With the holidays upon us, our schedules can get quite hectic. Holiday parties and dinners, festive outings and traditions – how can we find time to take care of our personal health and wellness when our schedules are packed with events?
It’s important to keep your health your top priority, especially over the holidays when we tend to have little time for ourselves. Most people love the holiday season but let’s be honest, your body dreads the overwhelming amounts of tempting food that is hard to avoid. Excess sugar, sodium and fat easily find their way onto our plates. Healthy eating goes out the window, workouts get forgotten and the weight creeps back on. Come the New Year, you’re left feeling sluggish and exhausted! But it doesn’t have to be this way! Eating healthy over the holidays does not need to be a difficult task. You can survive the holidays eating healthy by choosing quality foods that are nourishing and satisfying, helping you feeling energized while keeping your waistline trim!
To make sure you stay on track for this time of the year, you’re going to need a plan. So here are my top eight healthy holidays tips that are sure to keep you and your family on track this season!
1. Start your day with a nourishing breakfast
Breakfast sets the tone of the day. If your morning routine begins with a cream cheese filled bagel plus a coffee with added sugar, you can expect to experience a very large spike in your blood sugar, followed by a not-so-healthy and draining plummet in blood sugar. These highs and lows will have you craving more food, will impair your digestion and affect your liver’s ability to detoxify effectively, not to mention taking you on a emotional roller coaster. Not an ideal way to start your day! Instead, opt for a smoothie made with brown rice protein powder, organic fresh berries and almond butter. This combination will provide you with the fuel to get your day started and put a halt to those ravenous sugar cravings. A protein smoothie is ideal for those busy mornings when you are rushing out of the door to finish up your holiday shopping.
2. Stay hydrated
Hydration is so important, especially when we’re drinking more alcohol and caffeine than usual. Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, causing us to lose more water than normal. For every cup of coffee or glass of wine you indulge in over the holidays, be sure to include two cups of water to help keep your cells hydrated. Doctor F. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, states, “Chronic dehydration is the root cause of almost all currently encountered major illnesses of the human body.” Signs of dehydration include, headaches, dizziness, dry lips, fatigue and constipation. I recommend drinking between 10-12 glasses of fresh spring water daily to stay hydrated and energized.
3. Stay active
It’s easy to put on a few unwanted pounds over the holidays. An extra glass of wine, a generous piece of your favorite decadent chocolate cake, plus an aperitif after your meal; those calories can add up fast! So make time to hit the gym, attend a yoga class, or a fitness class of your liking. Be sure to schedule this time into your calendar, preferably earlier in your day, as you’ll be more likely to stick to it. I suggest taking a light walk after a heavy meal to help manage blood sugar and aid in digestion. Plus, you’ll be less likely to indulge in more food once you’ve left the table.
4. Fill your plate with veggies
A large portion of your plate should be filled with fresh vegetables and salad. It’s tempting to want to indulge in a large serving of your aunt’s world famous potato casserole, but doing so will leave you feeling sluggish and deprive your body of essential minerals needed for energy and metabolism. A large leafy green salad and a serving of vegetables will provide you with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed for healthy cellular support. These nutrients are vital to helping you stay energized and nourished. They support your immunity, aid in preventing disease and most importantly, provide you with fiber. Fiber helps to keep your bowels functioning optimally and pulls toxins from your body. This is especially important when indulging in not-so-healthy goodies over the holidays.
5. Don’t go to a party hungry
We all know what happens when we show up at grandma’s and she’s cooked up a mighty fine feast with all the fixings! I can speak for myself; I’ve inhaled food faster than you can say quinoa! Worst part is, I eat so much, and so fast that I get sleepy and my head nearly flops onto the dinner table. Eat something light and healthy before heading out to a dinner party will help keep you satiated and help you avoid over eating. Choose a quality protein source with some fat, for example, some grilled organic tempeh tossed with some mixed greens, grated beets and topped with a variety of nuts and seeds. Or an apple spread with almond butter and sprinkled with hemp seeds for an extra boost of nutrients. A smoothie with protein powder, chia seeds and fresh fruit will also do the trick!
