Dealing with Holiday Grief

For many people, the holidays are a season of happiness, celebration, and family gatherings.  For those who have experienced loss, the glimmer of holiday lights and decorations can evoke feelings of loneliness and sadness, reflecting on memories of past times. How can we celebrate a holiday while also mourning the loss of someone close to us?  Here are some tips for getting through the season for facing grief during the holiday season.

For those who have experienced loss, the glimmer of holiday lights and decorations can evoke feelings of loneliness and sadness, reflecting on memories of past times.

 

Plan ahead:

Typically during the holidays, we can predict the days that will be most difficult for us.  Do your best to plan ahead; set aside some time alone if necessary or schedule your trip to the cemetery.  If you know certain parts of the holiday won’t be the same, create new traditions or incorporate times of remembrance.

Externalize your grief:

Grief.com has some positive ideas about how to mark the loss of a loved one.  Some of these ideas include lighting a candle or saying a prayer for the loved one before the holiday meal.  You may also choose to include others by having everyone share a positive memory or funny story about the person.

Take a break: 

Grief.com also suggests cancelling the holiday.  The beauty of holidays is that they come back every year, so if you decide you need a year off from hosting Thanksgiving dinner or you are just not up for traveling this December, take some time off.  It is important to remember that any feeling shouldn’t remain stored up inside.  Choosing to cancel or postpone a holiday celebration is not selfish but rather a positive form of self-care.

It is important to remember that the holidays are a time of celebration but can also be a time of difficulty.  Be aware of your own feelings and also the feelings of others.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to a loved one who may be struggling this holiday season and be sure to take care of yourself.

Happy Holidays!

Brian Gazdziak, LCSW

Resource http://grief.com/grief-the-holidays

 

 

Figgie’s Favorite Things 2014 (Part 2)

I’m back to with the second installment of my favorite things. Enjoy!

6. Tupperware. I know it sounds boring, but it’s a great idea to invest in some good Tupperware. Now you can pack delicious leftovers to take for lunch and avoid going through a fast food drive-thru. Personally, I like the ones with the snap-tabs on the lids.

7. Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple. Danielle Walker continues to be one of my go-to inspirations for gluten-free and grain-free recipes. Her new book was released this fall!

8. Yoga Blocks. These items are on my wish-list this year. Since I still do not have the best flexibility to achieve perfect form with all the different yoga poses, these blocks allow me to modify poses so that I can still achieve a good stretch while keeping good form.

9. Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes. This book provides some interesting insight into today’s obesity problem. While it is not a diet book, it does bring to light some important issues that can be addressed regarding our daily habits. Many health practitioners will argue with points that Taubes brings up; however, these points do make great topics of conversation.

10. Rumble Roller. This takes foam rolling to the next level. The elevated bumps on the roller can help target deeper layers of the muscle tissues compared to traditional foam rollers. While many of us are sensitive to deep tissue massage, this product is great f0r releasing tension and tightness in our overused muscles. I have the Compact Original and use it almost every day.

11. Yummi Yogi Cookie Cutters Yes, I know cookies are not the ideal symbol of health and wellness, but with these cute yoga cookie cutters, you’ll be reminded of the importance of a balanced lifestyle the next time you indulge!

Figge’s Favorite Things PART TWO

Figge’s Favorite Things 2014 (Part 1)

Can you believe it is that time of year again? This is the first year that I did not participate in Black Friday shopping. I decided last year was going to be the last after seeing four car accidents on my short 10-mile drive to the mall; plus, shopping online was way more convenient and less stressful! Hopefully, you have already gotten a jump-start on your Christmas and holiday shopping, but in case you are still looking, here is a list full of gifts that will inspire health and wellness for 2015!

