I have chicken-chunk, beef-bloat, pork-belly, holiday-hangover, sugar slump. It seems no matter how determined I am, each year I manage to eat a little too much, and even a few things I shouldn’t be eating (like gummy bears and store-bought eggnog). In the last two weeks, I have seen more sugar in this house than I have in the whole previous year combined. And now, I am suffering dearly. But my guess is, I am not the only one.
It’s easy to eat too much this time of year, with all those gravies and succulent meats sitting on tables, all that sugary goodness hanging out at every party, filling the shelves of nearly every store. It’s too much for even the most dedicated health-nut. What is a person to do?
I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to cure my holiday hangover as quickly as possible. But how does one do that? I’m so glad you asked.
I have a plan. A very simple plan. (You knew it had to be simple, right? I hate long and complicated).
All that’s required is commitment, the desire to feel better, and a tad bit of time. It will all be worth it. Are you with me?
Here it is. A Simple Cure for a Holiday Hangover:
1. Start your day off running. Just one minute while the shower warms up. The blood is pumping, and your brain has received its first charge of the day.
2. Hydrate. As soon as you get out of the shower. I keep a water bottle next to the bed, and refill it each day so it’s ready for the next morning. Lifeworks makes a nifty glass bottle with a cool rubber grip on the outside.
3. Eat breakfast. I am a big proponent of the first meal of the day. I’m a slug without it. My daily breakfast usually consists of the same thing: One egg, a green smoothie (hemp, flax, bananas, another fruit, and spinach – the ingredients vary depending on what’s in our house). I top it off with tea (filled with antioxidants, and not as big of a crash for me as coffee), and a piece of chocolate. Whoa! Stop. Chocolate? Yup, that’s what I said. If people can have chocolate drinks, donuts, and chocolate cereal, I figure I can have a piece of chocolate. I make homemade, with three ingredients: honey, raw cocoa, and coconut oil, toss in some cinnamon, maca, sea salt, nuts, and coconut. One piece, and my brain has the extra fuel (read: healthy fats) it so desperately needs in the morning.
As much as I love my simple breakfast (mostly I love not having to think about what I will eat each day), my husband gets a little bored with the routine. Occasionally, we mix it up and have bacon, pumpkin pancakes, homemade granola, or stir-fried veggies. Do whatever works for you – just make it clean, simple, whole foods.
4. Snack. They aren’t just for children. I need snacks, mostly because my meals are small. My body feels energized when I eat smaller amounts with healthy snacks in between. If you do snack, choose something light and healthy: nuts and a piece of fruit, hummus and veggies, banana and nut butter, half an avocado with a tablespoon of tuna.
5. Stay hydrated! Drink, drink, drink. I can’t say this enough. This is one habit I stuck with over the holidays, and I’m really, really glad I did. Water is necessary to fuel our bodies and brains, and keeps our organs running smoothly. It keeps our muscles lubricated (that’s probably not the right terminology, but it does help our muscles). I’ve had muscles lock up and every time it’s happened, it’s been when I haven’t been drinking enough water.
If you get bored with plain water, or find yourself overdoing it, add a lemon, cucumber, or mint. Or if you just need something completely different, try some herbal tea or a real juice drink (as in juice bar, or a make-your-own at home juice drink).
6. Stay active. I know, it’s not always easy. We can be so busy, yet somehow still manage to spend most of our days sitting. And sitting can be really bad, giving us neck pain, back aches, stiff muscles, and headaches. It can also cause weight gain, which leads to a host of other issues.
If you have your own office space, you are in luck. It’s easy to get a little exercise time behind a closed door. Stand up every hour and run in place for one minute, or do a few push-ups or sit ups.
If you don’t have your own office (which most of us don’t), you can still get some exercise. Walk around the building on your lunch break, up and down the stairs, or even back and forth down the hallway. Park farther away from the office, get up and do small errands throughout the day (like bringing papers to someone’s desk, or walking over to talk to someone instead of sending them a message).
7. Take breaks. How is taking a break healthy? When we take a break from work, we are able to release stress from the day. It makes me crazy when I think of all the people who eat lunch at their desk instead of taking a break. I was once one of those people. Believe me, no job is worth your skipping every break. Get away. Close your eyes for five minutes and just breathe. Listen to tunes, read a book, sit outside. And as much as you love your co-workers, sometimes it’s best to take a break away from them. It makes you forget about work, if only for a brief time.
8. Eat lunch. Stop the fast food madness! Eat a simple, whole food lunch. A salad, meat wrapped around carrots, deviled eggs. Simple to prepare, easy to eat.
9. Don’t work late. I think I just heard yelling. How is that even possible, you ask? I don’t know. I did it too many times myself. But I do know this, all those extra hours, all those missed breaks and Saturday mornings spent in an office were not worth one single moment of my life. For work, I missed family time, moments together that can never be replaced. I was stressed, and often tired. I gained a few pounds, got out of shape, all for a job I didn’t really like.
I realize sometimes we are forced to work extra hours. An occasional week, or even month, won’t matter. But what happens when we do that every week of every month of every year? What do our bodies do? They live in a constant state of stress. They overeat to compensate, not just for the stress, but for emotions we can’t control. Stress taxes our brains and our bodies. Stress taxes our whole lives.
10. Go home. Kick off your shoes. Throw on something that makes you happy, your favorite jammies, your soft sweat pants. Listen to music, or a funny show. Unwind with a glass of wine.
11. Eat dinner. Light. Healthy. Not too close to bedtime.
12. Sleep. They don’t call her Sleeping Beauty for nothing. Everyone looks better when they have had enough zzz’s. I don’t believe we are all wired the same way and each require the exact same amount of sleep. One person may get by fine with six and a half hours, another person may need eight every night. But no matter what your needs, make sure you get it. Leave the dishes, leave the laundry, and go to bed. Your body, and your brain, will thank you.
There you go. Your twelve-step program to getting rid of a holiday hangover. It’s simple, really: eat well, sleep well, exercise. Take care of you.
Happy new year!