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The holidays are right around the corner and it’s time to be joyous. But when you’re a woman living with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the holidays can also be stressful. There are things to do, people to meet, parties to attend and host, and family traditions to keep. Add to it temptations galore that make you want to ditch your PCOS diet and sleep routine to party all night with friends and family, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a stressful time! And we already know — added stress is not good for our PCOS. With that in mind, we have put together these travel tips for PCOS so that you can maintain your weight, health, stress levels and sanity while being able to enjoy the Holidays!
It’s the Holidays, and that means there’s going to be plenty of food indulges involved! Try and stick to your PCOS diet as much as possible. One of the easiest ways to avoid holiday temptations is to boost your fiber intake. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and whole grains ensures that you are fuller for longer and can easily pass on that delectable sugar-laden Christmas cookie. Of course, there will be some sweet treats involved, but it’s ok to indulge when you do it mindfully. Make sure you add that brownie into your daily calorie intake, and adjust your other meals accordingly. However, it is best to keep indulges to a minimum, since your PCOS diet doesn’t exactly gel well with sugars, refined carbs and unhealthy fats. An easy way to have a healthier Holiday season is to browse for healthy alternatives to your favorites Holiday recipes. Make your own healthier stuffing, try roasted sweet potatoes instead of candied yams, make your own cranberry sauce with a sugar substitute, skip the casserole all-together and eat steamed beans on the side instead. There are plenty of healthier swaps that you can incorporate into your Holiday meals to take better care of your waistline. And maybe your family and friends will relish the switch from traditional calorie-bombs too!
Stress is one of the most common contributors to PCOS. When your holiday to-do list of errands seems to be growing by the minute, bringing with it added stress and anxiety, it’s time to stop and take a deep breath. Don’t let stress affect your motivation to fight PCOS. Holidays are a time to enjoy. If you are losing your mind trying to ensure the holidays are enjoyable for everyone else, you need to take things slow. The best thing to do when you feel overwhelmed — PRIORITIZE. If you find you have to buy too many gifts, host far too many events, attend a few too many parties and are already worrying about the financial consequences of it all, it’s time to shorten that list. Create a new list that looks more manageable to YOU and stop feeling guilty. The Holidays will still go on…..whether you attend 2 parties or 20, so stop feeling bad. One of the best things you can do this Holiday Season is to learn to say “No.” If you are not up to doing something without feeling stressed or unwell, don’t feel pressured to do it.
You have to start putting yourself and your health first, especially if you are dealing with a lifestyle disorder like PCOS. We know this one is easier said than done, since many of us worry about providing traditional Holiday experiences for everyone else in the family. And that mammoth task is kind of difficult to fit with self-care strategies, putting YOU at the very bottom of your priority list. It’s time to change that with this Holiday Season! Ignoring self-care has its consequences, none of which are pleasant. So don’t bunk your Yoga class to attend holiday drinks with ex-colleagues and don’t feel pressured to volunteer for the bake sale at your kid’s school.
Now while it’s a good idea to find healthier alternatives for your Holiday favorites, we don’t think you have to completely forgo traditions. Sometimes, holiday foods are so special because they evoke a special memory we associate with the Holidays. For example – your Grandma’s special Turkey stuffing, or a pie your mother made for Christmas morning. For such traditions where food becomes a part of your Holiday experience, we recommend you practice portion control instead of complete avoidance. Have a few bites and stop at that, so that you don’t have to feel completely deprived.
Sugary cocktails and beer are best avoided when you have PCOS. Whether you are the guest or the host, alcohol and Holiday parties go hand in hand. Pass on the eggnog or chocolatey drinks and stick to a glass of wine. And make sure you savor that drink and stick to just one. Once your glass is empty, fill it up with water and continue enjoying the party. You honestly don’t need to drink yourself into oblivion in order to have fun.
Don’t assume that a few late night parties are not going to wreak havoc on your sleep routine. They will, and even a couple of nights of sleep deprivation will worsen your PCOS symptoms. We cannot stress on this enough — get enough sleep. It’s always best to stick to your sleep routine. But if you know it’s unavoidable to stay up later than usual for a night, clear up your schedule for the next morning so you still get 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep.
We get it — your mile long to-do list is making it impossible for you to get to the gym or attend your yoga class. But there are other ways to stay active, so use them! If you have a few errands to run, walk to your destination. A brisk walk in the cool, crisp air is a good enough cardio. Getting outdoors will also uplift your mood. Cleaning your home to prepare for the Holidays also makes for a great cardio. Ask your colleague or friend to meet you for a walk in the park to exchange gifts, instead of meeting for cocktails. You can also try fun workouts like dance. Every little bit counts.
It can be easy to forget taking your PCOS supplements when your regular routine goes awry during the Holidays. That’s why it’s important to take extra measures and set up a reminder or alarm on your phone so that you don’t miss a dose.
Beat stress to make your holidays merrier. Stress will cause you to make poor choices and extra cortisol will make you crave sugars and treats, thus worsening your PCOS symptoms. This is why we highly recommend occasional indulgences that will put you in the right mood. Light up pumpkin-spiced candles and have a long, hot bath or get a relaxing mani-pedi so that you feel indulged. But most importantly, have fun!