If you were to rate the seasons by the level of health challenges they present, winter would be a perfect 10. It’s cold, it’s dark, no one wants to exercise, we want comfort food and extra fat to stay warm, and the holidays? To say winter seasonal wellness is a challenge would be a major understatement. We’ve reached out to our expert friends for advice and share it with you here. We wish you a healthy winter season!!
Wellness Specialist at Coastal Pharmacy & Wellness
Turkey and stuffing. Pies. Pastries. Pudding. The abundance of the holiday season can be wonderful, but also overwhelming. Everything tastes so good and there’s so much of it. The results of overindulgence can lead to digestive challenges, lethargy, and the occasional awkward silence, as everyone quietly contemplates their newly expanded waistline.
Short of monk-like self-control, what is the average mortal to do in self-defense?
Digestive enzymes may be the answer. Large meals put a strain on our digestive resources, as we must contribute acids, enzymes, and bile to the process of digestion and assimilation. If taken in the form of a supplement, enzymes can reduce that burden and increase the efficiency of the process.
Digest Gold from Enzymedica is a powerful broad-spectrum digestive enzyme designed to assist with the digestion of all food elements. The product remains active in all digestive circumstances, unlike others which require specific chemistry to function. And, as you do not need to contribute so many of your own enzymes, you will have energy to spare for your immune system, your metabolism and maybe even the dishes!
Wellness Specialist at Coastal Pharmacy & Wellness
We see so many people suffering from colds throughout the winter. Below are my go-to products for those who have had the displeasure of coming down with a cold:
- Umcka: Clinically proven to reduce cold symptoms. A member of the geranium family, the roots of Pelargonium sidoides (or umckaloabo) have been traditionally used as a respiratory ailment treatment by the Zulu and Basotho for hundreds of years. It comes in many different forms, chewable tablets, liquid drops, syrup and a hot tea. I personally like the Umcka Menthol Syrup.
- A Vogel Pine Cough Drops: Helps soothe the throat and relieve bronchial irritation. They have a liquid center and taste good!
- Badger Chest Rub: A natural alternative to Vicks. Smells great and is very effective in relieving stuffiness due to colds. Apply it to your chest or place a small amount under your nose if you can tolerate it.
Carrie Levine, CNM
Certified Nurse Midwife
Founder of Whole Woman Health, in Newcastle and Portland
- Stay focused on fun and make decisions accordingly
- Essentials only – no non-essential appointments for doctors or dentists, no non-essential meetings, no non-essential errands
- Keep moving – exercise is the best stress reliever and counters seasonal iindulgences
- Ask yourself what your soul needs, really needs, this time of year and honor it.
- Take essential nutrients -to counter stress, keep your immune system strong, and promote physiological balance
Read more about Carrie at wholewomanhealthcare.com.
What if I told you that the best diet is really no diet at all? That you could experience food freedom, even in the holiday season? Below are some of local dietitian Carolyn Milles, RDN, LD’s tips for ditching the diet and savoring the celebration.
- Fuel up. If you’re going to an all-you-can-eat buffet, is the answer to “save up” all day by restricting? No. Same goes for the holidays. Don’t skip meals or snacks as this will leave you over-hungry, deprived, and unable to truly enjoy the food when it finally comes around.
- Eat intuitively. Tune in, how are you feeling before and after eating? Are you ravenous, hungry, satiated, overfull? Do not restrict or stuff yourself to a point of discomfort. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re satiated.
- Shut down diet talk. Create a safe space for yourself and others by eliminating negative body and food talk. Statements about weight and the latest fad diet do not contribute to healthy relationships in any arena – or celebration for that matter!
- Practice mindfulness. Are you eating in front of the TV? Computer? Looking at your phone? While driving? Turn off the screens and engage your senses, allowing the digestive process to fully take place. Put your fork down between bites and engage with those around you.
- Find joy in movement. Do you enjoy dancing? Walking outside? Yoga? Lifting weights? Make exercise less of a task and more of a self-care routine. Rest is equally important, so don’t be afraid to take a hot bath or read a book instead. Treat your body with kindness while moving and resting intuitively.
- Consider your relationship with food. There is no good or bad food as all have a place in nourishing your body. Restriction can lead to binging, shame, and various other poor outcomes.
- Savor the foods that you desire and, remember, they can come again soon! Your favorite food should not be limited to the holidays. After all, life is for living not restricting!
Ditch the diet and eat the foods that you love this holiday season. Don’t let food rules steal your joy and connection. The new year will thank you.
Read more about Carolyn at cvwellbeing.com.
Founder of Wild Carrot Herbs in Portland
My favorite herbal remedy for the post-meal bloated belly syndrome is Burdock root. Enjoying 10 drops in tincture form, either directly on the tongue or in a small amount of water, supports the body in digesting a rich meal.
To support the body through a cold or the flu, I turn to the culinary cabinet and place a pinch of Oregano, Thyme or Rosemary (or all three!) into a mug or a tea ball and pour hot water over the herbs. (The hot water has been boiled, but then allowed to rest several minutes so it is no longer actively boiling, before covering the herbs.) Cover the mug with a saucer and set the timer for 8 minutes. Strain out your herbs, add honey if you like, and enjoy your tea. This can be done up to five cups per day. During the first trimester of pregnancy, stick to one cup of these herbs per day and instead consider Echinacea, Elderberry, Garlic, and Lemon as your strongest allies!
Read more about Mischa at wildcarrotherbs.com.
Stephanie Walsh, CPT, CNTP, CEPC
Nutrition Therapy Practitioner, Eating Psychology Coach, and Personal Trainer
Founder of The Holistic Health Approach in South Portland
Make it worth it! This phrase relates to not only food, but time as well. This time of year is filled with lots of food and party obligations. So make your choices worth your time (and calories).
When making nutrition choices, instead of trying everything, or feeling obligated to, pick a select few of the best of your favorites, and savor every bite. If you absolutely love chocolate, don’t eat the stale store bought chocolate chip cookies in the office lounge. Instead, drink real hot chocolate with your kids, or enlist your baker friend to make you a fresh chocolate treat to share. If there is some dish or dessert that you only eat at the holidays, indulge in a serving of the best version (aka grandma’s recipe that no one else can come close to) and enjoy it with family.
When making choices with your time, consider what is worth it to you. Spend time with those who lift you up, support your goals, make you laugh and make you live. Whether that is family, friends, coworkers, those in need, or all of the above, when you make your holiday richer and fulfilling emotionally than nutritionally you’re creating memories that will last well beyond the New Year!