On Valentine's Day, people celebrate all kinds of love. And chefs and foodies around the globe are showing how indulgence can often be both healthy for people and the planet. These innovators are making the case that flavorful, locally sourced plant-inspired dishes are perfect for special occasions — and also versatile for everyday mealtimes.
1. Alice Waters<p>Waters is a chef, author, and food advocate, and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. Waters is the author of 15 books, including New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I & II, and the memoir, Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook. With the belief that chefs should pay attention to the wholesomeness of food — including how ingredients are sourced — Waters is credited with providing the foundation for the plant-forward movement. Waters' recipes and menus offer occasional lapses into indulgence perfect for Valentine's Day including sweet corn soup and winter squash tortellini.</p>
2. Ana Sortun<p>Ana Sortun is the chef at Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her menu focuses on Turkish and Middle Eastern classics distilled down to their traditional elements. She is also the owner of Sofra Bakery in Cambridge and Sarma Restaurant in Somerville, Mass. Many of the vegetables used at Sortun's restaurants are grown locally — on her husband's farm. Sortun is well-regarded for her mastery of Mediterranean spices — her 2006 cookbook, simply called "Spice," is a bestseller. In her recipes for <a href="https://www.saveur.com/turkish-stuffed-eggplant-imam-bayildi-recipe/" target="_blank">imam bayildi (Turkish stuffed eggplant)</a> and <a href="https://oldwayspt.org/blog/chef-ana-sortun-oleana-shares-kitchen-secrets-and-new-cookbook" target="_blank">Syrian-style lentils with chard</a>, she homes in the one or two warming spices that will elevate the star vegetable without overpowering its natural flavor.</p>
3. Chloe Coscarelli<p>Vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli believes that vegetable-forward dishes can still be mouthwatering, rich, and playful. Now with four cookbooks and nearly a dozen television appearances, Coscarelli has become a prominent figure making the most of plants and their natural flavors. With recipes like <a href="https://chefchloe.com/recipes" target="_blank">chocolate layer cake</a>, <a href="https://chefchloe.com/recipes" target="_blank">blueberry cinnamon french toast</a>, and maple bacon benedict, home chefs can satisfy their sweet tooth and their savory cravings this holiday.</p>
4. Christina Arokiasamy<p>Chef Christina Arokiasamy, who was raised in Malaysia and now lives in Washington State, served as the first Malaysian food ambassador to the United States. Her family members have been spice merchants for five generations, and her show on the Cooking Channel, The Malaysian Kitchen, focused on traditional Malaysian flavors. Arokiasamy's recipes for <a href="https://themalaysiankitchen.com/2019/10/08/vegetarian-pineapple-fried-rice/" target="_blank">pineapple fried rice</a> and <a href="https://themalaysiankitchen.com/2019/10/08/goan-coconut-curry/" target="_blank">goan coconut curry</a> both highlight plant-based ingredients commonly found in Malaysia and blend sweet and savory elements.</p>
5. Daisuke Nomura<p>Chef Nomura is internationally praised for plant-forward takes on creative Japanese style cuisine. Having earned two Michelin stars, Nomura's recipes are sure to impress any loved one with plant-forward innovation, including his spin on an American Valentine's classic: instead of a beef steak, Nomura's recipe suggests an <a href="https://www.plantforward50.com/chefs/daisuke-nomura#recipe" target="_blank">onion steak</a> as a new way to embrace the overlooked ingredient's flavor using new and modern styles of cooking.</p>
6. Dan Barber<p>Dan Barber, Chef and Co-Owner of <a href="https://www.bluehillfarm.com/" target="_blank">Blue Hill</a> and <a href="https://www.bluehillfarm.com/dine/stone-barns" target="_blank">Blue Hill at Stone Barn</a> and the author of The Third Plate, was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef. In 2009 he was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. Barber is hailed for his plant-forward initiatives including his Row 7 seed company that breeds seeds for better flavor. Barber's plant-forward <a href="https://www.plantforward50.com/chefs/dan-barber#recipe" target="_blank">celery root recipes</a> open up new possibilities for the vegetable a rich broth, cozy tea, or even a hearty braised dish.</p>
7. Deborah Madison<p>Chef, cooking teacher, and author of 14 widely-recognized cookbooks Deborah Madison specializes in seasonal vegetable recipes. Through these recipes, Madison — recognized as the originator of the plant-forward trend — hopes to highlight farmers market produce and heritage varieties of vegetables. Having cooked at restaurants like Greens in San Francisco, Madison has surprised many non-vegetarian and non-vegan diners with bold flavors and filling meals. Dive into Madison's cozy <a href="https://www.latimes.com/food/recipes/la-fo-deborah-madison-in-my-kitchen-cookbook-20170206-story.html" target="_blank">lentil soup with berbere</a> or <a href="https://www.marthastewart.com/316404/beet-risotto" target="_blank">risotto with beets</a>, which add depth and color to a normally luxurious dish.</p>
8. Derek and Chad Sarno<p>Derek Sarno is Executive Chef and Director of Plant-Based Innovation at Tesco and co-founder of Wicked Healthy, a plant-forward blog founded with his brother Chad Sarno. The co-founders develop recipes that allow eaters to indulge with smokey, deep, and nearly guilt-causing flavors — all while maintaining a plant-forward diet and mission. Their recipes like <a href="https://wickedhealthyfood.com/2019/12/27/wicked-herby-crusted-roasted-butternut-squash-tenderloin/" target="_blank">roasted and herb-crusted butternut squash tenderloin</a> and coconut tartlets with <a href="https://wickedhealthyfood.com/2016/09/11/coconut-tartlet-with-clementine-sorbet-and-lavender-syrup/" target="_blank">clementine sorbet and lavender syrup</a> embrace the flavor of plants and their potential in classic Valentine's Day preparations.</p>
