Children’s Sleep: Seven Health-Related Reasons Why It’s Important

Hello Everyone,

The kids are back to school today, and now it is highly important to establish a bedtime routine for them, if you don’t already have one. In today’s blog, we will be discussing the reasons why it is important for children to get enough sleep, and some research based on this.

Parents have always felt that sleep directly affects a child’s mood, and most would agree it’s got a big impact on learning and behaviour. But pediatric researchers’ latest findings suggest that sleep is also essential to good health. When kids get the sleep they need, they may have a lower risk of becoming overweight and developing diabetes as well as fewer learning problems and attention issues. Sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise. It’s when the body repackages neurotransmitters, chemicals that enable brain cells to communicate. And experts have recently been able to demonstrate that sleep allows brain cells to “take out the trash” each night, flushing out disease-causing toxins.

Perhaps the most startling news from this research is how quickly kids fall into the danger zone. The repercussions of sleep deprivation are visible after only four nights of one fewer hour of sleep per night, found a study from Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia. (This can happen during a school vacation, or when you have company for a holiday weekend, or even just by letting kids watch the World Series.) “I expected that we’d see some differences when kids get less sleep than usual,” says senior author Penny Corkum, Ph.D. “But finding that they’re so drastically affected in so short an amount of time is amazing.”

You may realize that your child could use more shut-eye, however, it can be very difficult to recognize all the ways that after-school and evening activities sabotage bedtime, and the damaging effects of allowing electronics into your kid’s bedroom. Below are 7 reasons why enough sleep is important for children’s health.

1. Sleep promotes growth.
You’ve probably had mornings where you’ve sworn your baby got bigger overnight, and you’d be right. “Growth hormone is primarily secreted during deep sleep,” says Judith Owens, M.D., director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. Mother Nature seems to have protected babies by making sure they spend about 50 percent of their time in this deep sleep, considered to be essential for adequate growth. Italian researchers, studying children with deficient levels of growth hormone, have found that they sleep less deeply than average children do.

2. Sleep helps the heart.
Experts are learning more about how sleep protects kids from vascular damage due to circulating stress hormones and arterial wall — damaging cholesterol. “Children with sleep disorders have excessive brain arousal during sleep, which can trigger the fight-or-flight response hundreds of times each night,” says Jeffrey Durmer, M.D., Ph.D., a sleep specialist and researcher in Atlanta. “Their blood glucose and cortisol remain elevated at night. Both are linked to higher levels of diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease.”

3. Sleep affects weight.
There’s increasing evidence that getting too little sleep causes kids to become overweight, starting in infancy. One study from Penn State Children’s Hospital has shown that when parents are coached on the difference between hunger and other distress cues and begin to soothe without feeding — using such techniques as swaddling and swinging — babies are more likely to be sound sleepers, and less likely to be overweight. Better yet? This coaching can begin when babies are 2 weeks old. The study followed the babies for a full year, and found that when parents used these techniques, it paid off. “Our intervention was the first to show that babies could actually be leaner in the first year,” says Ian Paul, M.D., lead author and professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine.

That’s key, because the sleep-weight connection seems to snowball. When we’ve eaten enough to be satisfied, our fat cells create the hormone leptin, which signals us to stop eating. Sleep deprivation may impact this hormone, so kids keep right on eating. “Over time, kids who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be obese,” says Dorit Koren, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist and sleep researcher at the University of Chicago.

Worn-out kids also eat differently than those who are well rested. “Research has shown that children, like adults, crave higher-fat or higher-carb foods when they’re tired,” Dr. Koren says. “Tired children also tend to be more sedentary, so they burn fewer calories.”

4. Sleep helps beat germs.
During sleep, children (and adults) also produce proteins known as cytokines, which the body relies on to fight infection, illness, and stress. (Besides battling illness, they also make us sleepy, which explains why having the flu or a cold feels so exhausting. It forces us to rest, which further aids the body’s ability to heal.) Too little sleep appears to impact the number of cytokines on hand. And it’s been found that adults who sleep fewer than seven hours per night are almost three times more likely to develop a cold when exposed to that virus than those who sleep eight or more hours. While there’s little data on young children, studies of teens have found that reported bouts of illness declined with longer nightly sleep.

