The holidays are upon us. Don’t you love the holidays? I know I do.
It’s my favorite time of year. I enjoy a big feast, complete with pumpkin pie and an extravagant turkey, with the family during Thanksgiving. We do it all again a few weeks later when we celebrate Christmas. It’s truly a magical time of the year. Everyone is laughing, and we all seem to have that twinkle in our eyes—like anything is possible.
That is probably why we eat whatever we want. People generally ignore their health during the holidays, and think they are invincible. One thing I always notice is that it is very stressful to prepare for that one big meal. And by the end of it all, you have no energy left. You just want to relax, and you’ve tipped the scale.
Sound familiar? Most articles I read around the holidays seem to focus on weight loss, stress, and exercise. They will tell you to eat less and exercise more to reduce stress. There is some truth to that, but I know you’ve probably heard it all before.
The following health tips, however, are a little bit different. You see, I believe that with a few dietary and lifestyle tweaks, you can easily enjoy the holidays without the stress or the annual weight gain.
So without further ado, here are some effective holiday tips that have improved my health during this hectic time.
Take Care of Digestion
The Problem: The holidays are a digestion nightmare. The consumption of large meals and fried foods are known to wreak havoc on your digestive system, which can lead to diarrhea, bloating, gas, and heartburn. Also, the lack of fiber within holiday meals often leads to constipation. A lot of people believe overeating will lead to those extra pounds, but the truth is that it leads to a whole lot more. Eating large meals can actually cause your digestive system some hardship, which leads to a backlog within your liver.
The Solution: Luckily, the right food combinations will ease your digestive system.
- Avoid eating proteins with carbohydrates or fats and oils.
- Eating vegetables with either proteins or carbs is known to be better for your digestive system.
Are you also frustrated from holiday heartburn? You likely have an underactive stomach, and antacids will make your condition worse. Betaine HCl, digestive enzymes, pysllium husks, probiotics, and apple cider vinegar are effective ways to improve your holiday digestion problems without making it a bigger problem.
The Problem: Almost everyone experiences some stress during the holidays. Chronic stress is the main reason for adrenal fatigue, and your body is probably craving key nutrients, such as vitamins E, C, B5, and B12, choline, and potassium. Your lack of sleep and a poor diet can also lead to underactive adrenals.
The Solution: It is a good idea to think about your lifestyle during the holidays.
- Consider more rest, exercise, and meditation—you may be busy, but these are priorities you need to incorporate into your schedule.
- Adrenal support supplements can also help you combat stress.
Most adrenal formulas contain adaptogens, which help the body maintain a state of balance.
- Siberian ginseng, and licorice are common herbal adaptogens you may consider.
The Problem: The winter and lack of sunlight can compromise your immune system. I know they can be hard to resist, but alcohol, sugar, and processed junk foods can deplete nutrients in the body and negatively affect your immune system. A weak immune system can make you more susceptible to viruses, and the last thing you want to have to deal with during the holidays is sickness.
The Solution: Important nutrients for immunity are selenium, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Vitamin D is also crucial for a healthy immune system.
- Vitamin D is hard to obtain from food, so your best source of this vitamin is more sunlight or supplements.
In a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics in 2012, vitamin D supplementation was found to lower the risk of respiratory tract infections. The analysis included five clinical trials with therapeutic doses ranging from 400 IU to 2,000 IU daily.
- Oil of oregano
- Garlic capsules are antibacterial and antimicrobial herbal supplements that also support the immune system.
Eat Mostly Nutrient-Dense Foods
The Problem: Family and social gatherings will doubtlessly bring opportunities to concede to your sweet tooth. It is normal to enjoy your holidays with some treats, but I advise not to go overboard. For many, too many sweets is the cause of weight gain over the holidays.
The Solution: The consumption of mostly vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods will naturally lead to weight loss. A nutrient-dense holiday feast will combat issues with stress, digestion, and lowered immunity as well.
Some healthy foods I suggest including in your holiday meal are:
- Collard greens and Brussels sprouts, which are high in fiber and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Charan, J., et al., “Vitamin D for prevention of respiratory tract infections: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics October 2012; 3(4): 300–303, doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.103685.
Rowland, D., Digestion: Inner Pathway to Health (Parry Sound: Rowland Publications, 2013), 29–32.