9. Erik Oberholtzer<p>Erik Oberholtzer is a chef, social entrepreneur, and food activist whose restaurant chain Tender Greens makes it easier for anyone to enjoy seasonal, plant-forward home cooking at affordable prices. And as a board member for The Rodale Institute and a Food Forever Champion, Oberholtzer supports regeneratively grown and biodiverse crops in diets around the world. His recipes for <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2BK-eGryp0" target="_blank">gazpacho</a> and <a href="https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/poached-salmon-salad-with-lettuce-and-asparagus-50185996" target="_blank">poached salmon salad</a> offer lighter takes on romantic meals.</p>
10. Hari Pulapaka<p>Hari Pulapaka is the Executive Chef and Owner of the acclaimed Cress Restaurant in DeLand, Florida, and is a tenured professor at Stetson University. Pulapaka's self-described cuisine is "globally inspired" and "vegetarian focused" and is intended to showcase food that "nourishes the body and frees the soul." In his forthcoming book Sinfully Vegetarian, Pulapaka will feature plant-forward recipes that leave eaters feeling spoiled and craving for more. Inspired by Pulapaka's menus and recipes, eaters can indulge in <a href="http://sinfullyvegetarian.com/" target="_blank">savory vegetable bread pudding</a>, beet-radish terrine with lentil-sesame hummus, or a Mediterranean and Middle East-inspired <a href="https://www.jamesbeard.org/recipes/meyer-lemon-ricotta-and-spinach-gnudi-with-green-garbanzo-bean-hummus-tomato-jam-and-spiced-almonds" target="_blank">ricotta and spinach gnudi</a>.</p>
11. Jody Adams<p>Jody Adams, a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef, highlights local vegetables at her restaurants in Boston, where her menus feature housemade pastas, roasted beets, and spanakopita. Adams — who holds a degree in anthropology from Brown University — put it best when she said, "It's the beautiful, raw ingredients that determine what food tastes like — not how fancy the kitchen is." Try something new in the kitchen this Valentine's Day, like making your own pasta: Adams' comforting recipes for <a href="https://www.bostonchefs.com/recipe/jody-adams-floppy-tomato-lasagna/" target="_blank">floppy tomato lasagna</a> and <a href="https://www.starchefs.com/chefs/JAdams/html/recipe_03.shtml" target="_blank">potato gnocchi gratin with wild mushrooms</a> guide you through the process.</p>
12. Joe Yonan<p>Joe Yonan, the Washington Post's food and dining editor, thinks we should all eat more beans. In his new book, Cool Beans, Yonan shares 125 recipes that highlight the versatility of the wide world of protein-packed legumes. Many of the recipes, like <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vegetarian-recipes-hummus-ratatouille-margaritas-and-more-from-washington-posts-joe-yonan/" target="_blank">fusilli with white beans, cherry tomatoes, and corn sauce</a> or <a href="https://modernfarmer.com/2020/02/cook-this-cool-beans-by-joe-yonan/" target="_blank">falafel fattoush</a>, use ingredients you might already have canned in your pantry. Right in time for Valentine's Day, Yonan even serves dessert and drinks, with recipes like <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vegetarian-recipes-hummus-ratatouille-margaritas-and-more-from-washington-posts-joe-yonan/" target="_blank">chocolate, red bean, and rose brownies</a> and a <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vegetarian-recipes-hummus-ratatouille-margaritas-and-more-from-washington-posts-joe-yonan/" target="_blank">salty margarita sour</a>, topped with whipped chickpea aquafaba.</p>
13. John Fraser<p>Eating vegetarian or vegan, <a href="http://www.nixny.com/" target="_blank">according to chef John Fraser</a>, "should feel more celebration than sacrifice." That's why he opened Nix, which is now New York City's only Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant. There, he serves dishes ranging from cauliflower tempura (<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-dish-chef-john-fraser/" target="_blank">here's the recipe</a>) to kabocha squash dumplings, but his menu changes depending on what's seasonally available. Fraser shows that plant-forward dishes can be fun — he describes his <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qkn9aw/potato-fry-bread-with-sour-cream-and-cucumbers" target="_blank">potato fry bread recipe</a> as "a zeppoli made love to a French fry and then got slathered in sour cream and vegetables."</p>
14. José Andrés<p>José Andrés is often credited with bringing the tapas-style dining concept to America. The founder of 31 restaurants and World Central Kitchen, which provides meals to those affected by natural disasters, wants to bring vegetables forward in American diets. By making vegetables the center of dishes, and relegating meat to side dishes or condiments, Andrés hopes to give plants the recognition they deserve for their role in eaters' health and happiness. Andrés's recent cookbook Vegetables Unleashed includes cozy, luxurious recipes like potatoes cooked in compost, vegetable paella, and fennel bouillabaisse.</p>
15. Makini Howell<p>Chef Makini Howell from Plum Bistro Seattle designs innovative dishes that reflect upon her experience being raised in a vegan family. With powerful flavors, Howell works hard to make plant-forward synonymous with delicious. Howell's recipes offer adventurous eaters an opportunity to integrate more spice into their Valentine's Day meal plans with a <a href="https://recipes.oregonlive.com/recipes/habanero-yam-soup" target="_blank">habanero yam soup</a> and <a href="https://www.hallmarkchannel.com/home-and-family/recipes/makini-howells-spicy-peach-tofu-and-tempeh-with-charred-purple-beans" target="_blank">spicy peach tofu and tempeh with charred purple beans</a>.</p>
16. Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby<p>Chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby opened and operate a small restaurant group of vegan establishments in Philadelphia — including Vedge, V Street, and Wiz Kid — and Washington D.C.'s Fancy Radish. As James Beard-nominated chefs, Landau and Jacoby's passion for veganism injects love into their cooking; and similar plant lovers can feel inspired by their menus and recipes that explore rutabaga fondue, eggplant braciole, and even <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwExuSgTJ5M" target="_blank">potato scallops</a>.</p>
