This season is a time for celebration and festivities, but for many people, it also means overeating foods that make you feel not-so-good (hello, food comas and hangovers).
For many of us, we tend to let go of our "good habits" during this festive season. We hold onto the "all or nothing" approach, vowing to start our diet in the new year, thus switching from one extreme to the other.
But what if we took another approach? What if we used the holidays to promote our health and lose the guilt?
Every day we have a choice to choose health or disease with the food we eat. So let's give ourselves the gift of health by making sure we make the right choices, every day.
Follow our top holiday tips to make this season your healthiest one yet!
This is especially important if you suffer from food intolerances or allergies. You don't want to be 'hangry' at a party with nothing you can eat! If you are going out and are not sure what kinds of foods will be served, have a light balanced meal before you leave. This will help keep your blood sugar stable and ensure you make better decisions later. Always carry a protein-rich snack in your purse in case of emergency!
Optimize your digestion
No one wants to experience that Christmas bloat. If you know you will be eating foods that don't sit well with you, bring some digestive enzymes with you to promote better digestion and minimize symptoms. Choose a broad-spectrum enzyme to ensure you are covering all of your bases. Foods like lemon, licorice, ginger, and fennel are also great pre-meal digestifs as they promote the digestive process and enzyme production.
Then when you get home, pop a probiotic and turmeric supplement. Our good gut bacteria can suffer during the holidays from overexposure of sugar and inflammatory foods. Try to include foods like sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha (a great substitute to alcohol at a party), or take a supplement before bed to ensure you are replenishing your beneficial bacteria. Tumeric is a great spice to add to foods like curries and lattes as it has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Its active component curcumin has been shown to outperform certain anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation in the body.
Keep it simple
The easiest way to stick to a healthy routine? Make it as simple as possible. Extravagant recipes calling for excessive ingredients and prepping time can seem overwhelming especially during this busy season. To set yourself up for success, stick to the basics and keep recipes as simple and easy as possible. For instance, roasted vegetables with salt and pepper or banana ice cream with cacao nibs are examples of easy recipes that require no time at all. Healthy doesn't have to be complicated!
Load up on the veggies
Whether you're loading up at the hot bar or navigating a Christmas dinner, vegetables are your friend! Ensure half of your plate is full of non-starchy vegetables and eat these first. What are non-starchy vegetables? Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and leafy greens are all fantastic examples. These will help you feel fuller faster and the fiber will support liver detoxification (yes, this will help process that glass of wine!) as well as keeping blood sugar levels stable. Your body will thank you.
Sneak nutrition into your meals
Not a fan of broccoli or kale? No problem! There are many ways to enhance your meals with nutritional properties whilst not tasting like a salad (for those picky eaters out there). What are some sneaky ways you can do this? Add spices and herbs to your dishes like ginger, turmeric, oregano, thyme, or cinnamon. This will add flavor and a nutritional boost to your meal. Swapinflammatory vegetable oils for healthier options like coconut, avocado and extra-virgin organic olive oil. Make healthier alternatives to your favorite meals (see below) like cauliflower rice, popcorn, or coconut ice cream.
In cities like Vancouver, we are lucky to have so many healthy choices at our fingertips. But even if you aren't as lucky to be surrounded by these options, you can still make them yourself at home. Making your own healthy holiday recipes will not only inspire yourself and others, but it also gives you at least one option to eat at the party, plus you'll end up feeling better. Sounds like a win-win to us!
Be smart with the liquids
It can be hard to pass on the alcohol when everyone is refilling your glass or popping champagne bottles. If you do decide to indulge, always drink at least 2 glasses of water per alcoholic drink. Alcohol is dehydrating and puts a strain on your liver (which already has to process everything else entering your body), so it's no wonder you feel less than amazing the morning after. Avoid the heavier sugar-laden drinks like cocktails and beer, and opt for red wine or a gin or vodka tonic with lemon or lime instead. Always have a protein-rich snack before drinking to keep your blood sugar from going on a roller coaster ride.
Whether you are vegan/gluten-free/dairy-free/vegetarian or simply looking to promote better health, switching out certain ingredients can make a big difference for your health.
Most of us cannot tolerate dairy and it is one of the most common causes of bloating and indigestion. Nut milks are plentiful in grocery stores nowadays, or even better; easy to make yourself! Did you think that you had to miss out on eggnog this year?
Instead of reaching for the refined sugars, choose dates, cinnamon, monk fruit, stevia, lucuma, coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey instead, to avoid inflammatory effects and harmful processing.
Are you sensitive to gluten? No fear! Gluten-free baking is easy with flours like almond, coconut, oat, buckwheat, brown rice, sorghum, teff, amaranth or whole foods like yams and oats. Check out our range of Bob's Red Mill flours and baking packs for lots of gluten-free options.