The big year-end holidays might also be called “big food holidays.” Between the baked goods and the turkey dinners and all the other treats (including all that leftover Halloween candy) and meals that tend to be part and parcel of this time of year, the last two months of the year can go by in a blur of eating.
Holiday Feasting & Our Health
As a rule, we tend to worry about our weight during this period, and understandably so (though there is some reason to believe holiday weight gain is not as prevalent as we think). But what we eat impacts our mental health as well as our physical health.
Hints & Reminders for the Holidays & Beyond
We are not here to suggest you forego all of your holiday favorites. After all, eating is one of the joys of the holiday season (indeed, it is one of the joys of life in general). Still and all, making good choices is, well, a good choice when it comes to your overall mental well-being.
Here are some hints and reminders that can serve you well—both during the holidays and beyond.
Wet Your Whistle With Water
Staying hydrated is extremely important for your mental health, and water is the drink that delivers hydration the best. And focusing on water has a couple of other advantages related to mental health. First, it does not contain any sugar, which means your moods will not be subject to rushes and crashes. Second, it does not contain any caffeine, which means you can maintain a healthy sleep routine without the disruption of the stimulant. Good sleep, of course, goes hand-in-hand with good mental health.
You don’t have to give up every peppermint mocha or mug of hot chocolate, but being aware of what you are drinking and when you are drinking it can be a good step toward regulating your mood and supporting your mental well-being.
Embrace Complex Carbs
Listen, we know there are going to be plenty of cookies around–and you should certainly enjoy some. But as carbs go, cookies are not among your best choices. They tend to have plenty of refined sugar in them and are often made with refined flour. You will be better served by making sure you are still getting plenty of complex carbohydrates—like brown rice or quinoa—because they offer the best nutritional benefits. Those benefits translate into better physical and mental health.
Lean Proteins & Good Fats
Protein is central to our diet—whether you get it from meat or you practice a meat-free diet. We also require good fat because it provides omega fatty acids that help repair damaged tissue. So while you might not think of fish, eggs, or avocadoes when you think of holiday treats, keeping those sorts of food in the mix is what’s best for your overall well-being.
Leafy Greens & Colorful Produce
Even in wintertime, leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet that supports mental and physical health. Turning down a couple of cookies and munching an apple instead is a good way to keep your diet balanced. Remember, you don’t have to turn down all the cookies. Just make sure that cookies don’t become your primary means of sustenance this time of year.
Eating Right During the Holidays Is a Gift You Give Yourself
We want to reiterate that our point here is not to suggest you should deprive yourself of things you love to eat during the holidays. Instead, we are arguing for a balanced approach that maintains your physical and mental health. Given the sheer number of people who report mental health difficulties during the holiday season, anything you can do to boost your own mental well-being is a gift you should give yourself. Eating with care is one way to give yourself that boost.
Don’t Let Mental Health Disorders Eat Away at You
If you are struggling with a mental health disorder, we can help. At Peak View Behavioral Health, we have the experience and expertise to help you address depression, anxiety, trauma-based disorders, and more. We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all approaches to treatment, so we will listen to you with attention and then recommend a personalized treatment plan designed to provide you with strategies, resources, and support for building a better foundation for your mental health.