Figge’s Favorite Things 2014

  1. Spiralizer. This is one of the simplest ways to cut out processed foods from your diet. With a Spiralizer, you create fresh, low-carb and more nutritious dishes such as making noodles from zucchini or butternut squash instead of using pasta. The Spiralizer will help create fun textures that can jazz up old, boring dishes. For example, try Spiralizing some carrots and beets to add on top of salads.
  2. TRX Bands. Don’t have a gym membership or want to avoid the New Year’s gym crowds? You can create total body workouts that improve balance, core strength and challenge your muscles in ways you never have before. Traveling with them is super easy since they fold up tightly into a small cinch pouch.
  3. Emulsion Blender. This was one of my favorite gifts I received last year. With it, I make homemade salad dressings, mayonnaise and sauces. You can also use it to puree vegetables to add to sauces to increase nutritional value.
  4. Pocket Dietitian smartphone application. This app can help make day to day dietary decisions much easier for individuals with a combination of diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease (CKD). When someone has both diabetes and CKD, many dietary recommendations will contradict one another. Using the app will help guide individuals in their food choices and even provide recommended products that are suitable for their conditions.
  5. Banana Grams and Game of Things. These are by far two of my favorite games to play. Too often when we socialize, we do it around food and usually at a restaurant. Next time you want to gather the family or friends together, offer to host a game night where healthy treats can be prepared and abdominal workouts will occur from all the belly-laughs you’ll be having.

Figge’s Favorite Things PART ONE

Stay tuned next week to see 5 more of my favorite things! Happy shopping!

Think Healthy for the Holidays!

Looking to make something healthy and creative for your friends and family this holiday season? Watch this video  to learn about healthy choices plus see how easy it is to whip up this fun holiday treat.

7-Layer Lemon Hummus & Pesto Yogurt Dip

Ingredients
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 T tahini (sesame seed paste found in the ethnic food section, or use unsweetened almond butter)
1 lemon separated into 1 tsp grated zest, 3 T juice
3 T organic or reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup basil pesto
1 cup shredded (not grated) Parmesan cheese (or use crumbled feta for a stronger taste)
1 large tomato, seeded, diced 1/4 inch (1 cup)
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded with a spoon, and diced (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced

For dipping
Serve grilled or toasted whole-grain pita chips or flatbread torn into pieces
Romaine hearts

Directions
1. To make the hummus: Purée chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, broth, salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Drizzle in olive oil. Spread hummus evenly in the bottom of a 9- X 9-inch glass dish.

2. Stir together yogurt and pesto and spoon over hummus. Evenly sprinkle the cheese, followed by single layers of tomato, cucumber, scallions, and olives. Enjoy this dish on the same or the next day for optimal freshness.

*Note: For a more festive look, use a trifle-style glass bowl rather than a square baking dish. It makes for a great-looking potluck contribution.

Nutrient Analysis per 1/4-cup serving
Calories: 77; Total fat: 5 g; Sat fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 4 mg; Sodium: 243 mg; Total carbohydrate: 5 g; Dietary fiber: 1 g; Protein: 4 g

— Recipe reprinted with permission from Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes With Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love by Michelle Dudash, RDN (Fair Winds Press, December 2012) 

Your Holiday Swapportunities!

The holidays are a special time of year in which we celebrate with families and friends and good food. It’s perfectly fine to indulge a little bit on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but make sure you are not indulging Thanksgiving through Christmas. While losing weight during the holiday season may be too stressful of a goal, just maintaining one’s weight can also prove to be its own challenge. Two major culprits to weight gain during this time of year are increased caloric intakes (from dishes with excessive carbs and fat) and decreased physical activity levels. Staying healthy this time of year is much easier than one may think. All it takes is a few food swaps and better exercise patterns.

Food Swaps

food3_MP9004117011. Bring on the vegetables! Vegetables are such a great food group in our diets because they are low in calories, generally lower in carbohydrates and pack in a ton of vitamins and minerals. Add 1 cup of cooked winter squash and 1 cup of tossed green salad to your plate for healthy carbs, fiber and nutrients. Adding mushrooms, onions, shredded carrots and zucchini to meat dishes can help cut down the fat and calories per serving.

2. Swap vegetables for common starches. Swap 1 cup of spaghetti squash for 1 cup of pasta and save 158 calories. Ask for a lettuce wrap instead of bread with your next sub sandwich order and save up to 350 calories. (Calorie count based off of a regular Jimmy John’s sandwich vs. their un-wich variety)

3. Pull out the yolks. I love a protein-powered breakfast with eggs, but if you are using multiple eggs, the calories can add up quickly. For every egg yolk you take out, you save 55 calories.