5. Sleep reduces injury risk.
Kids are clumsier and more impulsive when they don’t get enough sleep, setting them up for accidents. One study of Chinese children found those who were short sleepers (i.e., fewer than nine hours per night for school-age children) were far more likely to have injuries that demanded medical attention. And 91 percent of kids who had two or more injuries in a 12-month period got fewer than nine hours of sleep per night.

6. Sleep increases kids’ attention span.
Children who consistently sleep fewer than ten hours a night before age 3 are three times more likely to have hyperactivity and impulsivity problems by age 6. “But the symptoms of sleep-deprivation and ADHD, including impulsivity and distractibility, mirror each other almost exactly,” explains Dr. Owens. In other words, tired kids can be impulsive and distracted even though they don’t have ADHD. No one knows how many kids are misdiagnosed with the condition, but ruling out sleep issues is an important part of the diagnosis, she says. For school-age kids, research has shown that adding as little as 27 minutes of extra sleep per night makes it easier for them to manage their moods and impulses so they can focus on schoolwork. Kids with ADHD also seem to be more vulnerable to the effects of too little sleep. Parents are almost three times as likely to report that their child with ADHD has a hard time falling and/or staying asleep than parents whose kids don’t have ADHD, says Dr. Owens.

7. Sleep boosts learning.
A baby may look peaceful when he’s sleeping, but his brain is busy all night long. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have shown that newborns actually learn in their sleep: Investigators played certain sounds for sleeping newborns, followed with a gentle puff of air on their eyelids. Within 20 minutes, the sleeping babies — who were between 1 and 2 days old — had already learned to anticipate the air puff by squinting. And as for that twitching all babies do as they snooze? It seems to be how their nervous system tests the connection between the brain and muscles.

Sleep aids learning in kids of all ages, and education experts are finding that naps have a particular magic. Neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst taught a group of 40 preschoolers a game similar to Memory. Then the kids took a nap (averaging 77 minutes) one week and stayed awake the other week. When they stayed awake they forgot 15 percent of what they’d learned, but when they napped they retained everything. The kids scored better on the game not only after they’d just woken up but the next day too.

Making sure families get enough sleep isn’t easy, especially with parents working longer hours, more elaborate after-school activities, bedrooms full of cool electronics, and the pressure to pack more into every day. “We’ve done a good job of teaching parents about why kids need to exercise and eat healthy foods,” says Dr. Corkum. “Still, the simple fact is that kids sleep less today than they used to. And unless we make an effort to get that sleep time back, their health will suffer.”

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Build a Better Bedtime

The nice news in all of this: From early on, there is plenty you can do to help your kids grow up loving their zzz’s.

  • Encourage self-soothing. Try not to let your infant fall asleep while eating, and put her to bed when she’s still awake. By 3 months, you should slow your response time when she wakes up crying at night. By 6 months, when most babies typically sleep through the night, consider giving up the monitor if your room isn’t very far away. Or you can turn the volume down. You’ll be less tempted to rush to your fussing baby, and she’ll be more likely to drift back to sleep on her own.
  • Create a solid routine. Children should have a consistent bedtime ritual by 3 months that lasts no more than 30 to 40 minutes, bath included, says Dr. Mindell. And for kids up to age 10, make sure bedtime is before 9 p.m. “Children who go to bed after 9 p.m. take longer to fall asleep, wake more often at night, and get less sleep overall,” she says. Dr. Durmer also suggests sticking with the usual bedtime sounds, like recorded ocean waves or a fan, and favorite sleep-time objects, such as a special blanket or pillow.
  • Set the stage for sleep. Try to maintain the same temperature and level of light in your child’s room, even when on vacation, says Dr. Durmer. Shut off screens too, because research is mounting about the light generated by computers and tablets: Just two hours of screen time right before bed is enough to lower levels of melatonin — a chemical that occurs naturally at night and signals sleep to the body — by 22 percent. Ditch devices after dinner.
  • Add another bedtime story. You already know reading to kids helps them learn, but hearing storybooks is a great way for kids to head off to dreamland. “Of all activities, reading printed books appears to be most relaxing,” says Michael Gradisar, a clinical psychologist at Flinders University, in Adelaide, Australia.
  • Run a sleep audit. It makes sense to periodically measure your child’s sleep time, especially if you’re seeing trouble signs. (Alas, you’ll need to do it the old-fashioned way: Wearable trackers can make mistakes with anyone, but they’re especially inaccurate on kids, who move around more in all stages of sleep. A study found that one such device underestimated kids’ sleep by an average of 109 minutes.)

