Holiday Traditions

Dear VitaMist Family,

On December 25th, we will be joining our family and love ones by sitting down for Christmas Dinner.  I know I am and I am sure we are all very, very grateful for what we have in our lives.  I think Christmas is my favorite holiday.  At no other point in the year are traditions more deeply rooted than on this special day.  Whether it is decorating the entire house, putting up Christmas lights, shopping for the people you love, preparing your classic Christmas meal, humming along to Christmas music, or occasionally belting out a few lyrics yourself.  The fact that we are doing this with the people we love is what makes Christmas mean so much to me.

Doing all of these things with family only makes this season more magical, and since all of you are part of my family, I want to share these joys with you.  I ask you to do me a favor and brighten up my holiday.  Share your Christmas traditions with the rest of the VitaMist family and me on Facebook.  Whether it is a story, a fond memory, photos of your decorations, or video of your lighting extravaganza.  I would love to see it all.  You can post your traditions directly to, or better yet, post it as your status, then click “share” and send it to us.  The latter will help spread the Christmas spirit not just to the VitaMist family, but also to all of your friends and family!

Then, in keeping with a timeless Christmas tradition, I will be giving out Christmas gifts.  Three family members who share their holiday traditions will be chosen to receive a free VitaMist product.  We will also feature your holiday traditions in the January issue of The VitaMist View.  Multiple entries aren’t just allowed; they’re encouraged!

Merry Christmas!   ●   Happy Holidays!   ●   And a Very Happy New Year!


From My Heart With LOV ♥ Sari

What You Should Eat After Overeating

We’ve all done it.  Every one of us has overeaten at some point, and it’s bound to happen again.  We tackle that holiday meal with a little too much zeal, or over-cheat on our ‘cheat day.’  We might spend the rest of the evening parked on the couch, trying not to explode.  Worse, we often find ourselves in a shame spiral, lamenting our poor choices, and vowing to ourselves, “Never again!”  That promise is one you’re almost guaranteed to break.  So what should you do after overindulging?  Rather than wallowing in guilt and making empty promises, it’s healthier both mentally and physically to take a proactive approach.  Your goal the day after a binge should be limiting the damage, and helping your body to normalize.

What do I mean by normalizing?  Well, you need to address a few things that overeating does to our bodies ASAP.  For starters, blood sugar spikes are the path to the dark side Type II Diabetes.  As your blood sugar skyrockets, your insulin levels increase to compensate.  Increased insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance and diabetic or pre-diabetic conditions.  Another threat is that eating too many calories puts your body on the defensive against free radicals.  Yes, those pesky free radicals are even produced by digestion, and when you digest too much, your body’s defenses may not be able to keep up.  There’s also the sodium issue to worry about, and the cardiovascular problems it can cause.

To prevent these free radical, blood sugar, and sodium spikes from causing too much damage, it’s important to focus on the way to get your body back to normal.  The good news is that recovering from a binge can be much tastier than you would expect.  Here are six foods and beverages that will help you get right.

Grab Some Fruit

But fruit is loaded with sugar, isn’t it?  Yes indeed.  The good news, though, is that natural foods tend to provide enough good nutrients to outweigh the bad.  Fruits have a fair amount of sugar, but it also has a lot of fiber.  The insoluble fiber in fruits can aid in cleaning out your digestive tract after a night of clogging up that very same digestive tract.  Then the soluble fiber not only contributes to reducing cholesterol, but it can also help to stabilize your blood sugar levels.

Another major bonus to fruit is that it’s often packed with antioxidants, which will help neutralize free radicals that have burdened your body.  Fruits like apples, grapes, cherries, and especially berries (of the raspberry and blackberry varieties) will go to work seeking out and destroying those free radicals.  If you want to be proactive when you find yourself in a situation where overeating is a definite possibility, try including fruit at the same time.  Though the best choice is to not overeat in the first place, if you’re going to do it, add fruit to the menu.  It’s a bit like drinking a lot of water when you know you’re going to overdo it on the alcohol.