6. Get juicing
An amazing and delicious way to get added nutrients, boost alkalinity and provide abundant energy is to make a homemade fresh pressed organic juice. Juicing provides your body with a rush of healthy nutrients directly to your cells. I often find, within minutes after consuming a juice, I have a boost of energy and a surge of mental clarity. This is a great way to start your day. Juicing over the holidays is ideal as it can help to counteract the excess acidity in our body caused from the over consumption of sugar, alcohol, dairy and heavy meats. If we are consistently eating acidic foods, we throw off our acid-alkaline balance and deplete essential minerals. A fresh pressed juice is a simple and effective way to get much-needed minerals into the cells and will have you feeling revitalized in no time. I recommend choosing organic vegetables to avoid any excess pesticides and herbicides. Your juice should be 80-90% vegetable based, with a small amount of fruit. Here’s my favorite glowing green juice recipe:
– 2-3 celery stalks
– Half a cucumber
– Large bunch romaine lettuce
– Half a green apple
– Half a lemon, with peel on
– 1/2-inch piece ginger
Slowly add all ingredients into your juicer. Don’t have a juicer? You can make a glowing green smoothie in your blender. Using just 1 celery stalk, chop up all other ingredients into equal sized portions. Add to blender with 2-3 cups of fresh spring water, and blend. You may need less or more water, depending on the strength of your blender. Blending will help to retain the fiber from the vegetables, causing for a slower release of nutrients and will keep you feeling full longer than a fresh pressed juice. Feel free to use whichever vegetables you have on hand. Spinach, kale, dandelion, beets or carrots; these are all great for juicing and blending. Bitter vegetables, such as dandelion are great for cleansing the liver, plus they contain high amounts of Vitamin C. Use an array of vegetables and don’t be hesitant to experiment.
7. Offer to bring food to a dinner party
This is a great way to ensure that something healthy will be on the dinner table. We can’t control what others cook and decide to prepare for a holiday feast, but we can offer up our help. Preparing a quinoa salad with fresh veggies makes a great healthy side dish. Or a roasted veggie platter is a no-fuss dish to prepare and always looks elegant. Choose from seasonal vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, sweet potato and other delicious winter squashes. Fresh herbs such a rosemary, thyme and oregano add great flavor to roasted vegetables. If preparing a main dish isn’t your thing, offer to bring a dessert. Nothing is better than controlling the amount of sugar and fat you use in a sweet treat. If you are looking to save on calories and eat something lighter for dessert, prepare a fresh berry crumble with gluten free oats, coconut flakes and coconut sugar. This incredible and sweet sugar comes from the sap of the coconut. It’s lower glycemic than regular sugar and won’t spike blood sugar as quickly – which is a good thing for your waistline. Plus, when using fresh berries that are naturally sweet, you can always cut the amount of sugar you use by half without noticing a difference in sweetness.
8. Consciously commit yourself to eating healthy
Often times we feel embarrassed about speaking up about our personal health and wellness. Be sure to tell your friends and family that you’re consciously choosing to eat healthy over the holidays and would appreciate their love and support. It’s common to receive a roll of the eye, or a look of disappointment from a family member when discussing such things, but we can’t let our friends and family dictate how we choose to eat.
Letting others know that you are choosing to take care of your health and personal well being puts you on the line for actually following through with it. Just maybe, you’ll encourage others to make healthier choices too! Inspiring and motivating others to eat well is in my books, the best gift you can give!
So there you have it, my top eight holiday eating tips to keep your body happy, healthy and fit. Remember always to have a plan when stepping up to the dinner table or else the tempting goodness that awaits you can be very convincing and downright destructive. Start your new year off ahead of the curve by staying on track over the holidays and your body will thank you.
Samantha Gladish is a holistic wellness coach who helps people transform their mind, body and spirit by teaching them how to nourish their body with organic and quality foods. Through personal consultations and workshops, her insights and advice inspire readers and clients to be more conscious in their lifestyle choices so that they too can experience a higher level of wellbeing. Samantha graduated as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition; is a Hatha Yoga Instructor & Qualitarian Pioneer. www.holisticwellness.ca