“Parents may not identify a kid’s daytime meltdowns as a sleep-related problem,” says Ancy Lewis, a sleep coach in White Plains, New York. “However, when they track their child’s sleep and make a consistent effort to get him to bed an hour earlier for a week, the problems get much better.” This is especially helpful for preschoolers, who are transitioning away from naps. For older kids, each school year brings new activities and demands. Red flags include dozing off in front of the TV or in the car.

Special Needs and Sleep: A Connection

Children who have special needs often also have undiagnosed sleep-disordered breathing, including apnea and snoring, as well as multiple sleep-related disorders, says Dr. Jeffrey Durmer. Kids who snore are twice as likely to have a learning impairment; nearly two thirds of children with Down syndrome have sleep apnea. What’s more, anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of children who have autism spectrum disorder also have sleep problems, such as greater difficulty falling asleep and waking up more often during the night.

“Children who have special needs are more vulnerable to outbursts when they have changes in their sleep patterns,” says sleep coach Ancy Lewis, who has a son with special needs. “Sleep deprivation can worsen any challenges that these kids face.” So a regular sleep routine is even more important. In fact, a recent study concluded that providing families of children with autism with just an hour of individual coaching or four hours of group sleep coaching helps these kids sleep more consistently.

Slumber Numbers

Between 20 and 30 percent of children have experienced sleep problems, says Dr. Jodi Mindell. As many as 40 percent of kids have sleepwalked at least once, usually between the ages of 2 and 6, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And up to 6 percent may have night terrors. Some issues — like snoring — may seem harmless but can be a concern, so talk to your doctor if your child snores more than three nights per week.

Healthiest Regards

Nutrition Nourishment

Guilt-Free Easter Recipes: Egg-cellent Treats for the Family

Hello Everyone,

The kids are now officially on school holidays and Nutrition Nourishment will be posting child-specific blogs to help get beneficial advice regarding health and wellbeing. Keep an eye out for recipes, health advice, kids activities and back-to-school aid over the coming weeks.

Easter is only a round the corner. Do you feel you can’t indulge in traditional goodies with the kids without spoiling your diet? Well check below for these delicious gluten and dairy-free treats that will please the whole family!

Hopping Raw Chocolate Tahini Spread

If your a nutella lover, you’ll adore this nut-free, dairy-free chocolate fudgey spread. It can be used as a ganache on cakes, spread onto toast, accompanied as a dip with berries or even eaten within a spoon. See Below for recipe…

Ingredients:

1/4 C unhulled Tahini

1 Tsp Cold-pressed Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Tsp organic maple syrup or (rice malt syrup if fructose is an issue)

2 Tsp of raw organic Cacao powder

Method:

Step 1: Place Tahini, maple syrup and coconut oil into a food processor and blend to combine.

Step 2: Slowly add cacao powder to ensure a smooth consistency without any lumps.

Step 3: The mixture can be stored in the fridge to create a fudge consistency or stored in an air-tight container at room temperature to make for easy spreading. Enjoy!!!

Tip: to get into the easter spirit, why not roll the mixture up into small egg-shaped balls for a chocolate easter egg treat thats completely guilt free!!! This would make a lovely gift!

Bunny’s Grain-free Hot Cross Buns!!

Hot cross buns made in health heaven featuring gluten free, dairy free, high protein and low GI! Enjoy heated up with a spread of butter for a perfect compliment to a cup of tea or coffee. See below for recipe…

Ingredients: Fruit Buns

3 C Almond meal

1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt

1/2 tsp Baking soda

1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil, coconut oil or butter

2 Tsp Raw Honey, or Rice Malt Syrup

1 Orange, zested and juiced

1 tsp vanilla paste

3 Organic Free- ranged eggs

1 tsp ground Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp groung ginger

1 large Pear, finely diced

1 C Raisins

White- Chocolate Ganache: Cross

1/4 C Cacao Butter or Coconut Oil (melted)

1/4 C cashew butter or tahini

1/2 C Coconut cream, warmed

1 Tsp Raw Honey or Rice Malt Syrup

1/2 tsp Vanilla paste

Method:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 160 degree. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda, oil, honey, orange zest and juice, vanilla paste and eggs into a large mixing bowl and stir until combined.

