Healthy, Happy Holiday Season 2014

Hopefully you’re all staying warm and cozy this December. It’s always a busy time for everyone, so here’s some good stuff for surviving and thriving this holiday season.celeriac soup

Wintertime generally means cold, and to me that means soup. Whenever I can, I make my own–I adore chicken and turkey  soup, and I love my Red Lentil DalCreamy Veggie SoupSniffle Stew…the list is endless!

Canned soup is a also great fallback. Here’s a list of soups that avoid BPA. BPA is an additive in many can liners, and research has indicated there are potential links between BPA blood pressure, weight, PCOS and/or endocrine conditions.

Of course, December is famous for reasons other than soup. For most people, mindless munching is also a huge part of the season, so here are my top 5 holiday mindless eating tips:

  1. Survey your options: Research shows that people at a normal weight are more likely to survey all of their options, then hone in on what they most enjoy. Otherwise, we have much more of a tendency to keep going back. Standing further from the buffet, facing away from the food and engaging in something else fun (conversation, dancing, photography) also can be a help.
  2. Surround yourself with what you want to see. Remember all that talk about a see-food and eat it diet? Make sure you’re seeing the foods you want to be eating. Put seasonal fruits such as grapefruits, mangos and my personal favorites, pomegranates, on the counter or in your refrigerator where they are easy to grab. Bonus points for putting them at eye level!
  3. Choose the special foods: If you can’t live without mint fudge, then plan to have a piece or two! Skip on the “filler” foods you can have every day, like chips and dip or even booze.
  4. Limit alcohol. I know that’s not always the easiest sell, but sometimes it’s helpful to consider which you’d enjoy more, that truffle or that 2nd glass of wine. Not only is alcohol empty calories that slow your metabolism, but it can be harder to make good choices after you’ve had a few. It can help to set a target before you go. WaPo included some of my tips for reducing excess last year.
  5. Keep the evidence: Out of sight, out of mind, right? If you don’t keep the wrappers or plate, it’s easier to conveniently forget how many mini plates you’ve already munched through.

And…why not plan ahead for a healthier January? One of my colleagues is running a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction series in Annandale and Vienna. MBSR has a lot of research for helping improve mood and a variety of medical conditions, such as depression, stress, anxiety, IBS, IBD and more. IT’s a 8-week educational group that teaches mindfulness meditation as a health intervention. Created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD., in 1979, MBSR offers participants the possibility to develop a different relationship to stress resulting from chronic stress, illness and psychological illnesses. Research outcomes have demonstrated positive improvements in physical and psychological symptoms, as well as changes in health attitudes and behaviors.

MBSR uses mindful movement, meditation, group discussion, and inquiry to teach students how to use mindfulness to relate differently to stress. The course teaches practical ways to integrate mindfulness into daily life and build and sustain a personal mindfulness practice.

Interested? Contact Mary VanDevanter, at or call 703-370-6525, ext. 3.

Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday season, and a happy New Year!

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742.

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