Health for the Holidays: Top Tips to Keep Your Health on Track
21 Dec 2018
The holiday season is upon us and very soon we will be enjoying Christmas festivities with family and friends. Attending holiday parties, eating big turkey dinners, baking delicious desserts, and drinking lots of eggnog are just a few of many wonderful ways to celebrate the end of 2018. As we prepare for this exciting time of year, let’s take this opportunity maintain our health as well as It’s an easy part of our lives to put on the back burner. In fact, good health is commonly a New Year’s resolution. This year, instead of waiting until January to get back on the wagon, make sure you never fall off by implementing some easy practices into your routine. Believe it or not, it’s easier than it sounds and you can use this survival guide to help along the way.
Tips for Eating
We all indulge a little over the holidays, especially in food – it’s one of the best parts of the holidays. What I suggest is being aware of how you can balance out eating fattening, albeit delicious, foods with healthy practices and supplements. So…. yes, indulge. But be smart about it!
- Aim for 2-2.5 Liters a day of filtered water. Of course water is important day-to-day, but during this season it is even more crucial since you are allowing lots of foods into your diet. Water helps to break down and digest meals so the body can absorb necessary nutrients and soften stool to prevent constipation. It also Staying hydrated is important for maintaining glowing skin and preventing headaches.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Start your day with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a tall glass of warm water. This boosts digestion and encourages liver function (great for past or upcoming indulging).
- Digestive Enzymes. Are there certain foods you react badly to that you will likely eat anyway over the holiday? I can relate. The best way to tackle this is to know which foods you are sensitive to and research natural digestive enzymes (NDEs, for short) that will to help you digest and reduce a reaction. For instance, NDEs like lipase, amylase and protease help to break down fat, carbohydrates and protein and can be found in a variety of supplements.
- Okay, this might be unrealistic, I get it. But if you can moderate intake of rich foods and sweets, your body will thank you later. Plus, isn’t everything better in moderation anyway? 😉
- The worst thing you can do after a big meal is crash on the couch. Going for a walk will help with circulation to the digestive tract, improve digestion overall and prevent bloating and other discomforts.
Tips for Alcohol Consumption:
- It’s important to understand the health risks associated with consuming alcohol. And if you are going to indulge in alcohol over the break, moderation is important – but you probably already knew that.
- Low-Sugar Drinks. This one is pretty straight forward. Sugary drinks can cause a killer hangover because like alcohol, sugar is also processed through the liver and causes dehydration. So choose drinks with plain soda instead of juice or pop and avoid energy drinks entirely. In addition to excessive quantities of sugar, energy drinks contain an average of 80mg of caffeine. Studies have linked these energy boosters to increased blood pressure, weight gain, dental decay, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and digestive upset. So, I suggest cutting them out completely and choosing a naturally sweetened soda instead.
- Avoid Dark Rum. Well, avoid any dark liquor, really. These alcohols contain congeners, which can aggravate hangovers. So, stick to vodka and other clear alcohols as they are much easier for your liver to break down.
- Non-Alcoholic Drinks. Rotate between alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic. This helps slow down your alcohol consumption and will keep you hydrated, preventing (or lessening) hangovers.
- Suggestions: Water, Perrier, Zevia, non-alcoholic beer, water or make a mocktail.
- Alcohol consumption diminishes sleep quality, so rest up beforehand to ease this effect and be sure to catch up on lost ZZZs afterwards as well.
- B Complex. Get a boost by taking a B complex supplement before and after consuming alcohol to replenish the depletion caused by boozy beverages.
- Other Supplements. Consider a liver support supplement or tea that contains milk thistle to help your liver recover and bounce back. Taking liver support during alcohol consumption may also increase your tolerance so be mindful of this.
Detoxification of Food & Alcohol:
If you find yourself struggling with a hangover or generally feeling sluggish and sleepy from lots of eating, encouraging detoxification by the liver will help lift the fog and get you back to feeling energized!
- Ginger root.
- If you are feeling nauseous or bloated, ginger root will be your best friend. Not only does it help get digestion moving, but it also eases an upset stomach almost immediately. You can take this fresh and straight up like a champ, or you can steep it in your tea.
- Use a Castor Oil Pack. Use a castor oil pack to increase circulation and improve detoxification. Here’s how:
- I recommend wearing an old tshirt because castor oil stains
- Soak a piece of flannel or cotton in cold-pressed organic castor oil
- Remove excess oil and lay the cloth over your liver (on the right side of your abdomen, it’s under the lower ribs)
- Cover with tshirt and apply heating pad or hot water bottle
- Then relax and enjoy a Netflix Holiday movie for 30-40 minutes
- Coconut Water. I’m telling you, this stuff is magic. It’s a great source of hydration and electrolytes without all of the artificial ingredients found in sports drinks.
- Eat Protein. Adding protein to your diet will help to balance blood sugar and encourages liver detoxification.
- Eat Cruciferous Vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are high in D-glucarate, which will help your liver recover from being overburdened and support phase II of detoxification, i.e., clear toxins from your system.
- Drink Green Tea. Green tea is FULL of antioxidants and nutrients. It also contains L-theanine which helps support the liver. So curl up on your couch and drink a big cup of this instead of coffee.
Pencil in Exercise.
Do your best not to ditch your exercise routine. As with the rest of the year, schedule activities into your days and make time for them. Exercise will give you a break from holiday chaos and help your body handle the changes to your eating, drinking and stress. If you want a break from the gym or your regular classes, go skating or walk in the park!
Stress tends to run high over the holidays. Family homes are often chaotic and schedules can easily fill up with daily activities and events so actually taking a break doesn’t always happen. Book in some personal time to practice mindfulness. Not only is it important for strengthening characteristics like gratitude and positive self-awareness, but it is overall conducive to mental and physical health.
- How to use mindfulness over the holidays:
- If you are new to meditation, there are many apps that provide guided meditations, whether you are going to sleep at night, taking a nap, walking in the park, or looking for 5-15 minutes of quiet.
- Prayer or spirituality practice
- Creative activities like decorating, baking and cooking (provided you engage in the moment and allow stress slip away).
From these tips you can see that keeping health in mind does not necessarily mean avoid having fun and enjoying your time off to the fullest. In fact, many of these tips show how you can do both. As much as “taking a break” sounds relaxing in theory, however oftentimes this results the neglect of health. And this can be problematic. For some, it may be manageable to return to a healthy mindset on January 1st. But for many, it can be difficult. Not only does it make the end of December hard to accept, but it also promotes a negative mindset for the start of the year. Taking care of your body is crucial for a healthy mind. So, go into the holidays with a consideration and awareness of what your body needs!
By: Dr. Alaina Gair, ND
Image: Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash