Is it just me, or does it seem like as soon as November hits, we start to gain weight, get colds and flus, fatigue, headaches, mood swings etc? We are so accustomed to go-go-go during the months preceding the holidays that our self-care and health go right out the door.
The Holidays are naturally a time of higher sugar consumption, unhealthy foods we wouldn’t normally eat otherwise, alcohol (for some people) and a lot of stress, so this is the MOST critical time where we should be focusing on our HEALTH and boosting our immune system to handle the holiday stressors rather than neglecting our health.
Below are a few tips and recipes I like to include in my daily routine during the months preceding the holidays and well into the New Year to ensure proper immune function, maintain weight during the holidays, reduce stress and ENJOY the time with our family and friends without thinking about all the work we have to do to prepare and without feeling too tired to enjoy the holiday season when it arrives.
1. Start off your morning and end your evening with 2 cups of hot water mixed with the juice of half an organic lemon. This will help to detox your body of toxins produced from stress, sugar, and chemicals! It will also improve digestion and give our body plenty of enzymes to digest the food we will be eating later that day. It gives our immune system a good dose of vitamin C to help fight off the cold and flu and it hydrates our body as well! I find we tend to forget to drink fluids when we are in a rush and we also tend to drink sodas, juice, coffee, and alcohol instead of water during the Holiday season which leaves our body in an acidic state and we become very dehydrated very quickly. Below is my FAVOURITE detox recipe that I like to make every morning to start my day off on a good note!
- 2 cups hot water (stimulate digestion)
- ½ inch piece of fresh ginger (aid digestion)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (boost metabolism)
- Juice from half an organic lemon (Vitamin C to boost immunity, enzymes)
- ½ tbs Apple Cider Vinegar (Ensure optimal Intestinal pH)
- 1 tsp yacon syrup to sweeten(optional: Prebiotic, sugar-free syrup)
*mix all ingredients together and ENJOY!*
2. Drink at least 1 green smoothie/juice per day to help alkalize the body and reduce inflammation and counteract the acidifying effects of stress and unhealthy foods. You can go wild with vegetables and a small amount of fruits to make it taste the way you like! Juices/smoothies are the PERFECT way to flood your body with natural raw plant enzymes plenty of vitamins and minerals to nourish and alkalize the body. I don’t own a juicer, so I actually blend all the veggies and fruits together which also gives you plenty of fiber to help detox the colon! But if you like juicing, go wild and create any combo you like! Aim for in-season fruits and vegetables if possible! Below is my recipe for the ultimate Green juice!
- 1 handful of organic kale
- 1 beet (or ¼ cup beet juice for smoothies)
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 large organic carrot
- 1 pickling cucumber
- A small piece of fresh ginger
- 1 small piece of fresh turmeric
- Splash of coconut water!
*Blend or juice all ingredients together and drink immediately!*
3. Take soil-based probiotics (25-50 billion) daily during this time to support your immune system, support digestion and help to fight off colds and flu, and also protect us germs we may encounter while touching shopping mall doors, public restrooms, etc! I love a combo of Bacillus coagulens, Bacillus clausii, Sacchromyces Boulardii, lactobacillus acidophillus, and Bifidiobacterum strains. Aim for a probiotic that has multiple strains, minimum 25 billion CFU potency, enteric coating to ensure survivability and preferably one that contains non-hydrolyzed prebiotics!
4. Take Pancreatic digestive enzymes with all meals to break down the food we eat and aid digestion when we are stressed/rushed and eating in a hurry. Pancreatic enzymes will help to support our liver, pancreas, and gallbladder to break down the carbs and fats we eat (which tend to be higher during the holidays!). I always advise to try and slow down and avoid eating while driving, when upset, or when rushed, since that hinders digestion and strains our liver and pancreas to secrete more enzymes for partially digested food. Supplying our body with extra enzymes will go a long way toward supporting our digestive system and reducing the holiday bloat!
5. If you plan on eating a larger and maybe not-so-healthy meal later in the day, try to Intermittent fast (so long as you don’t have hypoglycemia or diabetes) which will help your body burn your fat as fuel. This will help to maintain weight during the holidays and also ensure you don’t over consume calories for that day! Intermittent fasting tends to suppress your appetite so you don’t overeat and also helps to give your digestive system a chance to “clean house” and detoxify/repair. An example of a time frame for fasting would be to stop eating at 7 pm the night before and resume eating the next day between 9 and 11 AM. This will give your body 14-16 hours free from digesting food. When your body needs energy, it will look to your fat stores for fuel which helps lead to weight-loss. Of course, talk to your doctor before trying this out!
6. Try shopping online for gifts or decorations, table settings, etc to avoid the large crowds, heavy traffic, searching for hours for a parking spot and long checkout line. This is a big stress trigger for most people and it is so easy to avoid in this day and age with our easy access to next day shipping thanks to Amazon prime! You can stay in the comfort of your own home, or in your office and have everything delivered to your door. Who doesn’t want that!
7. Last but not least, ENJOY the holidays! Try to not stress about the “unhealthy foods” you’re going to eat, all the people you have to shop for, all the cleaning you need to do in your house, all the food you have to cook, etc. If you are going to eat unhealthy food, enjoy it and don’t feel guilty! If your house isn’t PERFECTLY clean, don’t worry, no one will notice. If you are overwhelmed with all the people you need to buy presents for, try cutting back the list and shopping for only the most important, or suggest secret Santa instead! And remember what the holidays are really about – Thanksgiving, family, love, and laughter!
Written by: Marla Pietruszko BSc RHN