17. Romy Gill<p>When chef Romy Gill was growing up in India, meat was reserved for celebrations and special occasions — and even when she did eat meat, it was a side dish at most. So every recipe in her recent debut cookbook, Zaika, is vegan. "I wanted to show that in India, plant-based cuisine is something people don't do just for the sake of it—it's a way of life," <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2019/12/warming-dhals-zingy-salads-interview-romy-gill" target="_blank">she said</a>. Gill, who now lives in the U.K., cooks lighter fare with Indian flavors, like <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/recipes/red-cabbage-pomegranate-salad-romy-gill-cooking-instructions-a9008271.html" target="_blank">red cabbage and pomegranate salad</a> and <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/recipes/romy-gill-recipe-courgette-sabzi-indian-vegetarian-a8361056.html" target="_blank">courgette (zucchini) sabzi</a>, a childhood favorite.</p>
18. Selassie Atadika<p>Midunu, the name of chef Selassie Atadika's restaurant in Accra, Ghana, means "let us eat" in the Ewe language. Midunu represents "nomadic" dining, meaning meals are served pop-up style at a new location each time. Atadika said she is reminded that plant-forward cooking is healthier for humans and the planet when she looks at the traditional foodways of nomadic African groups. Now, at Midunu, Atadika sources much of her produce and grain from local farmers living off the land. Recipes like her <a href="https://www.plantforward50.com/chefs/selassie-atadika#recipe" target="_blank">gari foto</a> celebrate African ingredients like gari (made from dried cassava) and the spice prekese.</p>
19. Stéphanie Audet<p>Before Stéphanie Audet became a restaurant chef, she was a vegetarian food consultant, creating plant-based recipes and menus for restaurants. These skills have come in handy in her kitchens: A restaurant she opened in Hawaii was devoted entirely to raw indigenous ingredients. When she became the executive chef at LOV, in Montreal, Canada, in 2016, she created an entirely vegan menu that featured creative but approachable recipes like <a href="https://quench.me/mavericks/stephanie-audet-lov-maverick-chefs-2018/" target="_blank">coconut ceviche</a>. Recently, she moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where she opened Senhor Uva. At the natural food and wine bar, her small plates focus on seasonal and local vegetables.</p>
20. Tal Ronnen<p>The plant-based chef to the stars, Tal Ronnen earned his fame while cooking for Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Arianna Huffington, and for the first-ever vegan dinner at the United States Senate. Ronnen's cookbook Crossroads is based on recipes from his Los Angeles restaurant of the same name, which opened in 2013 to showcase high-end vegan dining with Mediterranean flavors. With an inventive recipe for <a href="https://www.plantforward50.com/chefs/tal-ronnen#recipe" target="_blank">artichoke "oysters" with tomato bearnaise and kelp caviar</a>, Ronnen offers eaters a plant-forward alternative to the well-known seafood aphrodisiac this Valentine's Day.</p>
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Christmas celebrations turned sour when 11 people died and over 300 were hospitalized in the Philippines after drinking a batch of poisonous coconut wine, local police said on Monday.
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Having a drink at a holiday party but don't want to have too much?
Why Holiday Boozing Is a Thing<p>While people may binge drink for various reasons during this time of year, people who have higher expectations about the beneficial effects of drinking are more likely to binge.</p><p>In other words, you may be more likely to consume too much if you think it will help you have more fun at a party. Other personality traits and age can also lead to a higher likelihood of binge drinking, Vena says.</p><p>"Social pressure mixed with a brain chemistry deficiency provides a perfect storm for binge drinking," added <a href="https://drshosh.com/" target="_blank">Shoshana Bennett</a>, PhD, a psychologist from California.</p><p><a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323432.php#1" target="_blank">Research</a> has indicated that having low levels of dopamine may put people at risk for binge drinking.</p><p>"If a larger number of drinks in a short period of time is needed in order to receive the same chemical effect that most people get with one drink, it can easily lead to binge drinking," she added.</p>
Harms of Holiday Drinking<p>Overindulging may only cause a bad hangover, but it can lead to risky decision making, vomiting, and alcohol poisoning — not to mention the effects of intoxicated behavior.</p><p>Frequent binge drinking is a risk factor of alcohol use disorder and can have detrimental effects on numerous organs, including the liver, pancreas, intestines, heart, and brain.</p><p>Binge drinking during the holidays has specifically been linked to a phenomenon known as "holiday heart syndrome," which is a cardiac arrhythmia that occurs in people without a history of cardiovascular problems.</p><p>"Such cases are more prevalent during holidays as a result of increases in excessive alcohol consumption," Koob said.</p>
Prevent Holiday Binge<p>Even if you don't drink enough to be legally drunk, there are a few things you can do to avoid drinking too much:</p><h4>Be Mindful of Your Limits</h4><p>Know how alcohol affects you, and be aware of any medications you're taking that could increase the effects of alcohol.</p><p>While most of us are aware about the dangers of drinking too much, alcohol can lead to a distorted sense of confidence.</p><p>"People might truly believe they're fine to drive, while the truth is they are not," Bennett added. "Sometimes the self-awareness is clear, but embarrassment asking for a ride becomes a barrier."</p><h4>Make a Plan</h4><p>Monitor how much and how quickly you're consuming your drinks. If you know you may drink more than you want to, decide at the beginning of a party how many drinks you'll have and stick with the plan, Koob says.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/" target="_blank">single serving of alcohol</a> is defined as:</p><ul><li>12 ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol</li><li>5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol</li><li>1.5 ounces of spirits with 40 percent alcohol</li></ul><p>"It is common to accidentally overpour drinks, and the extra alcohol can derail your plans to keep consumption to a minimum," Koob added.</p><h4>Eat Before or While You Drink</h4><p>This can help delay alcohol from entering your bloodstream.</p><p>"This will not prevent someone from becoming intoxicated, but it can slow the absorption of alcohol into the body and reduce the peak amount of alcohol that makes it to the brain," Koob said.</p><h4><span></span>Pace Yourself With Nonalcoholic Drinks</h4><p>Like having a drink in hand? Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water or club soda, Vena suggests. This way, you can still drink but won't be filling up on alcohol so quickly, and can hopefully avoid having too much of it.</p>
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Walk or Run<p>For those who don't have access to a cardio machine over the holidays, the solution is straightforward.</p><p>Do your cardio routine the old-fashioned way and go outside for a walk or run.</p><p>"If you're traveling somewhere where it's warm and you can go outside to walk or jog or anything like that, it's a nice option," <a href="https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/sports-medicine/team/physical-therapists/dr-ebner" target="_blank">D.R. Ebner</a>, PT, SCS, a physical therapist at The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, told Healthline.</p><p>Even if it's chilly outside, bundling up and going for a brisk stroll is a good way to walk off that rich <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/christmas" rel="noopener noreferrer">Christmas</a> dinner and take in the lights while shedding some calories in the process.</p><p>A 20-minute walk can cover about a mile, which can burn off about <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/walking-for-weight-loss#section3" target="_blank">100 calories</a>, depending on a person's sex and weight.</p>
Resistance Bands<p>It's tough to take a weight training routine on the road.</p><p>It just isn't practical to pack bulky, heavy dumbbells into your luggage and there's no guarantee that your holiday destination will have alternatives.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercises/easy-resistance-band-exercises" target="_blank">Resistance bands</a> may not be able to provide the same heavy lifting workout as dumbbells, but they do offer something similar in a lightweight form that can fit into the palm of your hand.</p><p>"The easiest thing that anyone can do, as most research has shown, is resistance training, which helps increase metabolic rate," said Zarabi. "It doesn't mean you need to go to a gym and use a machine or lift dumbbells. Resistance bands, which are easily portable, are something you can throw in your luggage. They come in different colors for different intensity levels."</p>
Create a Stop-Gap Program<p>Anyone who has a daily fitness routine knows that traveling can throw things into chaos.</p><p>Rather than struggling to replicate your current program, or haphazardly fit workouts into your day, Ebner says it's helpful to establish a new routine for the days you're away from home.</p><p>This might entail doing exercises you don't usually do or adapting to your surroundings.</p><p>"You may not have a ton of space," he said. "But you can do workouts like pushups, jumping jacks, and situps."</p><p>"You can do, for instance, 10 pushups, and then some bodyweight squats and some lunges," Ebner noted. "You can repeat that two or three times and commit 10 or 15 minutes to it. Work hard, but keep it sustainable."</p>
Look Online<p>To add to his point of adapting to different surroundings, Ebner suggests going online to look for inspiration.</p><p>"On YouTube, there are all kinds of workout videos — anything from yoga to calisthenics," he said.</p><p>"If you're trying to fit an exercise in and you're not sure what to do, you can find guided routines where it's all spelled out for you and you can follow along," he added. "You don't have to overthink it."</p>
Don’t Sweat It<p>Even if there's enough space and equipment to work out, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day when you factor in the social commitments of the holiday season.</p><p>Zarabi says it's good to approach the season with a goal not of losing weight, but maintaining your current weight.</p><p>This strategy even allows for some indulgences, provided they're reasonable.</p><p>"I always like to enforce the 80/20 rule: be good 80 percent of the time and enjoy the desserts and holiday treats 20 percent of the time," she explained. "Indulging on Christmas Day or at holiday parties is not enough to derail you from your lifestyle. It's the accumulation of what you do over the long term that really impacts your weight loss efforts."</p><p>Following the indulgent, or over-indulgent festive season, many of us make New Year's resolutions in an effort to improve things moving forward.</p><p>Instead of setting lofty goals for the new year, Zarabi suggests a more measured approach.</p><p>"If your resolution is better health, don't make it about the number on the scale," she said. "A lot of us judge ourselves by a size or weight, disregarding the fact that we can fluctuate 5 to 7 pounds after a dinner party. It's best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning at a dry weight and try not to obsess over the marker."</p><p>"I think that people need to be a little more forgiving of themselves and just get back to the basics the next day, instead of waiting for the magic to happen on New Year's Day," she added.</p>
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By Heather Cruickshank
- Signs of holiday cheer can have a flip side for many dealing with loss, anxiety, or depression.
- Disruptions to your diet, exercise habits, and sleep schedule can also take a toll and lead to holiday blues.
- Experts say there are clear ways to cope including connecting with others, managing expectations, and practicing self-care.
The holiday season is a joyful time for many people — but it can also be a harbinger of stress.
