The art of non-caloric nourishment feeds those parts of you that can never be satisfied with food.
The holiday season is officially here and if like many people, you celebrated its arrival with a huge Thanksgiving feast, then you may also be focused on how you’ll make it through to the New Year without going overboard with eating, especially since so much holiday food can be on the unhealthy side. However, this is also a time of great opportunity to feed yourself in a way that relieves stress, doesn’t pack on the pounds, and in fact, is actually heart healthy. Here are some strategies to get you through the holidays that will increase your level of happiness and satisfaction amidst the coming chaos, that are good for your heart:
1. Perform a deliberate act of kindness - Just before Thanksgiving, I knew I was meeting up with someone who goes above and beyond for me–and doesn’t have to. When I walked in the door with some beautiful flowers, her face lit up and she said that the gift made her day. It was the best part of my day too. Call or send a card to someone you’ve been thinking about to let them know. It will make your heart swell.
2. Appreciate and honor your impact - Every year around Christmas I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and every year I cry like a baby because it always reminds me that we all influence each other in so many ways that we’re not aware of. Every thought that leads to an action that leads to an interaction–whether through words or gestures, could make the difference between someone falling through the ice and drowning or going on to become a hero (I love that movie!). Being mindful of your actions will help you make better choices and enable you to feel good about yourself.
3. Receive graciously - The holiday is all about giving, yet with so much giving going on, someone must be doing the receiving. In Gay Hendricks’ book, The Big Leap, one way that we stop the flow of positive energy towards us is by deflecting, for example, a compliment. Dismissing kind words or even love are forms of resistance that can actually contribute to disease because of the negative emotions associated with them. Yet, the more you allow yourself to receive, the more you open the channels for more good to come your way–and the happier you’ll be.
4. Be grateful - Sometimes we get so caught up in our own drama that we unnecessarily create excess stress and prevent ourselves from seeing how good we actually have it. Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to shift your perspective on your situation and is also a receiving process that opens the channels for more to be grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal and write in it every day to keep the habit going. Writing in your journal before bed also reduces stress and will help you sleep better, which are both heart healthy.
5. Be good to yourself - The holiday season is all about giving of yourself yet the shopping, wrapping, cooking, volunteering, and partying can leave you exhausted and empty. You can’t give what you don’t have, so refill the well regularly with self-care. Exercise, put your feet up with your favorite cup of tea and a good book or movie, treat yourself to a massage, and nourish your cells with good food. It may seem impossible to eat healthy this time of year, but if you think of the holiday season as approximately 40 days with roughly 120 meals, there’s plenty of opportunity to make good choices. Not only will you make it through the holidays healthier, you’ll enjoy them much more!
6. Forgive someone - Nothing can weigh us down and impact our cardiovascular health like the negativity associated with anger, bitterness, and resentment towards someone who has hurt or betrayed us in some way. You may have heard the expression by Buddha that "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; [except] you are the one who gets burned.” Negative feelings create bad biochemistry in the body that can get stored as toxicity and contribute to disease. And think about all the space and energy those bad feelings are taking up in your life. If this sounds familiar to you, think about the benefits you will receive by forgiving someone. That’s not to say that forgiveness is instantaneous; however, you can begin the process with an intention or a decision, and then work through it, for example, by journaling or writing a letter to the person and then burning it. Over time, you’re heart will feel much lighter.
7. Indulge - In your feelings, that is. The holidays have a way of bringing those deep, uncomfortable feelings bubbling up to the surface. Sadness, regret, longing–whatever it may be; like the anger or bitterness around forgiveness, they take up room and require lots of energy to suppress. And if the physical consequences from ignoring your emotions aren’t bad enough, if you choose to stuff them back down with excess eggnog or pumpkin pie, you only multiply the negative impact they have on your body, mind, and spirit. As Oscar Wilde said, “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.” You’re here to experience life through your senses, so rather than ignore or resist your feelings, instead, invite them up and let them flow. Identify how they show up in your body and let them fully live out their lifespan. When you can accept and appreciate your emotions, they’ll become a source of healing rather than harm.
When you begin to accept and regularly practice the art of non-caloric nourishment to feed those parts of you that can never be satisfied with food, you’ll be taking care of your heart on physical, emotional and spiritual levels and this is far more powerful than any deprivation diet ever will be. If you’re looking for support around this area, I’d love to help you make it a reality. It can begin with a conversation. Many blessings for a happy and healthy holiday season…