Side Note:  While cranberries contain anti-oxidants, that doesn’t mean that cranberry sauce is OK to overeat.  For starters, it usually has way too much added sugar to be considered healthy, and its most prominent anti-oxidant, Vitamin C, is destroyed by heat.  Cooking up cranberry sauce makes it a rather weak source of nutrients.  Cranberry juice suffers from the same problems.  What you may want to try are cranberries that you dried yourself. Doing it yourself avoids much of the degradation of Vitamin C and Vitamin A caused by the commercial drying process.  Just put them in the oven with the words, “low and slow,” in mind.  Drying them at a low temperature over a long time can preserve many more of the beneficial nutrients.

Eat a Banana

Right about now you’re probably thinking, “I don’t know if you know this, Steve, but bananas are fruits, too.”  Before you worry about my inability to categorize bananas correctly, know that this one is on the list for a different reason.  The modern diet is heavy in salt, and this can have a lot of adverse side effects.  You may have heard that salt makes you retain water, and this is more or less true.  Tipping the sodium/potassium balance in favor of sodium makes it tough for your kidneys to filter water out of your body.  These high sodium levels lead to not only increased blood pressure as your blood’s water content elevates but also a variety of medical conditions caused by increased inflammation.  There are two ways to maintain a healthy sodium to potassium ratio.  The first and best way is to reduce your sodium intake, but when you’ve failed at this, you can alleviate some of the strain on your body by increasing your potassium.  Hence the bananas.

Contrary to popular belief, the best sources of potassium are not bananas.  Foods such as spinach, black beans, white beans, watermelon, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash all have more.  After a night of stuffing your stomach, topping off with heavy foods like sweet potatoes and beans might be difficult, but adding some frozen spinach, a watermelon slice, or a banana to your next meal should be pretty easy on your tummy.

Sip Some Juice

“Again with the fruit, Steve!”  Settle down, fictional reader.  I don’t mean fruit juice here.  Cranberry juice and orange juice might contain antioxidants, but I’ve already talked about the problem with added sugar in these drinks.  Additionally, those antioxidants are less than you’ve been lead to believe thanks to pasteurization.  A more straightforward term for pasteurization would be boiling because that’s what they do to kill off bacteria.  It also has the effect of destroying a lot of the goodness in your juices.

No, by juice, I mean making a healthy juice cocktail yourself.  The morning after you overeat, bust out your blender and toss in these nutrient-dense ingredients:

Option One- Sweet-Tart Smoothie:

1 Granny Smith Apple, 1 Cup of Pineapple, 1 Cucumber, 3 Kale Leaves, 1 Handful Mint, 1/2 Peeled Lemon

Option Two- Tangy Apple-Kale Juice:

3 Red Apples, 3 Kale Leaves, 1/2 Peeled Lemon

Option Three- Fresh Herb Juice:

1 Cucumber, 2 Celery Stalks, 1 Handful Cilantro, 4 Basil Sprigs, 2 Red Apples

Option Four- Kickin’ Juice Cocktail:

1 Red Apple, 1 Cucumber, 1/2 Ginger Root Knob, 1 Handful Mint, 1 Spicy Pepper (Choose a spice level that’s right for you.  If spicy isn’t your thing, you can try a fresh jalepeño.  Removing the seeds makes them much less hot, and they have a great flavor.  Or don’t add peppers at all!  There just won’t be any kick to the Kickin’ Juice Cocktail.)

Don’t forget to core your apples!  They’re often easier to blend if you cut them into slices.  You can always add a teaspoon of turmeric to any of these juices for additional benefits, but I’ll have more on that later.

Add a Splash of Vinegar

Blood sugar spikes aren’t just dangerous for people with diabetes.  They can lead to diabetes, and after a blood sugar spike comes a sugar crash.  Accompanying this crash is a drastically increased appetite, which means that overeating one day makes you more likely to overeat the next day.  So how do you prevent a cycle of overeating?  That’s where vinegar comes to the rescue.  Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity and lowers both blood sugar and insulin responses.  Just a tablespoon added to a meal can have a positive effect on your blood sugar.  A good rule of thumb is that the darker the vinegar, the better it is for you.  Raspberry vinegar, balsamic, and red wine vinegar are all much better for you than white vinegar.  A couple of exceptions are that apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar are both very healthy as well, with apple cider vinegar coming in second place behind raspberry.

