The holidays have come and gone. All the months of excited anticipation and preparation are over in (what seemed like) a blink of an eye. I usually call this time of the year my “blue mood” time. I generally feel a little sad and depressed during this period. Apparently I am not the only one that can feel this let down. According to an article on http://www.psychcentral.com, the possible causes of post-holiday depression are "unmet expectations, unrealistic resolutions, and a return of loneliness and guilt about overindulgence." Many of my patients (and, ok, myself) admit to straying from the practice of healthy eating during this time of year. It is easy to feel discouraged when your work pants fit a little snug on your first day back. Some people will then “resolve” to lose weight/hit the gym and will strive to lose large amounts of weight in short periods of time. When those goals cannot be met (or if met, not sustained for long) this can leave on discouraged and exhausted and even more “down” than when they started.

My advice after weeks of indulging in sugary desserts, skimping on fruits and veggies, and skipping the gym? Have patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Make your goals realistic. If you don’t normally like going to the gym, don’t resolve to go there 5-7 days a week. Find another activity that you DO like to do and then aim for participating in that 3-5 days a week. If you enjoy sweets, do not resolve to eliminate them from your diet all together. I recommend doing an inventory of how often you have been consuming sweets (i.e. every day after dinner or two times a day) and then aim to limit that to one serving, 3-4 days a week. This will help to get your blood sugar levels back in check and will hopefully reduce any significant cravings that you may be having.

Try to be more mindful this time of year. One thing I realized that I did over the holidays was eat at a much faster pace than I normally do and then not really remember tasting my food. I think this was because I was talking a lot during my meals and was focusing mostly on the conversation and not what I was eating. One thing I am going to try to do now is to slow down at meals. Neuroscientist and author Darya Rose was speaking about mindful eating on one of my favorite podcasts; she had a great suggestion that I am going to try to implement into my eating practice. She remarked that many of us take a bite of food, chew, and then immediately take our fork and spear more food to have another bite ready. She remarked that it is really hard to focus on the flavor of the bite that you just took because you were busy getting a second bite ready. The takeaway message for me? Bite, chew, and pause. Put your fork down if needed but try to intentionally taste your food before getting a second bite ready.

Shifting your perspective can help brighten moods as well. I tend to be a “glass half empty” gal so I decided that I needed to practice gratitude. I feel best when I focus on finding gratitude about the things that I appreciate most in life. So I decided that once a day I would write down something that I was grateful for that day, fold it up on a small piece of paper and put it in a gratitude jar. Seeing the paper add up will remind me to focus on the positive and not the negative. Finding joy in little things, slowing down when eating, and setting realistic goals can certainly help lift your spirits during this time of year!

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