1. Connect With Others<p>If you struggle with feelings of isolation, loneliness, or sadness around the holidays, reaching out to family members and friends may help.</p><p>"For those persons who experience loneliness or depression during the holiday season, it's especially important to reach out to family and friends," <a href="https://nursing.jhu.edu/faculty_research/faculty/faculty-directory/mona-shattell" target="_blank">Mona Shattell</a>, PhD, RN, FAAN, a mental health specialist and professor of nursing at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, told Healthline.</p><p>"These individuals should strive to connect in real life with one person per day," she continued. "Call a friend on the phone, make a plan to meet someone for a walk or for coffee — anything that connects the person to another person."</p><p>If you don't have a lot of people to call or visit, volunteering for a local organization may give you the chance to meet new people and strengthen your connections with your community.</p><p>"Doing something meaningful for others can help mediate loneliness, depression, and stress during the holidays," Shattell said.</p><p>"Taking part in a service project or volunteering for your favorite organization can help one feel less alone, less stressed, and more alive," she added.</p>
2. Acknowledge Feelings of Loss<p>For people who are grieving the loss of a loved one, certain holiday traditions or memories may serve as a reminder of their absence.</p><p>Rather than try to suppress feelings of sadness, it may help to acknowledge them and take time to commemorate the person you've lost.</p><p>"For people who are experiencing grief over the death of loved ones, especially those who have died since the last holiday season, it is helpful to acknowledge the loss and celebrate the life as it was lived, the memories that remain," Shattell said.</p><p>You might find it comforting to establish a new holiday tradition in their honor. On the other hand, you might decide to skip other traditions or activities that are too painful to participate in without them.</p><p>Give yourself freedom to choose how you'll mark the holiday and your loved one's memory, recommends the <a href="https://hospicefoundation.org/End-of-Life-Support-and-Resources/Grief-Support/Journeys-with-Grief-Articles/Three-C-s-for-Holiday-Grief" target="_blank">Hospice Foundation of America</a>.</p>
3. Manage Expectations<p>Setting realistic expectations is essential for limiting stress.</p><p>If you're feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to scale back on your holiday decorations, baking goals, or social calendar. Rather than taking on everything, the American Psychological Association (APA) <a href="https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-gift-giving" target="_blank">recommends</a> prioritizing the tasks and activities that are most important to you.</p><p>Sticking to a holiday budget may also help limit stress by reducing financial strain. Don't spend more money on gifts or activities than you can afford.</p><p>If you find yourself struggling to meet the expectations of other people, it's important to recognize and communicate your needs and limits, <a href="https://behavioralassociatesla.com/about-us/brett-marroquin-associate/" target="_blank">Brett Marroquín</a>, PhD, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University, told Healthline.</p><p>"I tend to talk to patients about interpersonal effectiveness skills, ways to communicate with partners, with adult parents, and with families that have to do with clearly asserting your needs, being really clear about what your needs and your emotions are, and having boundaries," Marroquín said.</p><p>"What can I fulfill? What do I need to do to take care of myself? Communicating all those things," he continued.</p>
4. Practice Self-Care<p>Although it might not be your number one priority during the holiday season, practicing healthy habits is important for maintaining good mental health.</p><p>"Basic stuff like keeping a healthy diet, keeping up your exercise, keeping up the activities you typically do, including the positive activities that you just enjoy doing, and not letting the stressful stuff sort of overwhelm all that and supersede all of that — it creates the foundation for healthy coping," Marroquín said.</p><p>Try to get enough sleep, get some exercise, and moderate your intake of holiday treats.</p><p>It's also best to avoid consuming alcohol when you're feeling stressed or blue, advises <a href="https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/november-2015/tips-for-managing-the-holiday-blues" target="_blank">Dr. Ken Duckworth</a>, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.</p>
5. Plan Ahead<p>Whatever <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/cope-with-top-holiday-stressors" target="_blank">holiday stressors</a> you expect to encounter, planning ahead may help you cope.</p><p>For some people, that might mean blocking time off in their calendars to shop when they expect grocery stores or malls to be less busy.</p><p>For others, it might mean planning a special activity or gathering with friends on a day when they anticipate feeling lonely or sad.</p><p>"If you know that Christmas Day or New Year's Eve is a particularly stressful time for you, maybe because of a loss that happened around that period or because you've always spent time with your grandpa and he's gone now," Marroquín said, "is there something you can do on that day, is there something you can plan with other family members for that day?"</p><p>"A lot of the research is really clear," he continued, "that when you're active in planning coping in advance for challenges you know are coming, the better off you're going to be."</p>
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By Julia Ries
- Alcohol activates the GABA system causing us to feel less anxious and relaxed. If you stop drinking, your GABA system is still overcompensating and gets mixed up, leading to a spike in anxiety.
- Drinking can also impact your ability to get REM sleep, which can affect mood.
- Alcohol can help trigger a chemical that impacts the "flight or flight" response leading to anxiety
For many people, drinking and the holidays go hand in hand.
It Messes With Our GABA System<p>The mood fluctuations we feel after a couple of days or even a night of excessive drinking can be traced back to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/gamma-aminobutyric-acid" target="_blank">gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA)</a>, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.</p><p>Alcohol activates the GABA system (which, remember, is inhibitory), causing us to feel less anxious and relaxed (if you drink, you know the feeling).</p><p>"By activating an inhibitory neuron, [alcohol] makes you uncoordinated, it makes you disinhibited — so you're a little more talkative — and that happens immediately," said <a href="http://www.yalemedicine.org/doctors/stephen_holt/" target="_blank">Dr. Stephen Holt</a>, a Yale Medicine addiction medicine doctor.</p><p>However, if you drink multiple days in a row, and therefore activate the GABA system for an extended period of time, the GABA system starts to cool itself down.</p><p>"Your brain starts to say, 'Oh! There's this whole new thing in our brain now, we should make some changes,'" Holt said.</p><p>When you eventually stop drinking, your GABA system is still overcompensating and gets mixed up, leading to a spike in anxiety.</p><p>"When you take alcohol out of the system — it's four days of binge drinking and now you're not drinking alcohol — that [GABA] system is now revved up in such a way that you start to feel anxious if you don't have alcohol in your system," Holt said.</p><p>On top of that, alcohol releases a surge of endorphins — our bodies' natural opiate — which gives us a feel-good buzz.</p><p>When we drink for days in a row, our brain starts to expect this pleasurable substance all the time. And, without it, we can start to feel a bit blue.</p><p>"We use the term dysphoria, which is kind of the opposite of euphoria," said Holt. "It's just this feeling of emptiness and feeling a little hollow — there's just something missing — because that alcohol was providing this pleasurable, reinforcing effect."</p>
Alcohol Can Also Be Stimulating<p>Alcohol can also be stimulating, according to <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/doctors/john_krystal/" target="_blank">Dr. John Krystal</a>, the chair of the department of psychiatry at Yale Medicine.</p><p>Some people may find that a glass of wine or beer will cause them to feel more stimulated. Krystal says this may be due to alcohol's ability to increase norepinephrine levels in the body, which is a chemical involved in our body's "fight or flight" response to fear or stress.</p><p>This rush of norepinephrine can play out in a couple of ways.</p><p>"While some people may find the effects of norepinephrine to be pleasurable, others — particularly people with symptoms associated with panic disorder or PTSD — may be very sensitive to the ability of norepinephrine to trigger anxiety," Krystal said.</p>
It Interferes With Our Sleep<p>Alcohol also disrupts the quality of our sleep and can completely deregulate our sleep-wake cycle.</p><p>"People may find that drinking alcohol helps them to relax and to fall asleep. However, alcohol reduces the restful quality of sleep and when their blood alcohol levels drop, they may experience more difficulty getting back to sleep or maintaining sleep," Krystal said.</p><p>And when we don't get the sleep we need, our mood can take a hit.</p><p>When we drink alcohol, our rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, is reduced. This matters because it's the most important, restorative part of our sleep.</p><p><a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/113/9/2538" target="_blank">Research</a> shows that poor REM sleep has been linked to a higher risk of depression and anxiety. On the flip side, <a href="https://news.berkeley.edu/2018/11/06/chronically-anxious/" target="_blank">a deep, restorative sleep</a> may actually calm an overactive brain and mitigate feelings of anxiety.</p><p>"Sleep is important in mood regulation and being thrown off suddenly can increase feelings of anxiety," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor/psychiatry/dr-jessy-warner-cohen-phd-11362380" target="_blank">Jessy Warner-Cohen</a>, PhD, a senior psychologist at Northwell Health.</p>
Here’s How Long It’ll Last and What to Do About It<p>According to Holt, whereas a hangover will usually stick with you for a few hours, that post-drinking anxiety may linger for a couple of days.</p><p>However, if you struggle with anxiety or have an anxiety disorder, that anxiety may last longer and end up being more severe than it was before drinking alcohol.</p><p>If you start to feel more anxious after drinking, it's probably worth taking a break from it. Give your GABA system a rest and find a healthier way to soak up those endorphins.</p><p>"There are natural ways of reducing anxious feelings. Exercise is a great one. Even if you're feeling sluggish, going for a brisk walk can naturally uplift your mood," Warner-Cohen said.</p><p>Sleep is another big one: Take a nap if you can or aim for an earlier bedtime.</p><p>"Getting an actual full night's sleep that includes REM sleep is very important to help people feel restored the next day, less anxious, less depressed, and more capable of getting done what needs to be done," Holt said.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise" target="_blank">Deep breathing exercises</a> can also help soothe your nerves. There's plenty of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/" target="_blank">evidence</a> pointing to deep breathing's ability to boost feelings of comfort and downplay symptoms of anxiety, arousal, and confusion.</p><p>Many health experts recommend the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/4-7-8-breathing" target="_blank">4-7-8 method</a>, in which you slowly inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and gradually exhale for 8 seconds.</p><p>Listen to your body — you know it better than anyone else.</p><p>If you feel the anxiety building, or strong, persistent urges to drink, reach out for help. There are a lot of treatments available for both anxiety and alcohol use disorders that are worth looking into if you sense an issue unfolding.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>With the holidays upon us, you may notice that all that spiked eggnog and champagne toasts may not only give you a painful hangover, but severe symptoms of anxiety as well.</p><p>This is because alcohol can have a very powerful effect on the systems that regulate our mood and mental health.</p><p>Though the anxiety may linger for a few days, sleep, exercise, and deep breathing exercises can help you overcome the anxious aftershock that follows a few days of heavy drinking.</p>
It's the holiday season again, and in the midst of making to-do lists and prepping for festive dinners, some people will once again ponder whether it is better for the environment to buy an artificial Christmas tree or to opt for the real thing.
