Many people feel a sort of holiday letdown after Christmas and New Year’s. What most people don’t realize is that it is largely due to nutrition. The month of December is full of holiday events and treats, marked by overindulgence of sweets, carbohydrates, and alcohol. All of this unhealthy eating and drinking wreaks havoc on the body, especially our digestive health. This can leave us feeling moody, depressed, irritable, foggy, sluggish, anxious, and unfocused. We may also find that we have more cravings for sugar after eating more of it over the holidays.
Our mood, focus, and cognitive functioning rely heavily on the nutrients we take in. It makes sense then, that nutrition is the path through which we can get back to feeling vibrant, energetic, and uplifted!
To help you start the new year off right, we have put together a list of nutrients and habits to help you support health and well-being - and nix those pesky sugar cravings!
Eat More Whole Foods - Minimize processed junk, and go back to basics. Let real, whole foods be the foundation of your diet. Rather than focusing on deprivation, focus on replacing and adding in more good, quality foods. Think lean proteins, healthy fats, and seasonal vegetables, fruits, and greens. Make healthy eating fun by trying new recipes, meal prepping, incorporating herbs and spices and different flavors, and eating slowly and mindfully!
Support Gut Health - Gut health plays a huge role in overall health, including mood, inflammation, immune function, mental functioning, nutrient absorption, digestion, autoimmune issues, and even cravings. Set yourself up for success by cultivating a healthy gut microbiome! Bone broth and high quality probiotics are your gut’s best friend. Bone broth has been found to repair the lining of the gut, while probiotics replenish healthy bacteria. Bone broth also supplies highly absorbable vital nutrients including amino acids and collagen. Some strains of probiotics have also been linked to specific functions, such as anxiety, depression, cognition, women’s health issues, and more!
Don’t Skip Meals — Skipping meals can cause blood sugar crashes that cause cravings, irritability, brain fog, headaches, and metabolic issues. It can also make you feel hungrier later. To minimize meal skipping, plan ahead! Meal prep is a great way to accomplish this!
Stay Hydrated — Did you know that dehydration can make you feel hungry? It also has been shown to negatively impact mood. Aim for the recommended guideline of 8 glasses of water per day.
Get Moving — Go for bike rides, take a group fitness class, or visit the gym. Not to punish yourself for holiday eating, but to do something healthy for yourself. Exercise is a fantastic way to boost mood naturally, manage weight, and promote wellbeing.
Get Your Zzz’s — Did you know that sleep deprivation greatly impacts your health and functioning, including weight and eating habits? Lack of sleep decreases leptin, which is our fullness / satiation hormone and increases ghrelin, the body’s hunger hormone. Not getting enough sleep has a negative impact on our mood, stress, blood sugar, cognitive function, and metabolism.
Don’t Forget Your Vitamins – One cause of health issues lies in nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies can also cause mood issues and food cravings. Some of the most common vitamin deficiencies on the Standard American Diet include vitamin D and magnesium. Magnesium deficiency can lead to headaches, irritability, fatigue, constipation, muscle cramps, insomnia, kidney stones, osteoporosis, weakness, memory problems, and confusion. Magnesium deficiency has also been indirectly linked to fibromyalgia and some heart conditions. Excellent food sources of magnesium include organic dark leafy vegetables, organic almonds, raw cacao dark chocolate, and organic pumpkin seeds. Vitamin D plays an important role in protecting us against cold, flu, and respiratory tract infections, as well as bone health, brain and nervous system health, lung function, cardiovascular health, and absorption of other vital nutrients. Sunlight and food sources are the best ways to get vitamin D, including cheese, red meat, egg yolks, oily fish, and liver. Check with your physician if you have specific concerns.
In addition to promoting health and well-being, a lot of people find that their weight levels off after incorporating positive nutrition and lifestyle changes. By focusing on choosing healthy, nutrient-rich food, nourishing your body with healthy fats, proteins and vegetables, and minimizing sugars, wheat, and chemicals, you can reap some serious health benefits.
What a great way to start 2022 - committed to your health and well-being!