Spice It Up

Vinegar can provide a nice, healthy flavor punch, but so can spices.  With the wide variety of spices on the market, there are also a wide variety of effects.  Capsaicin, for example, helps your body to metabolize all of that extra fat you had with your Christmas ham.  Capsaicin, if you haven’t heard, is what makes peppers spicy, making cayenne pepper a healthy kick in the pants.  Turmeric is also heralded for its anti-inflammatory properties and is used in Indian foods, relish, and mustard blends.  It adds a pleasant bitter or pungent flavor to your meal.  Other spices that may help lower fat levels and insulin while providing anti-oxidants include fresh cracked pepper, cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, oregano, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder.  In other words, a great way to compensate for overeating is to make your meals taste better.

Last But Certainly Not Least

You thought that making up for a cheat day was going to be painful, didn’t you?  So far I’ve told you that the best way to limit the damage is to eat some tasty fruits and juices, then make your meals more delicious with spices and a splash of vinegar.  This is almost too easy, isn’t it?  Well, it’s about to get even easier, and more enjoyable.  Tip number six is to drink some wine.  That’s right, wine is loaded with antioxidants, good for your heart, and has been shown to help shed pounds.  It follows the same rule as vinegar in that the darker the wine, the better it is for you.  So top off your holiday meal with a glass of merlot, and relax in the comfort of knowing that its antioxidants are undoing a lot of the adverse effects that overeating caused.  Of course, you should consume wine in moderation, or you will run into problems from the alcohol content.  Your liver has to work harder to filter it out, and your kidneys can strain under the pressure of dehydration.  That said, a glass of wine is the perfect way to top off a great meal, for both your health and your sense of satisfaction.

Sari’s Letter, November 2017

Dear Vitamist Family,
As we head into this Holiday Season I thought I would share this wonderful story with you;

Tablecloth of Memories

My family’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition began in November 2001. I was hosting the big dinner only weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Like many Americans, we were still in shock, still hurting. We kept thinking about all the families around the country whose Thanksgiving dinners would never be the same.

As we finished our meal that year, I brought in a package of fabric pens. I asked our family and guests to write something on the tablecloth that they were thankful for. Everyone took turns writing short notes on the cloth, and we have continued to bring out the pens every year. Notes of love for family, our country and our God are arranged in an intricate puzzle across the light yellow cloth. Children’s handprints are tucked in next to earnest messages of gratitude, while Great-Grandma Cusumano’s shaky writing holds a special place in the center of the mosaic.

The tablecloth has become precious to our family. Every November, my children request the honor of putting out the tablecloth, just like they ask to put the angel on top of our Christmas tree. When Thanksgiving Day arrives, our guests smile and laugh as they read through the memories, while the children search to find their handprints, thrilled to see how much they’ve grown.

When the guests have gone home and the dishes have been put away, I take a few moments for a tradition of my own: reading the special messages left behind by my family and friends. Not all of our family members are present every year, but their words remain on the cloth, reminding me to say a prayer of thanks for each one of them.

—Joanne Kraft, from her book Just Too Busy

From My Heart With LOV – Sari

How to Fall Asleep Faster and Feel More Rested

There are six tips the National Sleep Foundation Recommends for getting a good night’s sleep.  While you’ll find many articles online containing sleep tips, old wives’ tails, and rumors about how to get that perfect night’s rest, these six tips are the most proven and reliable.

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
  3. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
  4. Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
  5. Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
  6. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up.

But even with a set schedule and a full night’s sleep, your body is a fickle thing. If you somehow manage to resist the Instagram rabbit holes, Netflix binges, and nagging anxieties to get a full night’s sleep, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to spend the next day feeling chipper. While nearly two-thirds of American adults regularly get at least seven hours of sleep, only one in seven wakes up feeling refreshed every day of the week. What’s more, 45 percent of those getting seven to eight hours a night still feel fatigued as many as three days a week. On the other hand, there are those weird days where you’ve spent the night tossing and turning, get out of bed in the morning expecting to feel like a zombie, and feel pretty okay. Normal, even.