4. Swap nuts for empty snack foods like pretzels and crackers. This swap may not change the amount of calories you are consuming, but it will improve the type of calories you are taking in. Nuts are full of nutrients, protein and fiber; and they have a lot more staying power than a handful of pretzels.

5. Be mindful of your breads. Did you know that a bagel has more than double the amount of calories of an English muffin? The thickness of your bread also raises the amount of calories it has in it. If you’re big on sub sandwiches, try scooping out some of the excess bread from the top bun which will reduce the amount of carbs and calories with your meal.

Recipe Swaps

1. Try using plain yogurt for sour cream or mayonnaise in recipes. This will lighten the calories of your dish plus add some protein, calcium and Vitamin D.

2. Substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg in a recipe. Save calories and fat by taking advantage of this healthy swapportunity.

3. Use prune puree in place of oil in chocolate desserts. At first glance, this swap seems pretty terrifying, but I was totally hooked after I made a batch of chocolate fudge brownies with this alternative. Reduce the fat in your recipe in half and replace with ¼ of prune puree. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of oil, reduce to ½ cup and add ¼ cup of prune puree.

4. Use a can of diet soda in place of oils. Choose a diet cola for chocolate desserts and diet Mountain Dew for light-colored desserts. Mix one can of diet soda with one box of cake/cupcake mix and bake as directed. This is an old Weight Watchers trick that my mom used to use. While it is still not the healthiest of dessert options, it does slash the amount of fat and calories in the recipe.

5. Use ground turkey, ground chicken or lean ground beef in stews and casseroles. A lot of people have a hard time switching to turkey or chicken burgers because the lack of fat in the meat causes them to dry out very easily. It’s best to use these substitutes when making a dish with a sauce component such as spaghetti sauce, chili or a casserole. The moisture of the sauce will help keep these leaner meat selections from drying out. Remember to look for all-white meat varieties. Regular ground chicken is made from a blend of both white and dark meat chicken so it has potential to contain just as much fat and calories as ground beef varieties.

Figge’s Favorite Things (Part One)

Julie Andrews has her raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Oprah endorses her list of goodies and gifts to give during the holiday season. Here is my personal list of favorite things to keep you happy and healthy this season.

pigeon pose1. Yoga Mat Back Pain. Does it need any more of an introduction? After years of putting up with my chronic back pain, I decided to see a physical therapist. I learned that I have extremely tight quads, hamstrings and hip flexors (mainly from sitting all day long at work) and my remedy was a simple, daily stretching routine. Since that visit, I am now stretching those muscles on a regular basis and my back hasn’t been complaining since. Using a yoga mat, my favorite stretches to perform are the couch stretch, pigeon pose and a deep runner’s lunge which all target my hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps muscles. You can usually find yoga mats for a cheaper price at stores like TJ Maxx or Gordmans.

2. Garlic Press This is a kitchen utensil that is used quite frequently in our household. It’s a quick, convenient way to add flavor to meat and vegetables dishes. In addition to flavor, garlic provides health benefits such as reducing cholesterol, helps prevent blood clots and has anti-cancer benefits.

3.
ch-4dcFood processor I love my Cuisinart food processor. It’s a fantastic way to puree nutritious vegetables into soups and sauces.  

LW6A33S_011432_14. Lululemon Journey Crop  The Lululemon journey crop pants are by far my favorite workout pants I’ve ever had and they are perfect for any type of workout. The quality of the fabric far surpasses other brands of fitness attire and I’ve had some of my Lululemon pants for as long as 6 years.

bbcl_28_bk_15. Blender Bottle This is a perfect way to consume your protein shake after a great workout. I purchased my blender bottle from Bed Bath and Beyond and was able to use my 20% off coupon on it.

51BMhLEFqwL._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_6. Against All Grain cookbook  This is one of my favorite cookbooks and my favorite website to go to for grain-free and dairy-free meals. These meals are great for individuals with food allergies to dairy or gluten or for those looking to create dishes that use minimally processed food ingredients.

Check out Part 2 of Figge’s Favorite things.