A Decade to Grow or Keep<p>A natural tree of average size (2-2.5 metres tall, 10-15 years old) <a href="https://www.carbontrust.com/news/2013/01/christmas-tree-disposal-advice/" target="_blank">has a carbon footprint</a> of about 3.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) — about the same as driving a car 14 kilometres.</p><p>This footprint increases dramatically if the tree is sent to landfill. When it decomposes, it will produce methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and generate a much larger footprint — close to 16 kilograms of CO2e. If the tree is <a href="https://toronto.citynews.ca/2008/01/03/how-to-dispose-of-your-christmas-tree/" target="_blank">composted or recycled</a>, a common practice in many major cities — the environmental footprint remains low.</p><p>By comparison, a <a href="https://www.carbontrust.com/news/2013/01/christmas-tree-disposal-advice/" target="_blank">two-metre tall artificial</a> tree has a carbon footprint of about 40 kilograms CO2e based on the production of the materials alone.</p>
Burning Trees<p>This gives ecologically minded Canadians some sense of the impacts of their choice. But other factors are also at play. Real trees are <a href="https://www.narcity.com/news/ca/christmas-trees-in-canada-are-running-low-and-prices-are-rising" target="_blank">becoming scarce and more expensive</a>. In the U.S., the average price of a real tree in 2019 has <a href="https://fortune.com/2019/12/02/christmas-trees-2019/" target="_blank">increased to $78 from $75 in 2018</a>.</p><p>Weather has taken a toll on Christmas trees. In the U.S., hot weather and too much rain are considered contributing factors to a <a href="https://www.today.com/news/tight-supply-christmas-trees-could-mean-higher-prices-t167619" target="_blank">shortage of trees</a>, and wildfires <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/a-wildfire-wiped-out-their-christmas-tree-farm-and-livelihood-now-they-wonder-what-to-do-next/2018/12/21/966080cc-023d-11e9-9122-82e98f91ee6f_story.html" target="_blank">damaged or destroyed some farms</a>. Heat waves in 2017 and 2018 killed <a href="https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/christmas-tree-shortage/283-682f4617-5af6-42f3-b9b8-575cf8dfc1ba" target="_blank">young seedlings in Oregon</a> and will impact tree supply in years to come.</p>
Oh, Christmas Tree<p>Economics has also played a role in tree availability. Today's trees were planted around the time of the Great Recession of 2008.</p><p>The impacts of this economic downturn were far-reaching in the industry. As demand fell during those years, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/02/us/christmas-tree-shortage-demand-supply-trnd/index.html" target="_blank">many growers went out of business</a>. This reduced the number of trees planted and contributed to the scarcity in today's Christmas tree marketplace.</p><p>The Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association has shrunk dramatically in the past 15 years — from <a href="https://globalnews.ca/news/6282405/canada-christmas-trees-shortage/" target="_blank">300 members to about 80 today</a>.</p><p>Is it time to give up on real Christmas trees?</p><p>Holiday trees provide <a href="https://treecanada.ca/blog/why-buying-a-fake-christmas-tree-just-doesnt-cut-it/" target="_blank">wildlife habitat, protect soil, moderate floods and drought, filter air and sequester carbon while they grow</a>. Tree farms also provide local economic benefits that don't come with foreign-made products.</p>
By Sharon Elber
You may have heard that giving a pet for Christmas is just a bad idea. Although many people believe this myth, according to the ASPCA, 86 percent of adopted pets given as gifts stay in their new homes. These success rates are actually slightly higher than average adoption/rehoming rates. So, if done well, giving an adopted pet as a Christmas gift can work out.
1. The right fit is more important than the right time.<p>One mistake to avoid when <a href="https://www.wileypup.com/why-adopt-a-shelter-dog/" target="_blank">deciding to rescue a dog</a> over the holidays is to force the timing while compromising on the right fit for your lifestyle. Important considerations like breed mix and/or personality type can be neglected as families rush to adopt and make a selection from the limited options available at that specific time. </p> <p>The holidays are a busy time for animal shelters which can cause the selection of dogs to wane in the weeks leading up to Christmas in particular. It is a mistake to adopt a dog simply to check the box. Instead, carefully consider your family's lifestyle and work with a shelter and/or foster and breed rescue groups in your area to find a canine companion with the right personality, exercise needs and training requirements for your family. </p> <p>Consider offering an "Adopt a Dog" coupon if you can't find the right fit in time for the big day. This will give your children the excitement of knowing a new furry addition to the family is on the way, while also offering the benefit of getting them involved in the selection process. Dog toys in advance of your new dog's arrival also make great stocking stuffers.</p>
2. Make sure to budget for post adoption expenses.<p>The adoption fee often covers the cost of any vaccinations and/or spay/neutering that your rescued dog has already had prior to adoption. However, it is important to schedule a vet visit within a few weeks of your adoption, make sure your new family member is up to date on vaccines, and cover the initial cost of monthly medications such as heartworm and flea/tick prevention. These costs can easily mount to $300 or more, so be sure your post-holiday budget has room for these costs. </p> <p>In addition, you will have food, toys and bedding costs that always spike when adopting a new dog. Allow for these costs as well or incorporate them into your other gift purchases this year.</p>
3. Build a holiday schedule that accounts for the needs of your new pet.<p>Rehoming is generally a stressful time for animals in the rescue system. Often unsure if they have found a permanent home or just another temporary location, dogs can be prone to developing anxiety issues if transitions are not handled with care. </p> <p>If you have holiday travel plans, it might be better to wait until the new year to adopt. Bringing a dog home only to drop them off at the kennel a few days later is not the best idea for your new pet. Instead, plan a "<a href="https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/care/dog-friendly-travel-staycation-ideas%20" target="_blank">staycation</a>" if you adopt a dog this holiday season and make sure to schedule time for dog-focused events such as extra walks, training sessions and fun games like fetch and tug.</p>
4. Get the kids involved in the care of your new pet.<p>Depending on your child's age, taking on some level of responsibility for the care and training of the new member of your family is critical. This helps them to learn valuable lessons about caring for animals, responsibility, as well as offering a chance to build a human/animal bond built on trust and respect. </p> <p>For example, children ages 3 - 5 years old can assist with daily care routines such as feeding, checking water and walking your dog. Older children can participate in training sessions and take on more responsibilities like joining in on puppy classes. Dogs need daily exercise and mental stimulation, so consider creating a responsibility calendar for kids so everyone in the household has a part in caring for your pet.</p>
5. Look beyond the shelter for adoptable dogs.<p>Finally, if you visit the shelter and don't find the dog you are looking for, do some research to locate other adoption options in your community. For example, there are many breed rescue organizations devoted to saving particular dog breeds from kill shelters, puppy mills and abandonment. In addition, many communities have networks of volunteers devoted to fostering dogs until they find their forever homes that you may find on social networks or by a basic internet search.</p> <p>One big advantage of going through these volunteer organizations before adopting a dog for Christmas is that they have direct experience living with the dog in a home setting. This means they can speak honestly and knowledgeably about any special needs, compatibility with other pets in the household, or suitability for your family's lifestyle, dog friendly amenities (such as a fenced yard), and dog ownership experience.</p> <p>Giving your kids an adopted dog at Christmastime is about more than watching their faces light up with joy when they receive their new pet. With a little planning and consideration, you can make sure your adopted dog is a good fit for your family so that the joy your new pet bring extends way beyond the holiday season.</p>
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The holiday season is supposed to be about giving and sharing, but often it is actually about throwing away. The U.S. generates 25 percent more garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year's than it does during the rest of the year. That's around one million extra tons per week, according to National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) figures reported by The Associated Press.
