Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season

Next week begins the season of holiday hubbub that probably won’t stop until the new year. For most of us, we look forward to celebrating with our friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, these celebrations often revolve around libations and foods that are loaded with carbs, sugar and fat. All of the good nourishing energy we receive from spending time with our families and friends can be hampered by overindulging in sweets and drinks that leave us filling tired and depleted.

Here are some tips to help you stay mindful of your health this time of year and still enjoy the gifts of the season:

  1. When attending a potluck meal, opt to bring a healthier dish. Cooking magazine sites like www.healthyliving.com or www.eatingwell.com have healthier versions of your holiday favorites. At least you know if you bring a healthy dish, there is one thing you can enjoy without feeling guilty.
  2. Take time out to savor your meal. At parties and events, we are often in conversation and on the move while consuming our food. Make a point to take your plate and sit down somewhere to really enjoy the many offerings of the seasons. Be present to each bite, feel the textures, notice the flavors and slow down . Odds are you will eat less and enjoy your meal more when engaging in mindful eating.
  3. Drink plenty of water! Alcohol can be a great accompaniment to a holiday festivity when consumed in moderation. While it can relax us, it also dehydrates us especially this time of year. Drinking lots of water before, during and after parties, will minimize any over indulgence and its’ after-effects.
  4. Remember the true reasons for the holiday season. Whichever holidays you celebrate this time of year, take time to connect with the spiritual aspects of them. Nourishing our spirit is just as important as nourishing our bodies. If you are hosting an event, don’t be afraid to include a moment to acknowledge your beliefs and to remind yourself and your guests why you are gathered together. It can set the tone for a more meaningful experience.

Bowing to What Is

 

This time of year reminds us of the impermanence of life. We cannot keep the light of summer's long days, the leaves are changing, and the weather is turning colder. We may find these changes carry with them some heavy emotions; there may be a tendency to feel down or sad. In the treatment room, we hear clients speaking of a feeling of loss or grief. These feelings should be explored and not suppressed. For often underneath the emotion, can be a gem waiting to be unearthed.

 

Just as the leaves fall from the trees, one day we too must let go of everything. When we allow ourselves to sit with this thought, we can open to the present moment. In cultivating an appreciation of the present moment, we can foster a deep acknowledgement for all that is right now. The people we encounter every day, the minutia that makes the routine of daily life, all of it...is transient. Can we take a breath and appreciate it, just as it is? In this breath, lies the freedom of the now; the endless chatter of the mind ceases and we open to the true wonder of this life. You are alive right now, you are a glorious miracle made manifest, and everything and everyone are perfect just as they are precious and impermanent. Treasure it all.

Three Essential Herbal Formulas for Your Medicine Cabinet During Cold and Flu Season

Fall is is one of the busiest times of the year for our practice. With children back in school, germs abound in many households so many of our patients are looking to support their immune function. Studies show that patients who receive regular acupuncture treatments get sick less often. If you can't make into the office for a treatment, here are some herbal formulas we recommend for your medicine cabinet this cold and flu season:
Yin Chiao - This herb is to be taken at the very beginning of a cold or flu when a sore throat and body aches are first felt. If taken early, it can be effective in preventing the progression of the illness. It is to be taken every 3 hours for the first 24 hours and then every 4 hours until symptoms disappear.
Gan Mao Ling - This formula can be taken as a preventative for exposure to the common cold or flu. Like Yin Chiao, it can also be used at the onset of symptoms and is an especially potent remedy to prevent further progression of a pathogenic invasion. If you missed the initial window, this formula can be taken in the full throes of an illness when headache, fever, enlarged lymph nodes or infection are present. It can shorten the duration and lessen these symptoms. This formula is taken every 3 hours while symptoms persist.
Xanthium Nasal Formula -This is a great formula for sinus pressure and congestion due to an acute infection or an intense allergic reaction. This formula frees the nasal passages, transforms phlegm and dries dampness. Instead of reaching for an over-the-counter (OTC) cold remedy, which can be hard on the liver or the small intestine, this formula is safe and effective without damaging other organs. It shouldn't be used long term but can be taken every 4 hours when symptoms arise.
Of course everyone knows about Universal Precautions and prevention here is key. Just training yourself to be mindful to wash your hands frequently and to not touch your face can go very far toward prevention, as well as protection for you and your family. In cases where influenza exposure is probable, but no symptoms have appeared - as is often the case when a family member comes down with the flu - an effective strategy can be to take a big dose (2x the recommended dose on the bottle) before going to bed and right after breakfast while the family member is contagious (about a week).
 
All of these formulas are available to purchase at our office. Call today to pick up yours so you can be prepared when the first signs of a cold hits!

How Leslie Kicked Her Cold To The Curb

 

I woke up one morning very recently to the dreadful feeling of scratchiness in my throat. This was accompanied by some stiffness in my neck and shoulders, along with a chilliness that I felt throughout my whole body. It was a cold, trying to make its way in to my life and I wanted none of it. The next day all of these symptoms were gone, I was feeling great and here's how I did it.  

 

For those of you who have worked with me before, you have heard me say “rest, rest and rest some more” when these symptoms arise. I decided to take my own advice and do everything I could to stave off the impending illness. I cancelled my appointments for the day and immediately started taking Yin Chiao, a Chinese herbal supplement. I was vigilant about taking these herbs every 4 hours for the next 24 hours.  I also put some chicken stock on the stove to cook slowly all day.  I later used it in a delicious soup loaded with garlic and green onion. These herbs in particular are helpful in warding off a pathogenic invasion by making you sweat.   I gave myself some acupuncture, using points which aid in boosting the immune system.  I spent most of the day in bed, sleeping off and on, watching some bad television and drinking plenty of water.

 

The next morning, there were no signs of a cold. I was rested and other than having some strong garlic breathe, I was ready to go about my day.

 

If you find yourself in the same predicament, your actions combined with some simple Chinese medicine can make all the difference.  It’s important to start taking herbs right away and if you can get in with your practitioner that day, you may never have to suffer a cold again!

 

Make sure you read next week’s post as I’m going to share my favorite herbal remedies for the cold and flu season in case you didn’t follow this advice.