Step 2: Add cinnamon and ginger spices, then the pear dices with raising and mix well to combine. (Using hands for this step may be helpful)

Step 3: use an ice-cream scoop to measure out equal rounds into a baking tray or a 12 muffin tin lined with baking paper.

Step 4: Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through.  Remove from oven and place on bench to cool.

Tip: Insert a clean sewer into the middle of the buns and if it comes out clean the buns are ready! You may even find covering the buns with foil will prevent over-browning of the top.

Step 5: To make ganache for the criss-cross, place all ingredients above into a food processor and blend until well combined.

Step 6: Allow the ganache mixture to cool slightly so it thicken into a piping consistency. Spoon into a piping bah and create the crosses on cooled buns. ENJOY!!!

Easter-ful Chocolate Cake

Completely guilt free chocolate cake for a wholesome and nutritious treat. It’s gluten free, dairy-free and high in proteins. This cake is sure to be a winner at your family gathering! See below for recipe….

Ingredients:

3 C Almond Meal

1/2 C Cacao Powder

2 tsp gluten-free baking powder or baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

4 Organic Free-Ranged Eggs

2 tsp vanilla Extract

1/c C Extra Virgin Olive Oil or melted butter

1/2 C Almond milk, or milk of choice

4 Tsp Raw Honey or Maple Syrup

Method:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 160 degree and line cake tin with baking paper.

Step 2: Combine almond meal, cacao, baking powder and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. For wet ingredients combine in a separate bowl, eggs, vanilla, oil/butter, milk and honey/maple. Mix to combine.

Step 3: Pour wet ingredient into dry mixture and mix. Pour into lined cake tray.

Step 4: bake for 45 mins or until cooked through, then remove from oven to cool on bench top.

Step 5: Once cooled, frost with hopping raw chocolate tahini spread for a delicious bunny-worthy family cake.

Nutrition Nourishment encourages the kids to join in the cooking fun for these delicious easter treats. This makes a wonderful and tasty school holiday activity to keep the kids busy, while providing some gorgeous treats for everyone!!

As Always

Healthiest Regards

Nutrition Nourishment

New Year’s Resolutions: The Process Of Goal Setting

Hello Everyone,

We’re Back! Hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year holiday, spending time with your loved ones, enjoying delicious food and spending time doing activities that makes you happy. Nutrition nourishment would like to welcome you to the very first blog of the new year. Our goal is to ensure you, the reader, have all the knowledge and tools available to you to help you achieve your goals and make 2017 a year full of gratitude, happiness, peace and success.

2016 has ended and many of us are gathering up our willpower for a brand new set of New Year’s resolutions. But have we learned from past experience? A large number, if not the majority, of previous resolutions were probably broken in weeks, days, or even hours. Well don’t feel bad because research shows only 8% of people actually achieve them.

How do those elite few actually achieve what they set out to do? Do they have a special system? More motivation? More time? What are their secrets? 

Nutrition nourishment is revealing the top 10 research-proven strategies to help you make 2017 your year of success; And it may not be as hard as you might think- there are some really easy ways to set yourself on the path to success.

1. Keep your Resolutions Simple

Sometimes people find themselves aiming for an overhaul of their entire lifestyle, and this is simply a recipe for disappointment and guilt. It may be understandable at this time of year, when self-improvement is on your mind, but experience shows these things can’t all be achieved at once. The best approach is to focus clearly on one or two of your most important goals.

2. Choose Carefully

But which to choose? Well, you might like to concentrate on those that will have the greatest impact on your happiness, health and fulfilment. For example, giving up smoking will obviously improve your health, but it will also give you a sense of pride and will make you happy (but perhaps not immediately!)

3. Be Realistic

Don’t aim too high and ignore reality – consider your previous experience with resolutions. What led to failure then? It may be that you resolved to lose too much weight or save an unrealistic amount of money. Remember, there will always be more opportunities to start on the next phase, so set realistic goals. Or if you don’t want to hold back, set clear short-term goals on your way to a big achievement. Which leads to tip number four.

