Food Is Not Your Enemy

Caring for Yourself This Holiday Season
December 13, 2012, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: ,

At a time of year that’s supposed to be associated with family, faith, cozying up by the fire, baking cookies with our kids, and giving presents to those we love, many of us can end up despairing when we realize that we’ve come to associate the holidays more with crushing crowds, rampant consumerism, credit-card debt, calorie-bomb foods, and non-stop holiday events that can leave us feeling depleted and exhausted. The way that many people tend to deal with the onslaught of obligations and to-do lists in December is to abandon their healthy routines–skipping the gym, relying more on takeout dinners, skimping on sleep. But in a month like this, we need our healthy routines and a little self-care–okay, maybe even a LOT of self-care–more than ever. Otherwise we’re looking at burnout, debilitating stress, and perhaps even a very unwelcome extra five or ten pounds.

Here are some tips to help keep you sane and healthy this holiday season:

Take some quiet time for yourself every day. Have a cup of tea. Curl up on the couch and read. Take a hot bath before bed. Or simply close your eyes and do nothing. Decompressing like this is essential after a hectic day holiday shopping or preparing food for a party.

Be honest about money. If the state of the economy has taken a toll on you, be up front with your family and/or friends about what you can handle with regard to gift-buying this year. Don’t max out your credit card out of a sense of obligation if you know it will come back to bite you later in the form of worry or outright panic.

Remember that every day is not a feasting day. Eat to your heart’s content on Christmas or when your family gets together for a big Chanukah dinner. But if you eat this way the entire month of December, you will gain weight. Make a point of eating as “normally” as you can–or even healthier than usual–on the days surrounding the holiday feast days.

Prioritize sleep. If you sleep only four or five hours a night due to all the parties and obligations, you will start to break down. Make sure you’re getting a good seven or eight hours each night.

Exercise. This is non-negotiable, like showering. You don’t regularly hear yourself saying you’re so busy that you don’t have time to shower, do you? Same should go for your workouts.

Do something nice for yourself. Get a pedicure or a massage. Buy that book you’ve had your eye on. Enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner with your partner. In the midst of running around taking care of everyone else, never forget to take care of yourself.

Enjoy your holidays!

The Best Natural Ways to Treat a Cold or Flu
December 3, 2012, 11:39 am
Filed under: Drugs, Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: , ,

As we’re now deep into fall, cold and flu season is very much upon us. In an ideal world, your immune system would be in tip-top shape and you’d avoid getting sick in the first place–tips for strengthening your immunity can be found here–but sometimes there is just no avoiding catching a cold or coming down with the flu. Should you start to sniffle or feel that telltale scratchiness in the back of your throat that signals the onset of illness, take action right away:

Flood yourself with fluids. This is key the moment you feel sick–make sure that you pretty much constantly have a cup of either hot tea, broth, water, or orange juice in your hand. Hot liquids in particular are very soothing for the throat. I have found that nine times out of ten, drinking lots of fluids at the first sign of sickness chases away my cold before it goes any further than that initial scratch in my throat.

Break out the honey. Honey has antimicrobial and healing properties. Enjoy honey in tea, hot water, or even by itself when you’re sick.

Gargle and/or flush your sinuses with salt water. Mix about half a teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of warm water and gargle several times a day–this will help soothe your throat. A neti pot, which channels salt water through your sinuses, will help ensure that your nasal passages are kept moist, decongested, and clear of pathogens.

Try these helpful foods. According to Paul Pitchford, author of Healing With Whole Foods, certain foods are particularly beneficial for treating colds and flus. These include cabbage, green peppers, parsley, carrots, broccoli, turnips, parsnips, horseradish, scallions, garlic, lemon juice, grapefruit, and most other fruits.

Sweat. Pitchford is also a proponent of sweating therapy, which helps draw the toxins out of your body. He recommends drinking a cup of hot herbal tea, taking a hot shower or bath, having more hot tea, then covering yourself in blankets and sweating.

Hope this helps–stay well!