Today is Thanksgiving. For me and many in my community, this day kicks off the busy holiday season. As most of us know, the holiday season can bring much joy and laughter into our homes, but, if we’re not careful, it can also bring a lot of stress. That added stress can wreak havoc on our immune system, during a time of year when we need it to be its strongest.
So, this holiday season, as you gather with friends and family, focus on taking steps to help you keep your stress level down and your immune system strong.
Here are My 10 Tips
Optimize your vitamin D level. Learn what your vitamin D level is. If it’s low, work with your trusted health care provider on the best way to increase your level.
Drink clean water. Invest in a water filtration system so you are drinking the purest water available. Skip the sodas and alcohol this year.
Practice forgiveness. Forgive everyone for everything. Just do it. It is in your best interest and will reduce your stress.
Optimize your sleep. If sleep is an issue, make it a priority this year. A functional nutrition counselor can help you if you’re struggling with this one. Finding the root cause is key.
Pray. Prayer is powerful at reducing stress.
Laugh more. Laughter is healing and stress reducing.
Breathe. Breathe deeply and often. It helps with stress. When under stress we can get stuck in shallow breathing and not even realize it. Our lungs are one of our detox organs so breathing deeply is important in that aspect, too.
Nourish relationships. Make an effort to slow down and enjoy the people you are with. Be kind. Hold the critical thoughts and words. Better yet, just let them go. They don’t serve you or the people you care about. Focus on kindness and building up the people you are around.
Walk every day. Even better, take a hike in the woods. Try to manage at least 30 minutes walking outside each day.
Eat a whole food diet. If you eat meat, eat less of it this holiday season. Try setting a goal to eat meat at only one of your daily meals. Plants are powerful for health. Skip the processed food stuff. If it comes in a box, a can, a bag or a bottle, skip it. Skip everything that God didn’t make.
A good strategy for eating healthy during the holidays is to focus on eating foods from the power plate developed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). PCRM’s power plate is made up of vegetables, whole grains, fruit and legumes.
The Power Plate
Vegetables are packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium, fiber and other nutrients. Dark-green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard, turnip greens, chicory and bok choy, are especially good sources of these important nutrients. Dark-yellow and orange vegetables, such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin, provide extra beta-carotene. Include generous portions of a variety of vegetables that you love in your diet.
This group includes bread, rice, pasta, hot or cold cereal, millet, barley bulgur, buckwheat groats, and tortillas. Build each of your meals around a hearty grain dish. Grains are rich in fiber and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins and zinc.
Fruits are rich in fiber, vitamin C and beta-carotene. Be sure to include at least one serving each day of fruits high in vitamin C, including citrus fruits, melons, strawberries and wild blueberries. These are all good choices. Choose whole fruit over fruit juices, which do not contain very much fiber.
Legumes, including beans, peas and lentils, are all good sources of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins. This group also includes chickpeas, soy milk and tempeh.
Eating can be an enormously stressful event for our body? Americans eat around 80,000 meals in an average life span. That is a lot of opportunity to hurt or help our health and cause stress to our body. So, eating healthy can be a good strategy to reduce stress.
Even small steps that you take each day to reduce stress and support your health and immune system add up. There is a compound effect on your overall health. Gayle and I can attest to that. We have travelled the road to better health, and we know that the steps you take today, even small ones, will show up tomorrow and all the tomorrows that follow.
Enjoy the holiday season!