4. Create Bite-sized portions

Break goals down to manageable chunks. This is perhaps the most essential ingredient for success, as the more planning you do now, the more likely you are to get there in the end. The planning process is when you build up that all-important willpower which you will undoubtedly need to fall back on along the way. Set clear, realistic goals such as saving $30 a month, or going for a run once a week. Decide exactly how you will make this happen.

5. Plan a time-Frame

In fact, the time-frame is vital for motivation. It is your barometer for success, the way you assess your short-term progress towards the ultimate long-term goal. Buy a calendar or diary so you can plan your actions for the coming weeks or months, and decide when and how often to evaluate.

6. Make Notes

Having made a note of your time-frame, you will have a physical reminder of what you’re aiming for. Now go further and write down the details of your resolutions in a notebook, remembering to add your motivations. You could keep a scrapbook for this purpose, and fill it with photos of your slimmer self, pictures of sporting or hobby equipment you are saving for, or even a shocking credit card statement to spur you into action! If your resolution will directly benefit your partner, children, colleagues or friends then add their photos too – anything to remind you of your initial motivation.

7. Don’t forget to treat yourself

When making your plan, a vital feature should be the rewards and treats you will give yourself at those all-important milestones. But be warned, don’t fall into the trap of putting your goal in danger – it’s too easy for a dieter to say “I’ve been so good, I deserve a few candy bars”, or a saver to throw caution to the wind with a new purchase. One slip, and it could all be over.

8. Seek Support

It is at such times, when you’ve temporarily fallen off the wagon, that your support network is crucial. Carefully choose those people around you who have shown themselves to be trustworthy, supportive friends and explain your plans. Let them know of ways they can help when the going gets tough, and if they’re truly caring they’ll know the right things to say during the hard times.

9. Don’t give up!!

Do bear in mind that a slip-up is almost inevitable at some point, and you must not let this become an excuse to give up. When it happens, you will need to draw on your reserves of self-belief and strength, so build these qualities as often as you can. Really feel proud of your past achievements and don’t become critical of yourself. People with higher self-esteem and confidence are in a much better position to succeed, so immediately forgive yourself and say “I’m starting again now!”

10. Put yourself in charge

These achievements are under your control – other people can advise and support you but it’s your actions which need to change to see the results you want. Having a strong sense of control over your life is necessary to stick with your plans. Those who blame everyone and everything apart from themselves will not have the resources needed to change. Yes, it’s scary to take responsibility for your future, but surely it’s better than the alternative?

Now you’ve read these tips, you are in a great position to consider the best ways to improve your life this New Year. Your happiness is worth the time and effort, so get started, and good luck! If you would like more information on goal setting please click on the links below. Wishing you all the best for the new year, and a happy and safe year ahead.

https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm

http://au.reachout.com/How-to-set-goals?gclid=CjwKEAiAkajDBRCRq8Czmdj-yFgSJADikZggmmey4YGrQqVgv_6PJnOBRmNf10Qe9CxzSD-W1d5DzhoCHlLw_wcB

http://www.yourcoach.be/en/coaching-tools/smart-goal-setting.php

Healthiest Regards

Nutritionnourishment

Recipe of the Week: Christmas Oat and Berry Cake

Hello everyone,

Christmas is only around the corner, It is the time to plan some healthy christmas baking treats to share with the family. This lovely cake is packed full of nutrients and is refined-sugar free and gluten-free! The oats and almond meal add fibre to the dish, while the delicious mix of fruits add a mixed of sweetness, and the seeds provide protein and essential minerals, along with adding texture to the cake. This is sure to be a favourite at your Christmas/Holiday Gathering!!! See Below for Recipe!!

 

CHRISTMAS OAT AND BERRY CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups of Organic Steel Cut Rolled Oats

1 1/2 Cups of Almond Meal

2 tbps Baking Powder/Soda

Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt

1 tbsp Vanilla Extract

1 tbsp Cinnamon

1/2 Tbsp Nutmeg

1 Cup of Rice Malt Syrup (You may choose to use Honey, Maple Syrup or Golden Syrup)

1/2 Cup of Grated Carrot

3 x Organic free-range eggs

1 Cup of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil (You may choose Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

TOPPINGS:

1 Punnet of Fresh Organic Blueberries, washed

1 Punnet of Fresh Organic Raspberries, washed

1 Punnet of Fresh Organic Strawberries, washed

1/4 Cup of Pumpkin seeds (pepita seeds)

1/4 Cup of Chia Seeds

1/4 Cup Almonds

METHOD:

Step 1: Pre-Heat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius and lightly grease a round or square cake pan.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients together and stir until combined.

