Fall is a spectacular time of year with the autumn colors and shifting of sunlight. It is also the time of year that officially launches the holidays, starting with Halloween and leading to Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, and New Year’s. For many, it is also the time of year that weight gain season kicks off. With all the goodies, from leftover Halloween candy, to holiday parties, is it not easy to forgo a little extra indulgence.

This time of year also has less daylight, which can have an impact on many. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition which occurs when there is less daylight and many are subject to feeling blue and possibly more irritable. This author feels that for those who are susceptible to SAD, it can add to the stress of the holiday season. Here are a few tips for all of us to try to make the most of this time of year:

-Now is the time to get moving. Exercise has many benefits. Some include stress reduction, getting the mood enhancing endorphins flowing through our bodies, and calorie burning. Try to get a little in every day, even if it is in short bursts. You can even get up while watching TV and just move.

-Enjoy the season and the gatherings. They only come once a year. We all know this time of year there are going to be more treats and events to indulge in. Know this and plan for it instead of worrying about it. Look at the big picture of life and have fun in this small blip of time. The goodies may be calling your name, but you are the one in control of what goes in your body.

-Consuming protein, fat and carbohydrate together can help keep your blood sugar and mood in balance. If you are at a buffet type gathering, look for sources of protein, such as cheeses, bean spreads, meats, fish, nuts, eggs, etc. Bring something of your own. Hummus spreads, quiche, vegetarian chili and the like are economical and nutritious.

- Did you know that spicy foods tend to reduce appetite? Adding a few dashes of hot sauce or some type of heat may help. Try it if you can tolerate it!

-Eat first, drink second. Alcohol can not only impair your senses, it can lower your blood sugar, thus making you hungry. Eating foods as mentioned above will slow the absorption of alcohol. Also make it a point to consume non alcoholic beverages (such as sparkling water) between rounds.
-Omega fatty acids have been linked to an improved mood, which may help with the reduced daylight and stress of the season. Consuming fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, or omega fatty acid supplements is something to discuss with your healthcare practitioner.

-Try to get some sunlight to provide Vitamin D along with improving mood. During the winter this can be tough in the northern climates. Source of vitamin D include fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, as well as foods fortified, such as dairy products, margarines, cereals. The current recommended daily intake for adults is 400 IU. If you don’t eat any of these foods, consider supplements. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the better absorbed form. Recent studies have linked low Vitamin D intake with conditions ranging from bone health, cancer, diabetes, immunity, heart related conditions, and multiple sclerosis. Discuss supplementation with your healthcare professional.

-Play some music. Music has been linked with relaxation and mood enhancement.
-Remember what it’s all about. The holidays are truly a special time of year. Enjoying friends, family and the celebration of this time of year can create memories of a lifetime.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Piergeorge is a Registered Dietitian. She is a member of the American Dietetic Association and belongs to Nutrition in Complementary Care and Dietitian's in Business and Industry practice groups. Her career has included nutritional counseling, training, health promotion, marketing and sales. She also has a Professional Culinary Certificate and currently works in the food industry.