The year-end festivities are a time to celebrate but they don’t have to rhyme only with food, drink and overindulgence. After all the holidays are primarily an opportunity to spend time with family, friends, and other loved ones. Of course food and drink are part of that but there’s no reason your celebrations can’t be healthy and delicious, even with the overindulgence!
Keeping the festivities and your body healthy doesn’t have to be difficult – all it takes is a bit of re-focus and moderation. Here are a few tips that can help you do just that, without too much effort! Your body (and your family) will thank you, and your New Year’s resolutions will be much easier!
Keep the Focus on Fun, Family and Friends!
Instead of focusing on the food, focus on the relationships and fun. Go out into the crisp winter air all together and regularly, breathe in deeply, taking walks in the woods, sledging if there’s snow, playing team sports against each other – keep it moving and playful! A US study showed that people who exercised during the holidays did not gain the usual pound per year that adults otherwise gained (and could then not get rid of) at this time of the year – avoiding the slow accumulation of weight year after year!
And when it comes to the holiday feast, make it “mindful” and fun as well. Savour the flavours and textures by taking your time, chewing thoroughly and taking breaks between courses, giving your stomach the time to feel full. Instead of buying processed, store-made treats, why not experiment with healthier versions of your favourite recipes? Make it a family affair: alternate your family’s favourite cake and cookie recipes with almond or coconut flour instead of wheat, for instance. Here’s one I’ve tried – my version of low-sugar and gluten-free Festive Peanut Butter Cookies.
Sugar, Processed Foods, Carbs, and Alcohol Beware!
These “foods” feed and create a favourable environment for unhelpful bacteria, yeast and fungal infections to thrive, unbalancing your gut flora and making your body more susceptible to infections and inflammation. Keep these to a minimum, drink plenty of clean water and if you want to indulge in something sweet, make it part of a healthy meal and keep it in moderation. To help you avoid the main meal binge, have some healthy snacks between meals – especially those rich in proteins and healthy fats, which will keep you feeling full longer such as raw organic seeds and nuts, including in butter form or even just a teaspoon of coconut oil! This is especially helpful when you are going to a party as a guest.
Add Healthy, Delicious Vegetable and Fat options (yes I said fat!) to Your Festive Meals.
Adding fibre-rich and nutrient-rich vegetables as well as good healthy fats to your festive meals will not only help keep your diet more balanced but will also keep you feeling more full and therefore less likely to overindulge. Include a rainbow of vegetable colours and flavours to your meal. Use plenty of healthy fats such as organic extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, flax/linseed oil or ghee. Make it a discovery of new flavours and colours! Click here for a delicious and colourful festive veggie recipe.
Green Juicing Galore!
Fresh vegetable juicing is one of the easiest ways of getting your 4-5 cups of veggies a day in a concentrated nutritiously-packed way. Plant enzymes in the juice will support your liver and digestive track in helping your body’s natural detoxification processes, making recovery from the festive overindulgence less difficult! Remember that when juicing you want to stick to vegetables and limit fruits to keep sugar levels low. Blending may be a better option since it maintains the fibre that is so important to health. All you need to get started on this healthy habit and bring your body a little bit of balance during the festivities is to have 1 a day! Click here for my favourite green juice recipe!
Warming Yuletide Drinks
Staying hydrated is essential to help with elimination (and has the added benefit of keeping you feeling full) but be sure to drink water and not sugar or chemical-rich drinks. Why not try some warming and healthy drinks that have the benefit of being anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial as well? What could be more seasonal than warming spicy teas such as: hot lemon juice or ginger tea with a touch of honey to help maintain your body’s healthy PH levels and aid digestion. Or tea and milk-free chai (combine ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper and boil for 10-15 minutes in water – add liquorice root as well if you want a bit of sweetness or use organic fresh apple juice for a more festive option).
Last Line of Defence: Prevention!
Although I’m not a supporter of heavy supplementation, sometimes they are simply called for. If you’re prone to gut inflammation or infections, you may want to consider taking digestive enzymes and pre/probiotics preventatively. Digestive enzymes help speed up breakdown, absorption and excretion of macronutrients that may be toxic or inflammatory.
Some helpful ones are:
- Digestive enzymes tablets which include dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP-IV), since this helps break down gluten. I like Gluten-Gest from Allergy Research Group which contains a mix of helpful enzymes, especially for processed food indulgence. For the non-vegetarians amongst you who need a bit of help with rich fatty foods as well, try Intenzyme Forte from Biotics Research.
- Pre and probiotics help maintain your healthy gut flora balance. I suggest some Saccharomyces boulardii (actually a type of “friendly fungus/yeast”) with alternating single strains of Lactobacilus GG (Culturelle from Allergy research group) and Bifidobacterium bifidum (Bio Bifido Bac-T from Biotics Research) or if you can’t be bothered with alternating, try a multi-strain mix such as GI Flora or SymBiotics with FOS from Allergy Research Group)
All of these supplements can be found at Nutri-Link. Quote BISC.S1 or my name to get 10% off the retail price.
Here’s to happy, healthy and fun celebrations with you and your loved ones! Stay well.