How to Combat the ‘Festive 15′

festive 15

The holidays can be a time where people throw caution to the wind and let loose. Unfortunately, those choices rear their ugly heads in the New Year when you step on scale or find a favorite outfit a bit snug. By maintaining a balanced regimen, you can still enjoy the festivities of the holidays and avoid the aftermath. Follow the tips below so you will launch into the New Year ahead of the game!

Drink Responsibly

Our bodies cannot store alcohol and make every effort to get it out of our system. Alcohol negatively affects our blood sugar and can cause low blood sugar also known as hypoglycemia. It is the hypoglycemia that increases hunger resulting in the munchies afterwards. Alcohol has no nutrients, fat, carbohydrates, or protein, but this blood sugar imbalance can greatly affect weight.

Tips to Drink Smarter:

  • Never drink on an empty stomach.
  • Consider alcohol your treat and maintain a very clean diet consisting of vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
  • Moderation is key — for men, no more than 4 drinks per day and no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, no more than 3 drinks per day and no more than 7 drinks per week.
  • Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.
  • Alcohol impairs absorption of nutrients, so take a good B-complex vitamin before a night out to avoid or reduce a hangover.
  • Avoid diet soda mixers and carbonated beverages as the rate of intoxication increases.
  • Consult your doctor if you are taking medications as liver metabolism is altered when drinking.

Contribute to the Festivities

If you have particular diet needs, bring a dish to your events even if it is not a potluck. People never say no to more delicious food and you remain guilt-free. Try one of these crowd-pleasing hummus recipes.

Avoid Banking Calories

Many people “bank” food for the day, so they can indulge more in the evening. This tactic usually backfires as you will find yourself ravenous by the time the evening comes. Eat healthy meals consisting of lean protein, healthy fats, and vegetables if you know you are going to indulge later.

Keep up with Sleep

The holiday season can bring about long evenings, but staying on top of your sleep will help you reduce stress and fatigue. The fatigue from lack of sleep can lead your body to crave more food, particularly sugar and salt, to maintain energy levels.

Exercise First Thing in Morning

During the holidays, it is more likely that last-minute exciting activities will derail your plans. Getting your exercise out of the way in the morning allows you to check it off the list and stoke your metabolism from the get-go.

Implement your New Year’s Resolutions Early

Gyms are typically less crowded in December. By combining cardiovascular exercise like walking, cycling, jogging, or swimming with weight training, you can increase your metabolism and build muscle to burn more calories. If you are traveling, plan a body weight regimen ahead to keep you on track.

What is your strategy to avoid the “Festive 15″? 

- Dr. Thalia Farshchian, Naturopathic Doctor

This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. Before undertaking any course of treatment or dietary/health changes, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.

Make It Better: Throw An Eco-Friendly Clothing Swap Party

Make It Better

We all know the expression, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” but did you consider that this could apply to clothes, too?

Americans discard an estimated 68 pounds of clothing each year. Of these, about 10% of never worn items are simply tossed in the trash. According to the EPA, this results in approximately 11 million tons of old clothing and textiles winding up in U.S. landfills each year — nearly all of which can be reused or recycled.

Most people probably have a few items they’ve never worn (read: impulse buys) or pieces that no longer reflect their style but are still in great condition. So instead of throwing away what’s bogging down your closet, spare the landfill, help the environment, and save money by giving your clothes a second life.

clothing swap 1

One fun way to do this? Host a clothing swap party. The concept is simple. Invite your friends and family over for festivities. Each guest brings a bag of new or gently used clothing that she’d like to trade. And everyone goes home with a few new looks…for free! It’s the perfect eco get-together, allowing you to enjoy guilt-free shopping in the comfort of your home. (In the spirit of the holidays and living mindfully, an exchange could also make a great alternative to frenzied holiday shopping.)

If you decide to host or attend a clothing swap party, here are some tips:

  • Ask guests to bring a certain amount of items regardless of size, style, or season. This guarantees a variety choices — consider everything from vintage coats, suits, holiday dresses, and on-trend jeans to accessories, shoes, jewelry, and makeup.
  • It’s a commonly known fashion guideline that if you haven’t worn an item of clothing in more than a year, chances are you don’t need it anymore and can give it away.
  • Make sure to bring your items cleaned and ironed. And double-check all garments for stains or rips. Sometimes rips or holes can be fixed at a tailor, so you might want to do this before you attend a clothing swap party.
  • Make some light appetizers and drinks for guests, but avoid finger foods that could cause people to accidentally leave stains on clothing. And choose white wine or light colored cocktails just in case someone spills.
  • Place a large standing mirror in the room where you’re holding the clothing swap so guests can try on items and see themselves in a mirror, as well as create a “dressing room” in a private bedroom or bathroom.
  • To ensure every guest leaves with a new-to-her item, place clothing of similar sizes and types together. Do the same for shoes, accessories, and makeup. Then follow a set of “rules” so everyone gets a shot at choosing an item they really want.
  • Let all guests know ahead of time that any unclaimed items at the end of the swap will be donated to charity and ask the group for suggestions. In the past, we’ve donated the remaining clothes to Goodwill and Dress for Success.

clothing swap 2

The best part? A clothing swap party offers many benefits beyond enjoying an evening full of laughs, having friends provide honest fashion advice, and leaving with an updated wardrobe. You will:

  • Reduce the amount of pesticides used to grow cotton, petroleum used to make fabrics, water needed for dye, and VOCs and pollutants that result from manufacturing processes.
  • Improve environmental impacts by shortening the distance the textiles would typically travel to the United States.
  • Prevent the production of approximately 29 pounds of CO2 for each item of clothing swapped, according to
  • Save nearly one billion pounds of textile waste and $10 billion if you don’t buy new clothes for one month, says former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World and Mommy Greenest founder Rachel Sarnoff.