The reason is that tiredness is complicated: the relationship between sleep and energy level is less one-to-one than you might believe. In fact, fatigue is defined as a “nonspecific symptom,” meaning it can arise from many causes.

And so can the lack thereof. If the workday after a sleepless night feels like any other day, there are a few different explanations for your mysterious alertness — and understanding them can help you the next time around. Here are a few questions to ask yourself the next time you find yourself riding an unearned wave of energy (or, conversely, when you feel yourself dragging after a good night’s sleep).

What did I have for breakfast?

Was it an omelet? Some peanut butter toast? A Greek yogurt? A high-protein morning meal will keep you alert much longer than something like a pastry — protein regulates your energy levels, keeping them high and steady throughout the day.

You should probably fight the urge to grab a muffin or some other carb-laden snack for your afternoon pick-me-up. Studies have shown that we’re more likely to choose carbohydrate-heavy foods when we’re drowsy because our bodies know they’re easier to digest and offer a quicker path to an energy boost. But those increases are temporary and backfire relatively quickly — your blood sugar will spike and then drop, resulting in the dreaded carb coma. If you can stick to protein-rich meals for most of the day, then you get to reward yourself with a starchy dinner and an early bedtime. You’ve earned it.

Just don’t eat those carbs too late at night. “Eating close to bedtime can mess up your sleep, and also give you reflux,” says Cynthia Seely, a sleep and dreams researcher based in Seattle. Unless you want to have another rough night’s sleep, time that bowl of pasta for around three or four hours before calling it a night.

Have I been moving?

Light to moderate exercise improves sleep quality, as well as your perceived energy levels during the day. This doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym, either — something as low-key as walking briskly to the subway, or doing some YouTube-guided yoga before you leave for work, could have the same effect. You don’t need to go for a run or lift a bunch of weights; in fact, the accompanying physical fatigue might be less effective.

And ideally, you’ll find ways to keep yourself moving throughout the day. Even someone who got a full eight hours of rest might struggle to stay awake through a long meeting — though sitting for long periods of time doesn’t seem like it would tire you out, it can be every bit as fatiguing as more strenuous activities. Sitting puts our bodies on pause in a few different ways: Number one, your body stops producing lipase, an enzyme that gets energy from our body fat, so you have less access to your body’s natural energy. Number two, your heart rate slows, which in turn slows down your nervous system and breathing. Prolonged sitting also won’t wear out your muscles, so it doesn’t correlate with better sleep the way exercise does. Instead, you might not sleep well because you haven’t moved much, leading to a vicious cycle of daytime sleepiness and nighttime wakefulness.

How many things do I have on my plate?

This one is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, stress often seems to make people more alert, because it’s because the body’s way of functioning in the face of obstacles that might otherwise put it out of commission. “[Say] there’s something stressful where you just have to function regardless,” Seely says. “I think you can do that for a period.” If you sit down at your desk, glance at your to-do list, and notice that you feel wide awake, this might be why.

But stress can only keep the body going for so long, and because the body is putting forth more energy than it has in the bank, sooner or later, a stress-induced high will necessitate an equal and opposite low. Or, as Seely puts it, “At some point, you’re going to crash.” Plus, high-stress levels can lower your sleep quality, which will add to your fatigue without your knowing it. (By the way, if you are one of those strange people who falls asleep as a response to severe stress, here’s why.)

On the flip side, fatigue can set in when the mind is understimulated. The solution to boredom-induced tiredness is similar to the one for sitting —find gentle ways to stimulate your brain that doesn’t take up too much of your mental energy. So if you’re nodding off on a long car ride, for example, put on upbeat music; if you’re starting to doze off in class, try doodling.

And finally, is anyone I love mad at me?

