excess hormones. If you’re experiencing gut issues it may be resulting in excess estrogen hanging around, causing estrogen dominance, and yup, you guessed it, weight gain! Leaky gut or other gut infections, a lack of diverse gut microbiota, inflammation, and other hormonal imbalances are all gut related issues that could cause excess weight or an inability to lose excess weight. 

And, of course, we can’t forget to mention stress! Stress causes our body, through the adrenal glands, to produce cortisol. Chronic stress results in an over production of cortisol which increases inflammation, downregulates our immune system, and notably promotes weight gain in the belly region. An increased cortisol production can also start to steal nutrients from other hormone production processes, creating imbalances in our hormones and a deficiency in some key nutrients. This can lead to strange cravings and a high propensity for over eating or consuming inflammatory foods (such as overconsuming sugary, salty, or greasy foods).

The “ideal weight” is just a social construct

Let’s dive briefly into the mental game of weight and body image. While I’m only going to scratch the surface if this complex topic, it’s always important to be honest about whether or not you actually need to lose weight. Could it be that you just feel pressured by images in the media to conform to what society has deemed the “healthy body”?

If you have abundant energy, feel great, and are overall healthy, then chances are you are already at an ideal weight for your body. Your ideal weight is going to look completely different than someone else’s even if you’re exactly the same age, height, and live similar lifestyles. 

Being overweight itself is not necessarily a health risk. It’s often the other things that go hand in hand with weight gain that are the culprits (poor diet, lack of exercise, too much stress, not enough sleep, etc.). 

It’s also important to note that the stigma attached to being “overweight” is more harmful than the weight itself (whether real excess weight or perceived). This can lead to psychological stress (which our body cannot differentiate from real or physical stress – increasing our cortisol production) and disordered eating behaviours. 

Rather than struggling on your own, trying to tackle excess weight by restrictive and/or fad diets, it’s always best to work with a professional. Having an outside, objective opinion can help give you the perspective you need to proceed in a healthy, sustainable direction.

Click here to learn more about how I work with clients to create their own unique plans to tackle their goals and build healthy habits. 

My Five Foundations for Healthy Living

My Five Foundations for Healthy Living

While I practice nutrition by training, I’m all about a holistic approach. That means I like to look at all aspects of life and how they come to together to create optimal health!

To keep things as simple as possible I’ve broken it down into the 5 key foundations of health, split into nutrition – the layer that everything is supported by – and lifestyle. 

While we’re looking at each aspect separately, it’s really how they all come together that determines how good (or not) we feel. 

Foundation One – Nutrition

While there are so many different ways we can categorize nutrition, I’ve split this up almost along the macronutrient lines. Carbs, fat, protein, and water are our macronutrients (and if you click on any of those labels you’ll go straight to a blog article going into each more in depth!). 

But I just had to split out veggies and give it its own spotlight because they are so. darn. important! They are packed with vital vitamins, minerals, and often antioxidants, and because of this I also consider them our best source of fiber. 

Nutrition really underpins our health which is why I have it as the bottom layer of the pyramid. The majority of our immune system is in our gut and a lot of the neurotransmitter serotonin is also produced there (the happy chemical for our brains!). What we eat affects our energy levels and allows our body to build and maintain healthy tissues. 

Honestly, I could go on and on about how important nutrition is! But I’m hoping since you’re here with me you already recognize this. 😉 For me, food is about nutrient density – eating the things that are packed full of the most nutrition possible. This comes before food for fuel or calorie counting. 

  Photo by    Lauren Kay    on    Unsplash

Photo by Lauren Kay on Unsplash

Foundation Two – Sleep

Sleep is absolutely vital to ensuring our body is able to rest and recover from the activities of our day. Lack of sleep has been linked to overeating as well as increasing our likelihood of making poor food choices (since you’re so tired and just craving easy energy!). Sleep loss can increase your risk of insulin resistance and can wreak havoc on your hormone levels. It’s fundamental for the health of our brain and immune system. 

Sleep loss does accumulate night after night, and if you aren’t sleeping enough during the week it’s highly likely that having a lie-in on weekends isn’t completely getting you out of the red. Plus just one night of poor sleep can already profoundly affect our energy levels and needs the next day. 

Remember that adults tend to need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleeping less than 6 hours a night increases your risk of all-cause mortality by 12%. To find out what your body needs try to head to bed at the same time every night for at least a week and wake without an alarm clock. After a few days (once you’ve recovered from any deficit you may have been in) you should naturally find your body’s set point.

  Photo by    Sylwia Bartyzel    on    Unsplash

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

Foundation Three – Connection

It made headlines in 2018 when the UK created the position of “minister of loneliness”. She’s been tasked with working on bringing down the rates of loneliness across all generations, and a lot of other countries have taken note. 

The permeation of the internet and social media into our lives has on one hand brought an increase in social connections – for example I can now easy stay up-to-date with my family back in Canada! But on the other hand, it can result in us becoming even more isolated. Sometimes social media can feel social – but often we aren’t making genuine connections and most of us are taking on the role of observer. 

Even for this introvert it can sometimes feel easier to hole up alone and avoid “peopling”! But even introverts shouldn’t forget how important these interactions are. While they may cost energy, they fill you up in a different way!

Having genuine connections with others is a key component for our mental health which is more connected to our physical health than we often think. And this can come in a variety of ways – for example, family, friends, pets, colleagues, or community groups. Connection can also include a closeness with nature – getting outside, breathing fresh air, and surrounding ourselves at least occasionally with greenery. 

  Photo by    Roberto Nickson    on    Unsplash

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Foundation Four – Self-Care

Self-care or stress management tends to be an area we easily overlook. It doesn’t need to be yoga, journaling, or a rose petal filled bath, but just something that allows you to relax, breathe, and recharge yourself. This could be a walk out in nature, a movie night with your partner, even a solo trip to the grocery store!

Stress can manifest in so many different ways, that taking care to try and reduce or recover from this is incredibly important. Stress can affect our digestion, our hormones, our sleep, our relationships! You can be doing everything else right, but if your stress levels are too high you could be undoing all the positive work.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

  Photo by    bruce mars    on    Unsplash

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Foundation Five – Movement

There has definitely never been another era in human existence where we have been so sedentary! I don’t think you can confute that movement is necessary for our health. 

However, I have called this foundation movement rather than exercise. This is partly a mental word play, since we tend to have negative associations with the word exercise – like some we have to do that we’d rather not! Movement sounds more joyful – keeping your body active in a way that feels good and creates a sustainable, healthy habit. 

Movement improves our health through a multitude of ways, such as boosting our immune system, improving our resistance to stress, and helping to regulate our circadian rhythm (our sleep-awake cycle).

Do these five foundations ring true for you? Perhaps there is one or more you feel you are struggling with? That’s totally normal and is a balancing act that we are all working on.

If you’re looking for more support on any of the five foundations, head over here to learn more about working with me one-on-one!

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