Updated: Nov 23, 2022
It’s that wonderful time of the year! You’re spending quality time with family and friends, catching up with those you have missed and eating some pretty fabulous food. The holidays are a time where food is truly so impactful! Certain foods and a house full of aromas can bring you back to many joyful times and special childhood memories. They can fill your heart, soul and belly with warmth and love.
The true purpose of food is to give your body the nutrition it needs to function optimally, mind, body and soul. Nutrition supports detoxification, hormone balance, mental health and clarity, continuous healing, energy, a solid immune system and so much more. Of course, food also plays an important role in personal relationships, culture and especially celebration!
It’s easy to get swept away in the holiday spirit! However, you can celebrate without sabotaging your health. A little bit of mindfulness and planning ahead will keep you from feeling deprived or down-right guilty while having an absolute blast! This healthy holiday nutrition guide will help support you in making the best choices while also enjoying yourself this holiday season.
Tips for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season:
1) First and foremost, be well rested. Lack of sleep is associated with an increased appetite and cravings, especially for sweets and high carb items. If you aren’t well rested, hormone shifts occur. The hunger control hormone, Ghrelin, and the stress hormone, Cortisol, both increase stimulating your appetite and causing you to eat more. If that isn’t enough, Leptin, the appetite suppressing hormone, decreases. Therefore, heading to the party already exhausted is setting yourself up for failure.
2) Don’t skip meals. Try not to hold off until the party. Eating a solid breakfast (and lunch depending on the main event) consisting of quality protein, healthy fats and fiber will keep you fuller longer, support a balanced blood sugar and keep you from overeating later on.
3) Combat stress with nutrition. As we mentioned before, higher cortisol levels increase appetite. Nutrients that will support stress handling include:
B Vitamins (beef, organ meats, poultry, fish/shellfish, avocado, sweet potato, spinach, pasture-raised whole eggs and dairy, mushrooms, asparagus).
Omega 3s (fish, shellfish, avocados, chia/flax/hemp seeds, walnuts).
Magnesium (avocados, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, spinach, almonds, fatty fish).
Protein (fish/shellfish, poultry, beef, venison, organ meats, nuts/seeds/nut butters, beans/hummus)
Vitamin C (broccoli, bell peppers, berries, Brussels, citrus, kiwi).
Zinc (oysters, crab, beef, poultry, pumpkin seeds).
Vitamin D (fish, shellfish, cod liver oil, pasture raised whole eggs, mushrooms, SUN).
Remember, it’s okay to find a little quiet time during the party if needed.
4) Optimize Digestion. Adding a little lemon, lime or unsweetened cranberry juice to your water before meals will support digestion. For those that need a little more support can utilize bitters (ex. Urban Moonshine) or digestive enzymes prior to meals. Relax while you eat, enjoy each and every bite and chew, chew, chew. Lastly, there are many herbal teas that support digestion after meals including ginger, lemon, dandelion root, burdock root, chamomile, and peppermint.
5) Keep your blood sugar balanced. To avoid emotional and energy rollercoaster rides throughout the day, focus on quality proteins, healthy fats and fiber at each meal. These foods will keep your blood sugar steady while keeping cravings and overeating at bay. Always make your first bite protein rich and save the heavier carbs for last. Consider this starting with appetizers:
Proteins: shrimp cocktail, tuna skewers, salmon salad, charcuterie boards, caprese kabobs, hummus and bean dips, deviled eggs, mini meatballs, buffalo chicken dips, roasted chicken wings, liver pate, caviar.
Healthy fats: guacamole or guacamole deviled eggs, olives, seafood and caviar, nuts/seeds and nut butters, cheese, coconut flakes/cream.
Fiber: stuffed mushrooms, bruschetta with gluten free or seeded crackers, fresh stuffed jalapeno peppers, veggie tray with hummus/guacamole, spinach and artichoke dips, prosciutto wrapped asparagus.
6) Avoid grazing by staying away from the buffet table. Enjoy a little somethin’ somethin’, then move on (preferably protein, veggies or healthy fats).
7) Keep your hydration up. Drink half your weight in ounces of water everyday – especially during the holidays! This includes herbal teas and bone broths.
8) Choose your spirits carefully. A glass of wine or a mixed drink with seltzer, club and added fruits/veggies (lemon, lime, orange, berries, cucumber) will always win over sugary mixed drinks. If you choose to drink, support your liver with:
Adequate water intake
Vitamin B Complex (methylated forms)
Detox Amino Acids (taurine, glycine, glutamine, methionine, cysteine)
Vitamin C (1g for 3 days prior to consumption)
Coconut water for electrolytes
Herbal detox teas for the morning (Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox)
9) Control the risk for temptation by bringing your own dish. A holiday meal will usually consist of a protein source like turkey, ham, beef or seafood. However, will there be a veggie? How about a healthier carbohydrate option? Bring some roasted asparagus, creamed spinach, Brussel sprouts and/or a healthy sweet potato mash or cauliflower mashed potato and you’re set. Use quality healthy fats like grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil on heavier carbs to support blood sugar.
10) Slow down during meals. Take your time while eating and savor each bite. Set your utensils down while you chew and wait 10 minutes before going for seconds. Try to eat your fiber from veggies first, followed by protein and healthy fats, then leave heavier carbs for last. This will help with portion control. And, always honor your sense of fullness.
11) Bring your dancing shoes. Or bring the football and take a relaxing walk after dinner.
12) Pick and choose your battles. Choose sweet potatoes over mac-n-cheese. If your enjoying wine, skip the bread. Dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Go in with a mindset: carbs, cake or cocktail?
13) Pay attention to what really matters. Go with the intention of visiting with your loved ones. Celebrate each other, the ending of another year and the beginning of a new one. Make new memories and fabulous stories to tell for years to come.
14) Don’t feel guilty. Even if you did indulge more than you wanted to … drink extra water the next day, catch up on good, quality sleep, do a castor oil pack, drink some coconut water, make the time to exercise and move on.
15) Check out these healthier dessert options!
1) Sticky Toffee Pudding (gluten, vegan)
5) Paleo Apple Pie (gluten free)
6) Paleo Black and Blueberry Pie (gluten, vegan)
Purely Rooted Nutrition and Wellness wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season!