Step 3: Pour mixture into the greased cake tin and level out smooth with a spoon.

Step 4: Sprinkle Berries, seeds and nuts over the top of the batter and press down gently so they are half covered in batter.

Step 5: Place in oven and cook for approx. 30-40 minutes until lightly brown onto and when a skewer is placed in the middle comes out clean.

Step 6: Allow to cool and enjoy with your favourite custard, ice-cream, cream or simply on its own!! Since it’s christmas you may even like to serve with brandy custard!!

Notes

Gluten-Free: If you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, make sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are often processed in a plant that also handles gluten. To be on the safe side, purchase gluten-free rolled oats for peace of mind.

Vegan: Make this baked oatmeal recipe vegan by swapping the eggs for alternatives such as pureed apple, mashed banana, avocado or chia eggs.

We hope your’ve enjoyed this week’s recipe and look forward to seeing your creations. You can add pictures of your cooking from our recipes on our Facebook page ‘Nutritionnourishment’ or tag on instagram ‘gypsy_warrior’ and hashtag #nutritionnourishment

As always our Healthiest Regards

Nutritionnourishment

 

Christmas Survival Guide: 10 Jolly Good Tips to Staying Sane.

Hello Everyone,

While Christmas can be an exciting time, it can also be a big cause of stress for many of us with financial difficulties, gift-buying pressures and not to mention gained weight. To take the stress out of the festive season and enjoy a happier, chilled christmas, nutrition nourishment is providing the essential ‘Christmas Survival Guide: 10 Jolly Good Tips to Staying Sane’.  Read below to ensure your holidays are filled with festive joy!

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JOLLY TIP #1: Financial difficulties

There’s no denying it; Christmas can certainly wreak havoc on our finances, with gifts to buy, nights out to attend, and food and drink to stock up on, (not to mention all the bills arriving). However, it is important not to let financial pressures ruin your Christmas. Before you start making your festive purchases, try to write a list of everything you need to buy and set a realistic budget for each item. If you find that your list is going to blow your Christmas budget, try to find some ways to cut back on gifts, such as by making homemade presents, looking for bargains online, or organising a Secret Santa for friends or siblings, rather than buying for each individual.

JOLLY TIP #2:Family tensions

If the time spent with your extended family over Christmas always results in arguments, tears or tension-fuelled frosty silences, this can lead you to approach Christmas with a sense of apprehension or dread. To help cut out stress this Christmas, try to prepare yourself and have realistic expectations of your family. Accept that they are not perfect and that they will probably say things that you don’t like, but make a decision to try not to let it spoil your day. To help keep the peace, try your best to steer clear of risky conversation topics – and alcohol – which may provoke rows, and keep everyone occupied with fun sports or games after your meal. If you feel your stress levels rising, try to take a few moments to yourself and take some deep breaths to help you RELAX!!

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JOLLY TIP #3: Pace Yourself

Are you guilty of telling yourself “This year I will not put on weight” or “I’ll worry about it in the new year”? every year at christmas time, only to fail?

So what’s the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it’s just a kilogram or so? According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Australians never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The kilos add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.

But you don’t have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single kilogram. Portion control is the key. You can still enjoy there sweet indulgences that you enjoy, just remember to have small amounts. The easiest way to be able to enjoy yourself with food is to PACE yourself. Christmas meals are meant to be a social gathering. Take the time to enjoy family and friends and socialise, while enjoying every mouthful of your food. Listen to your body cues, It will signal when it has had enough. Drink plenty of water and laugh. Another tip is to put your fork down between every bite and savour the food in your mouth before taking another. ENJOY YOUR FOOD!!!

JOLLY TIP #4: Social obligations

While christmas time is meant to be social, gathered by friends and family, alot of us find that the festive period is met with an overwhelming amount of demands on our time. There are work parties to attend, friends to meet up with, and the question of who to see on Christmas day. To minimize your risk of double booking yourself over this busy period, try to keep a diary or calendar displaying all your planned events so far. You could also try combining events and mixing groups of friends, if you think they will get along. Also, remember that not all your events need to be squeezed into the lead-up to Christmas. Make full use of December by scheduling some events before and after the big day. Have Fun, Laugh, Commit to Enjoying the Holidays.Give in a Way that Gives you Joy instead of out of Obligation.