Relationships can be huge contributors to stress, Seely says. Mainly because many people sleep next to their partners, inter-relationship tension can drain reserves throughout the day and night.

In this case, fatigue can be helpful — after all, it’s a warning sign that you’re dealing with a more significant problem. It might be a stretch to say you can measure your relationship’s health using your tiredness as a barometer, but the extra data point can’t hurt.

8 Clever Thanksgiving Promotions for Small Businesses

Thanksgiving is about more than turkey and family and watching the Detroit Lions lose. It’s about getting your hair cut and your car fixed and your clothes cleaned and finding somewhere to eat turkey and watch the Lions lose other than with your family. That’s why small businesses are around, to give people the options they need to get those things done quickly before the holidays.

Thanksgiving promotions are pretty much required if you run a small business, but you want to stand out. And here’s eight great ideas that will keep your business top of mind.


Do something for a different holiday

Sure, anybody can put some canned pumpkin filling on special and call it a “Thanksgiving Blowout.” But do you know anybody else who has a special for National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day (November 15)? Or False Confession Day (November 21)? As long as you don’t get carried away with that second one and start telling customers you sold their credit card numbers to a Nigerian clearing house, you’ll be the first hit of the holiday season.

Other notable November dates:

19th: Have a Bad Day Day

26th: Shopping Reminder Day

29th: Buy Nothing Day

30th: Stay at Home Because You Are Well Day


Have a not-so-happy holiday contest

Stuck splitting an air mattress with your morbidly obese teenage cousin who hasn’t started using deodorant when you stay at grandma’s for the holidays? Springhill Suites by Marriott feels your pain and told holiday travelers to make a video talking about the worst part of their holidays. Then, make a case for why they need free hotel rooms for a chance to win a free stay during their holiday vacation. And, while your business may not be able to offer quite THAT much, an auto shop might ask what the worst part of holiday road trips are, or a restaurant can ask customers to make videos about how bad their holiday food is. We don’t need to explain to you what a bar can do.


Host a scavenger hunt

Since hunting wild turkeys is, well, probably illegal within 100 miles of your business, hosting an ACTUAL turkey hunt may prove logistically difficult. However a fake turkey hunt with adorable cutout turkeys at each stop around several small businesses in your area will attract crowds to every location involved. Each can offer different promotions, or you all can chip in to buy Thanksgiving Dinner for the winner.


Send a pre-Thanksgiving thank you card

Once you start getting 15 holiday cards a day, the one from your dry cleaner just gets lost in the shuffle. Sad, but true. But if you can be the first kid on the block to mail one out – possibly even for Have a Bad Day Day – and include a small gift card for your or another local business –  people WILL remember. If cost is a consideration, limit the gift cards to your best customers. But make sure everybody who’s given you regular business over the past year is getting something.


Come to work in unusual outfits

This doesn’t mean wear orange velvet puffy shirts to your weekly sales meeting or anything. Make them Thanksgiving-themed, and not the usual pilgrim, Indian and turkey. Like, someone could dress up as cranberry sauce or a stranded traveler at DFW. Or a perpetually-fumbling quarterback.


Create a fun infographic

And it better be shaped like a turkey. Even if it’s not, dig up some fun facts like how Americans ate 736 million pounds of turkey last year, at an estimated cost of $857 million. Or maybe something more relevant to your business, like tying those turkey figures into pre-New Year’s resolution gym memberships. Then put that infographic on your social media channels and wait for viral Internet fame to come knocking at your door.


Have a week-long Black Friday sale

Black Friday is usually the domain of businesses large enough to employ security teams and a YouTube channel. Small Business Saturday is probably more your niche. But what’ll really get people excited is the chance to save ALL WEEK LONG. Mark-down Mondays? Two-fer Tuesdays? Come-keep-us-company-at-the-store-because-we’re-still-open Thursdays? Whatever you can imagine, your customers will buy into.


Create promotional items made of turkey

No, not just like giving away a turkey. But like a promotional flyer or coupon MADE of turkey. Like printable turkey jerky. Hey, if Patrick Bateman can do it, so can you.