Clothing swap parties aren’t just limited to women. We love the idea of an exchange for parents and their children since little ones grow so quickly and constantly buying new clothes can get expensive. Kids outgrow their toys and books too, so swapping those items would also be an eco- and budget-friendly way to change-up their reading selections and playroom.

Have you ever held a clothing swap party? Tell us how it went in the comments. 

Teaching Children Gratitude During the Holidays

happy child girl with gift box

Every year around the holidays I attempt the impossible. I want to gift my children generously but not overindulge. I want to get them exactly what I know they want but somehow incorporate a lesson in appreciating what we have. Even though my two aspirations are completely opposite, I still struggle with this at every gift-giving holiday.

We celebrate Chanukah in my house and it’s a huge challenge with eight straight nights of celebrating to weave-in a message like, “We have to think of other kids who may not get any presents at all.” My two boys are five-and-a-half and four and at this age, it’s easier for them to deal in concrete images rather than hypothetical children they’ve never seen or met. In the past, I’ve tried not giving a gift the last night of Chanukah. I tell them we’ve made a donation instead to help other children who may not have gotten any presents this year, but I don’t think they really understand the message behind this gesture.

Like most parents I know, my husband and I want to share in their excitement when they open their presents. It’s easy to remember a piece of your own childhood joy at getting gifts when you see it reflected back in your own children. As important as it is to me to raise happy children, it’s equally important to me not to overdo it. I know it’s normal, but it pains me to see me my children immediately forget about the toy they received the night before in favor of the newest offering. I worry that I’m teaching them to appreciate fleeting things more than the bigger picture of being part of a loving, healthy family with a roof over our heads and plenty to eat.

At the same time, I’m also the mom who, when her child mentions a toy he loved playing with at someone’s house, will rush out to get that same item. Part of me wants my children to just be happy, even if that means through extra sweets and toys because there really isn’t much else that can top those two things for them. But there’s a huge guilt factor if I let them binge too much on junk or one-time toys.

This year my husband and I tried a different approach to help keep everyone’s spirits in the right place. Instead of gifts to open every night, we aimed to give them experiences as well. Since Chanukah overlapped with Thanksgiving, we had several big extended family celebrations where the kids got to stay up late and play games with the grown-ups. On another night we took them to a waterfront restaurant not too far from us on the southeast coast of Florida where you could toss bait to giant tarpon fish who literally jumped out of the water for the food. For little boys this is almost as exciting as a live samurai battle and was absolutely a highlight of the holiday. My hope is that when my kids look back on any celebratory occasion, they’ll remember good times and being surrounded by people who love them and not if they got the latest and greatest gadget.

I’m hoping this is a jumping-off point for more celebrating and less flash-in-the-pan gift giving. I’m not saying we’ll whittle it down to no gifts and just hanging out time in the future, but it was easier than I expected to not over-gift. As long as the kids felt that it was a special, out-of-the-ordinary evening, they were happy and content with that.

I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with for the next big gift-giving occasion when my older son turns six in a few months.

This holiday season how do you plan to reconcile your aspirations with your gifting inclinations? Is it possible in your family to give less and get more?

By Robin Saks Frankel

Monday Meditation: Mother Teresa on Family

Monday Meditations teresa

Honest Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

These small gifts are big on fun! The little trinkets that fill stockings can be just as entertaining and enjoyable as the larger presents. Check out our list of various goodies for all ages and interests!

gift guide stocking stuffer


1.  The health enthusiast in your life will enjoy Tinke — a gadget for iOS that measures four health parameters. Just plug it into an iOS device, download the app, put your thumb on Tinke, and it can read heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiratory rate, and heart rate variability.

2. National Geographic’s Stellarscope Star Finder is the perfect stocking stuffer for the amateur astronomer or anyone who wants to learn more about the night sky. This scope has a star map that can be aligned with the actual sky as it appears in your location at that moment.

3. Now here’s a product that the spa lover — or anyone with sensitive skin — will appreciate. This bath ball and filter from Gaiam eliminates chlorine from water, which can cause hair to be brittle and color to fade.

4. Kids can create their own mini planetarium with this kit from GreenKidCrafts. Using recycled materials and a flashlight pen, kids can observe constellations as they project them onto a wall.

5. These adorable Woodland Nightlights are made of ceramic and operate with a battery-powered LED light.

6. Let imaginations run wild with this well-designed mask from Moulin Roty. The “Leonard the Fox Mask” measures 5-by-7 inches and is a perfect stocking stuffer.

7. These set of three organic lavender sachets can be placed into drawers to give-off a relaxing scent. Made using  natural linen blend, tied with a sable brown jute twine, and filled with USA-grown organic lavender flowers, these sachets make a great stocking stuffer for every adult on your list.

Have a few more stockings to stuff? Our lip balm, baby teether, bubble bath, and bear hat make honestly sweet choices your family will love.