Updated: Dec 15, 2022
When Halloween candy starts to show up through December when we show love with large meals and sugary desserts, the need for portion control and other factors for a healthy diet is more important than ever. The stressful holiday season is possibly the worst time for our diets to go uncontrolled. 64% of those of us with mental illness say it gets worse during the holidays. We understand the health risks of gaining weight, but more importantly, thinking we are heavier can lead to an emotional load that makes it hard to lose weight. Here are a few ways combining food with our mental health can make us feel our best.
The link between the health of our guts and our mental health is well-studied, and our dietary health has been linked to depression, anxiety, and how well we deal with stress. Filling up with fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber and high in complex carbohydrates reduces the number of unhealthy foods you will want, and is also directly linked to helping with depression, anxiety, and stress.
Choosing When To Eat
Some experts say that deprivation can lead to overindulgence. The food we eat during the holidays is delicious and given with love, so there are benefits to eating more of one or more things than we usually do. Planning the best time to eat these meals can help to reduce seeking them out when they aren’t worth it. You can eat all of your favorite pies at the big family meal and maybe skip the mass-produced store-bought offerings at the office or at other parties.
Clean Your Air
As meals are prepared, most cooking activities negatively impact indoor air quality. Cooking a large holiday-level meal can make your air the same quality as the most polluted outdoor urban environments, but any cooking should be well-ventilated to reduce particles, chemicals, and gasses like nitrogen dioxide in the air. Then in the spaces where we gather and eat, carbon dioxide (CO2) will inevitably build up, which can cause exhaustion and confusion even at low levels. Higher levels increase anxiety, and people with anxiety disorders can be more sensitive to CO2. Opening windows and doors, even for a few minutes at a time, helps to reduce CO2. To reduce other particles and chemicals in the air, you can also get a purifier like our Molekule Air Pro and Trusens Z-3500, and more. With air sensors to communicate with you and the air purifiers, you are not only able to clean the air you and your guests breathe but also know how to maintain clean, healthy indoor air.
Take A Walk
Individuals who are more mindful find it easier to abstain from overeating. These moderate eaters scored higher when asked how often they were observant, aware, or not reacting to their inner experiences. Approaching your food world with a little more
mindfulness is simple and can be practiced almost anywhere. Taking a walk outside and just watching the world without judgment can be enough if you’re fortunate to be spending the holidays where the weather is conducive to taking a walk outside. Otherwise just finding a quiet corner to practice observing your thoughts can be centering.
The world around us can be crazy and the holiday season can bring stress unlike any other time of the year. Whether it's the stress of our jobs or dwelling on what healthy choices should have been made this year. However, being thankful for what we did accomplish and showing gratitude for what you have can be more effective in improving mood even than self-kindness. When it isn't clear what parts of our lives to be thankful for, look into gratitude exercises like the ones at this link or even listen to this short children’s book about gratitude that helps us see a few things to be thankful for. You can be thankful for what you have received from people and the world or what you have been fortunate enough to share.