I absolutely love this time of year. There's an excitement in the air and everyone is making lovely plans to spend time with their special people. Colourful lights are being put up on houses and beautiful Christmas trees are being sold on almost every street corner. It certainly is a very festive affair!
Warning: Downer alert!
However, this time of year can be more about excess than anything else. Children receive a gazillion presents because it's 'fun' for them to open so many on Christmas morning and makes them happy. I've found that this actually has the opposite effect. They lose the ability to enjoy their gifts because there are just too many. In my experience, they become overwhelmed and ungrateful. All these gifts also cause a huge amount of clutter and half of them are in the bin a week later.
The food needs to be plentiful so that there is enough for three days worth of left overs. It also needs to be rich, indulgent and sugar laden. What's Christmas without bowls of chocolate lying around? Not to mention that the body is asked to cope with inordinately high doses of sugar and saturated fat for an extended period of time.
It's also a time during which we give ourselves permission to overindulge and eat far more than we normally eat to the detriment of our gut health and waistlines. Our bodies simply cannot process this amount of food effectively and it ends up causing problems. For starters, we feel exhausted and moody. Our MS symptoms may begin to rear their ugly heads again and we will not be quipped to handle the extra amount of stress.
We also feel financial stress and pressure at this time. Credit cards are maxed and the debt starts to pile up. We're all happy and jolly until the reality hits us in January and the hard slog of paying it all off begins.
Why do we need it to be this way? Can we not just keep it simple but nice and have the focus on togetherness, fun memories and the belief that there is something more meaningful to life than just gifts and indulgent food? I know it's easy to get caught up in this festive madness. I've succumbed to it many a Christmas. However, each year, I get better and better at sticking to what I know is best for my family, my body and my bank balance.
The Meaning of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is not only about sitting quietly, closing your eyes and meditating. It can be something you do while you clean your house or play a game with your children. It refers to the ability to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It's about staying in touch with what's going on around us and inside us.
It's exceptionally important that we listen to our bodies and the subtle messages they are trying to tell us. Our bodies strive towards balance and wholeness and if we listen to them and take the appropriate action, there is a good chance that we won't end up being sucked in to the madness that is the Christmas season.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance. This means that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them, without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. This means that we can enjoy the 'moment'. When we're with our friends we're not fretting about those ten starters that still need to be plate. Nope, a simpler option has been opted for which allows us to enjoy these meaningful moments untainted.
I read an article last night by an extremely mindful mother who has chosen to give her children FOUR gifts according this little rhyme
One thing you want
One thing you need
One thing to wear
One thing to read
I absolutely love this philosophy on giving Christmas gifts mindfully. This is just enough in my opinion. Each gift is thoughtfully chosen with a purpose in mind and not just grabbed from a toyshop shelf because you don't think you have enough gifts. I'm super guilty of last minute snatch gifts that are totally unnecessary because I already have far too many.
Even if you don't have children, I feel that this rule would be great for adults to adhere to for each other.
This lovely Mum takes it a step further and gives her children a photo book of the past year's memories as the 'something to read' and an experience as the 'something they need'. This could be a fun family outing to a theme park or a theatre show.
It's mindful and well thought out. These little differences keep the balance in place during the most frenzied time of the year.
Don't get caught up in the chocolates, candies, treats and huge, heavy meals. You want to be able to feel your best and have enough energy to cope effectively with the increased activity. Here are some tips to keeping yourself mindful with your eating
1. Plan Your MS diet Christmas Menu
Make sure you know exactly what you're going to eat for snacks, starters, mains and dessert. These should be dishes that make you feel good and that you know are not going to use a flare in your symptoms. Try them out beforehand if you need to. Do a test run if you're making a new dish. Just to make sure it isn't a flop and that you love it!
2. Have some healthy treats waiting in the wings
My best trick is to bring out my gorgeous kale chips or cacao power balls when everyone else is snacking on chips and chocolates. It's so funny because it actually makes them realise that they would rather have the healthier option and are very happy to swap the unhealthy for the healthy.
3. Listen to your body
If you've overdone it on one particular day, pay attention to that toxic feeling and do some cleansing the following day. Bring things back into balance quickly. If you don't, the consequences could be dire.
4. Stick to your MS diet
Don't be tempted to revert to your old sugar laden ways. Christmas is not an excuse to eat any of the nasties that you've decided to give up. With so many yummy alternatives on offer, you don't need to. You want to be feeling your best during this time. Healthy, clean food will help you to sleep better and will give you more energy to enjoy the flurry of festive activities.
The MS Diet Advent Calendar
I'm super excited about this project! My children are itching to start opening their chocolate advent calendars on the 1st December and I've seen that they come in many other shapes, sizes and themes. I love the little set of advent calendar drawers or pouches that you can put something special in for every day. These needn't be new things but special trinkets and memories - a note, a little toy or parts of a set. Loving this advent calendar thing!
It dawned on me that I could do something similar for MS diet for Women - something uplifting that will help you to stay mindful and focused during the run up to Christmas. I have devised 24 very special surprises that will come to you by email every day. Some them will be delicious, healthy and festive recipes and others will be inspiring stories of healing. Yet others will give you a key step to take for effectively managing your MS.
I hope you love this idea as much as I do! If you're keen to receive the MS Diet Advent Calendar emails then please sign up below. If you are currently a subscriber or member, you'll already be on the list and you'll get the email automatically. The first email will be delivered to your inbox on the 1st December.
I just know that the act of preparing each email will increase my mindfulness this Christmas and hopefully yours as you're going through them. I'm excited to hear your stories of mindfulness this Christmas.
Love & Nutrients