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JOLLY TIP #5: Be Alcohol Smart

Alcohol contains empty kilojoules that aren’t utilised in the body for biological functions such as muscle/cell building, energy or metabolism. Instead it hangs around in your blood, until the liver breaks it down, causing dehydration, and interfering with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. Not to mention many of the popular alcoholic beverages for the holiday season are full of kilojoules leading to added fat cells in the body. Be smart with your alcohol choices, and never drink in excessive.

JOLLY TIP #6: Exercise

The holiday season can be busy and exhausting. Sometimes it just seems like you don’t have the time or the energy to exercise. Ironically, one of the ways to fix flagging energy is by exercising. Don’t skip on your regular exercise routine no matter how busy you are. Even if you only have 30 minutes, take those 30 minutes and get active. Walk around your neighborhood and look at Christmas lights. Use the opportunity of enjoying time with your family by playing cricket together out the backyard, riding bikes together, going swimming together. Make it fun! Christmas isn’t just about eating together, it is about spending time with company. Make it active.

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JOLLY TIP #7: Allow mess

Check your perfectionism at the door. Are you a working woman who is comparing her baking and tree-trimming efforts with those of someone who doesn’t have a full-time job—or with the way your stay-at-home mother handled the holidays? Are you envisioning your Christmas party right out of a movie? We put so much of this pressure on ourselves!
Christmas is a children’s holiday as well, don’t get too stressed about the place being a mess for a day or half a day. Children are messy and want to play NOW and don’t care about clearing up, allow them to be a bit messy for a day then kick butt on Boxing Day. (Or in the New Year).

JOLLY TIP #8: Breathe and Be Happy 

Stay Present ‘Be in the Moment’, Enjoy the company, the food and the gifts. The more you are in the moment with awareness, the less you are caught up in the mind and all the things you still have to do or haven’t done yet. Be aware of your breathing. If it becomes short and shallow, you know you are getting anxious. Stop what you are doing and take a breathing break. You will enjoy the time much more.Take Breathing Breaks. Whenever you get a chance, take breathing breaks….not only when you feel yourself getting anxious. Make the time for them, even if it is only 5 minutes at a time, it will re-invigorate you. You can do it anywhere, just find a quiet spot. It will get you back into the present and out of your head and will help you let go of worries and tension. Be Thankful. It is always good to put things in perspective and realize how lucky you are that your basic needs are being met and that you are actually able to celebrate the way you can. Add up all the things that you are grateful for, for instance, family, friends, loved ones, the fact that you can celebrate etc….it will put you in a good mood.

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JOLLY TIP #9: Get Good Sleep 

Holiday celebrations can often disrupt regular sleep patterns. Try to get to sleep at the same time every night. Avoid heavy foods, sugary sweets and alcohol before bedtime as these can disturb your sleep. Try to relax before bedtime. Use this time when the kids are in bed to relax with your partner, enjoy a cup of herbal tea, soak in a bath, watch a movie or read a favourite book. What makes you happy and relax? Do not forget about your own health and sanity.

JOLLY TIP #10: Remember to stop and smell the Holly.

There can be moments of complete joy that seem to make time stop. Often these are unplanned and unexpected. It could be a warm, sticky chocolately hand slipping into yours at the dinner table as your niece sidles up to give you some love. It could be the fact that while you have been beavering away in the kitchen that someone has left you a heart shaped message on the frost on your car windscreen. It could be just waking up and feeling the warmth of the sun through the curtains on a new day. These moments are easily missed but when we give them our full attention and take the time to notice them and savour them, Christmas comes alive.

Christmas time can come along with heap loads of expectations, from what presents we will give and receive, to how many times we have asked for help in the kitchen. Letting go of expectations and simplifying life creates ease and space in which to pause and enjoy moments of  togetherness when they arise, which, after all, is the true message of Christmas.

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May your mince pies be tasty, your Christmas cake fruity and your heart full of Love.

Healthiest Regards

Nutritionnourishment