1. Make Your Own Tree<p>There's an <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/green-christmas-eco-friendly-2623425137.html" target="_self">ongoing debate</a> as to whether it is more ecologically friendly to buy a natural tree every year or reuse a plastic one. But neither option is climate neutral, according to <a href="https://www.omnicalculator.com/ecology/zero-waste-christmas-tree#just-how-green-is-your-tree" target="_blank">Omni's Christmas Tree Footprint Calculator</a>.<br></p><p>This tool helps you calculate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with a variety of Christmas tree options and disposal methods so you can make the greenest choice you can. A natural tree thrown in a landfill burns 21.02 kilograms of carbon dioxide, a landfilled plastic tree burns 35.16 kilograms and a replanted potted tree burns only 1.64 kilograms. But only one option emits zero carbon: making a tree of your own from items already in your home.</p><p>In addition to calculating carbon footprints, the tool also gives you instructions for making trees from books, cans, floating baubles, cardboard or succulents. Compared to a plastic tree, a book tree can save the amount of carbon dioxide generated by 84 miles of driving.</p><p>But if you really crave that pine-needle smell, you can reduce the footprint of a medium-sized live tree down to 5.724 kilograms of carbon dioxide by donating it to the elephants at your local zoo.</p>
2. Give Up on Gifts<p>More and more people are turning away from the tradition of exchanging store-bought presents. This is especially the case for the younger generation, Waste and Resource Action Programme campaigner Richard Clapham told <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/christmas-presents-plastic-packaging-waste-family-stress-a9179926.html" target="_blank">The Independent in November</a>.</p><p>"They're increasingly looking for experiences rather than 'stuff.' I think this is partly driven by their concern for the planet but also because they already have so much stuff," he said.</p><p>If you opt not to buy things, there are still many creative ways to tell loved-ones you care. <a href="https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention" target="_blank">The Peninsula Sanitary Service and the Stanford Recycling Center</a> have several alternative gift suggestions including trips to museums or parks, certificates to help with chores around the house or handmade presents. You can <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/environmental-nonprofit-recommendations-2641495614.html" target="_self">also make a donation</a> in your own or someone else's name.</p><p>Jane Ruessman, a 58-year-old translator from the UK, told The Independent that she banned presents from her family gathering. Instead, everyone gets a handmade paper hat.</p><p>"Getting together at Christmas was initially a bit of a nightmare as we all felt that we should bring along a present for all those who were coming," she said. "It was nice but pretty stressful and we would end up spending a lot of money and going home with an awful lot of stuff that we generally didn't need at all and didn't know what to do with."</p><p>And that's the last thing the planet needs.</p>
3. Make Your Feast Last<p>Americans toss an extra five million pounds of food on average between Thanksgiving and New Year's, <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-simple-hacks-to-help-you-stop-wasting-leftovers-over-the-holidays-2018-11-26" target="_blank">MarketWatch reported</a>. But it doesn't have to be that way.</p><p>There are plenty of delicious strategies for making your holiday meal last as long as possible. If you served meat, you can use it for soups or stews, or toss it in dishes like lasagna. Leftover vegetables are great in frittatas or omelettes. It's also important to freeze leftovers before they go bad. <a href="https://hartfordclimate.org/2017/11/22/zero-food-waste-holiday/" target="_blank">The Hartford Climate Stewardship Initiative</a> recommends keeping enough in your fridge for three days of leftovers and freezing the rest immediately.</p><p>You can also give your food away. Ask your guests to come with their own to-go containers and send them away with the next day's lunch. Unused canned or dry food can be donated to a food drive.</p><p>It's also a good idea to reflect after this year's meals, assess how much you actually ate, and plan to make less next year.</p><p>"If everyone had their fill, and you still had leftovers, maybe during the next round of holiday shopping you think about the excess you had and say what if you purchased the same amount and only prepared half of it?" Lisa Sposato, director of food sourcing at New York charity City Harvest, told MarketWatch.</p>
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By Jennifer Molidor, PhD
Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.
Food is the cornerstone of the holiday season. It brings friends and family together to share memories, cultural traditions, and great flavors.