We are now entering the festive season – a season of joy, family gatherings, excellent food…and STRESS! With lots going on, including parties, an excess of food, family squabbles, trying to make everybody happy, shopping until you drop, playing Santa, stress mounts quickly during this time of year.
Stress can have a negative effect on your overall health and well-being. When you are stressed you may experience headaches, back and neck pain, frequent colds and flu, problems digesting your food, trouble sleeping, and depression and anxiety. Don’t let this happen to you this holiday season.
You may not be able to eliminate all the stress this season brings, but you can take better care of yourself. It all begins with putting the right food into your body. Yes, there will be treats to sample, but don’t make it a part of every meal.
Some simple rules to follow are:
Make sure you begin your day with a good protein-based breakfast such as an omelette, a protein smoothie, or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts. A nutrient-dense breakfast will provide you with energy, keep you fuller longer, and hopefully help you make better food choices for the rest of the day.
Build the rest of your meals around fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, and lean cuts of meat.
By eating at regular intervals (every 3 to 4 hours) you will be giving your body a constant flow of nutrients which will nourish your stressed-out body, and will help keep you away from the Christmas cookies.
Don’t forget to drink water. When you are stressed, your heart rate is elevated and you breathe harder. This is dehydrating. Make sure you carry a water bottle around with you as a reminder to hydrate yourself. The recommended daily intake is 8 glasses of water.
Here is some additional advice to help nourish you in times of stress. The following foods actually help reduce stress.
Foods that help reduce stress
Now let’s examine foods that will actually raise your stress levels. Try to avoid over-consuming the following foods.
Foods that aggravate stress
By eating a nutritious and balanced diet, you will be better equipped to deal with stress this holiday season. This should be a time for family and friends to enjoy one another’s company and share good food and great times together.
Focus on good nutrition to help you stay stress-free this Christmas, and remember the reason for the season!
*These teachings and more can be found in chapter 7 (Stress Management) of my book Healthy Body for Life.
Here is a lovely recipe which will make a very colourful and nutritious addition to your Christmas meal! Apple Quinoa Salad
Quinoa contains many of the stress-reducing nutrients mentioned earlier in this article.
My book and I will be at the Harvest Hills Alliance Church Craft Sale this weekend Friday December 2 from 4-8 pm and Saturday December 3 from 9-3 pm. HEALTHY BODY FOR LIFE makes a great and unique 'healthy' Christmas gift or stocking stuffer.
Come say hello and purchase a signed copy ($25 cash or credit)! There will be 100 different vendors. Come do your Christmas shopping!
Quinoa is a wonderful nutrient-dense food. It is a complete protein - a protein that contains all of the nine essential amino acids. Generally, complete protein is only found in animal foods such as meat and eggs. It is also an excellent source of dietary fibre and many essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, the B vitamins and vitamin E.
The tiny seeds cook just like rice. Add 2 cups of water for every cup of quinoa and bring it to a boil then cover and let it simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes. It also cooks very well in a rice cooker.
It has a mild and nutty taste and is a very versatile food. It can be used in place of rice in any of your favorite recipes. It makes a great main dish, side dish, salad, soup, breakfast cereal, or pudding. It is also gluten-free, which makes it a great food for someone with celiac disease.
Apple Quinoa Salad
I served this yummy apple quinoa salad to my guests at my Book Launch Celebration this past week. It was enjoyed by all and I promised that I would post the recipe. Here it is!
Apple Quinoa Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa - chilled (you can cook quinoa in vegetable broth for added flavour)
1 - 14 oz can of black beans drained and rinsed
1 apple diced
1 bell pepper diced (I used half red and half yellow - makes for a colourful salad)
2 spring onions thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro or parsley
Mix all these ingredients into a large bowl.
In a small bowl combine the following ingredients:
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
Whisk until smooth then pour on top of salad.
Toss to combine and add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Chill for at least one hour then serve.
Eat well - Stay active - Live happy, and enjoy a Healthy Body for Life!
Are you having a personal energy crisis?
This week I had an opportunity to speak to a group of women from T.O.P.S. - Take Off Pounds Sensibly. I really enjoyed seeing the camaraderie they shared and the accountability of the group, which I believe is essential to personal progress.
I presented on 6 simple strategies to get more energy in your life and the positive impact that can have on your health and well-being. Without increased energy, you will not have the strength to make good decisions as far as nutrition is concerned, nor will you want to exercise. Both are essential to overall well-being.
I look forward to speaking to more women's groups in the new year to encourage women to Eat well - Stay active - Live happy and enjoy a Healthy Body for Life!