The holiday season is here! This festive time of year is filled with spending time with loved ones, lots of parties, gift shopping and indulging in a wide variety of traditional holiday foods and drinks. If you strive to eat a healthy diet while leading busy lives, the holidays can be a challenging time.
Not only are we all busier than ever, we know that all those holiday foods and drinks filled with sugar, fat, and alcohol are going to give us indigestion, sap our energy, trigger inflammation, and pile on the pounds. The key to enjoying this season is to remember to relax, maintain balance, and stay focused on your long term health goals.
Try the following 12 Tips for Staying Healthy and Stress-Free during the Holiday Season!
Shop at the farmers’ market.
Instead of heading to the local supermarket, visit a local farmers’ market, where you can buy fresh, local, seasonal and organic produce, along with other nutritious foods created by farmers and local food artisans. You’ll have a much more enjoyable experience in addition to stocking up on the whole foods you need to have handy. You can also find excellent choices at natural and health food stores if there are no farmers’ markets close by.
Upgrade your family recipes.
Upgrade your favorite family recipes with healthier ingredients. Use nutrient-rich, whole foods that don’t have unnatural fillers and other additives, including seasonal, organic vegetables and fruits, wild-caught seafood, and pasture-raised, organic chicken and meats that come from well-fed, unadulterated, healthy animals. Eating these whole foods will completely nourish your body, make you feel better and ramp up your energy. When you eat these healthier nutrient-dense choices you’ll find you won’t overeat, so it’s much easier to maintain your weight without counting calories. Try my recipe for cinnamon almond butter cookies made without bleached flour and refined white sugar.
Eat a healthy mini meal before attending holiday parties.
When attending holiday parties make sure you eat a healthy mini meal like a vegetable salad before attending so you won’t overeat an abundance of party foods. Once you get there you will be able to enjoy smaller portions of your favorite holiday foods without feeling guilty. You can also bring one of your favorite healthy dishes to share with everyone else. Here’s my recipe for Kale Apple Salad with Pineapple Hemp Dressing.
When shopping, check labels and avoid foods with a long list of ingredients.
The best whole foods have one or just a few unprocessed or minimally processed easily recognized ingredients. Some of the ingredients to avoid: chemicals, artificial sweeteners,refined white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, MSG, genetically modified ingredients and preservatives (indicated by the initials BHT, BHA, EDTA and THBQ). Buying and eating whole foods that your body can recognize and and use for nourishment is the best way to maintain vibrant health.
Set aside a few hours each week to prep foods to eat in the days ahead.
Taking the time to do prep will make cooking healthy foods easy and enjoyable during this busy time of the year along with helping you avoid buying convenience foods with questionable ingredients. Cut up produce and store it in airtight containers. Lightly wash produce before using with natural vegetable wash or use one part white vinegar to three parts water. Make several homemade vinaigrettes or dressings to last all week so you can make leafy greens and vegetable salads in minutes. Clean and marinate enough meat or poultry for dinners over the next few days. Use your slow cooker so dinner will be ready when you get home.
Start your day with a green smoothie.
If you start your day with lots of high quality nutrition you won’t have as much motivation to indulge in foods throughout the day that aren’t so good for you. Green smoothies are hydrating, nutrient-packed and easy to make. Simply cut and freeze organic fresh fruit to use in green smoothies. You can also buy frozen fruit that’s already cut up. Add organic kale, romaine lettuce or spinach, coconut water, organic raw milk or kefir, or nut and seed milks plus natural sweeteners such as dates or stevia for an energy-boosting beverage that will start your day off right. Try this tasty pineapple lime green smoothie.
For your holiday dinners, plan on making dishes that are both delicious and nutritious.
Healthy foods are truly delicious and so good for you! Excellent examples are pasture-raised, wild turkey with sage and garlic, honey glazed roasted chicken, baked wild salmon with lemon and herbs, steamed leafy greens, roasted heirloom root vegetables drizzled with balsamic glaze, baked sweet potatoes topped with coconut oil, cinnamon, and coconut sugar, pureed winter squash soups, and desserts made with seasonal fruits, exotic spices like star anise, and healthy sweeteners like coconut sugar or raw honey.
Take healthy snacks to work.
If you take healthy snacks with you to work, you won’t be tempted to overeat all the holiday treats that are in abundance during this season. Fresh or dried fruit, guacamole with vegetables, nuts, seeds, nut or seed butters, and kale chips are all fantastic options to take with you. If you get a dehydrator you can easily dehydrate fruits and vegetables and raw nuts or seeds that have been soaked in unrefined sea salt water (which removes anti-nutrients, kick-starts the germination process, and increases key vitamins), and you’ll have plenty of on-the-go healthy snacks with a long shelf life. Dehydrators are convenient and easy to use. Here’s my favorite brand.
Make batches of fermented vegetables twice a month.
I recommend that you eat fermented vegetables every day to keep your digestive system healthy. These fantastic vegetables will help keep your digestive system on track during the holidays. Fermented vegetables are loaded with probiotics – the good bacteria your intestines need. Mix a variety of organic vegetables such as carrots and celery into brine with warm filtered water, unrefined sea salt, and cultured vegetable starter or liquid whey, and mix with shredded cabbage heads. Pack the mixture into sterilized glass jars and allow the vegetables to ferment for five to seven days or longer. Once done fermenting, store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Here’s my recipe for fermented purple cabbage and orange sauerkraut andfermented lemon kale and savoy cabbage sauerkraut.
Don‘t forget to exercise and get enough sleep.
It’s easy to put your exercise program on hold and not get enough sleep when you are busy shopping for gifts, planning and attending parties, and doing a million different activities at once. If you try to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night and keep doing your daily exercise routine you will relieve the stress associated with the holidays, keep your cortisol level balanced, as well as burn off any extra calories you may be consuming during this time.
Stay hydrated with purified or spring water, and healthy beverage choices like herbal or green tea, fermented drinks, and herbal coffee. It is easy to get caught up in the holiday cheer and drink more alcoholic beverages than you normally do. But if you make an effort to exercise moderation with your alcohol intake and alternate drinking alcoholic beverages with water, you will maintain alkalinity in your body experiencing better health and less weight gain. For a super healthy beverage choice, try my cinnamon coconut water kefir recipe.
Take time to relax and try to minimize stress.
Finding time to relax and learning how to manage the demands during this busy time will make the holiday season more enjoyable for both you and your family. Try to avoid shopping at overcrowded malls during peak shopping hours, don’t schedule too many parties to attend, find time to experience gratitude daily, do deep breathing exercises, and follow the 12 tips I suggested and you’ll stay healthy and stress-free all holiday season.