Holiday Healthy is where it’s at!
Tis the season! Over the next few weeks, our schedules are filled with shopping, holiday parties, relatives, financial pressures, obligations, and plenty of food and spirits.
Socializing during the holidays can be stressful and challenging, especially if your friends and family are not as health-conscious as you. The abundance of holiday treats and homemade goodies can be hard to resist. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to avoid holiday weight gain, manage blood sugar, stay holiday healthy, happy and fit, keep from getting sick, and enjoy holiday celebrations without feeling bloated, guilty or stressed out.
Move your body every day to relieve stress, regulate appetite, stabilize blood sugar and insulin, increase circulation and metabolism, and boost your mood. Rev up your metabolism with just 20-30 minutes a day with the metabolic strength training workout found in my book, Fat Loss Revolution. If you’re short on time, try the Sprint 8 workout or the 10-5-5 Workout. Both of these workouts take less than 30 minutes.
Move your body when you can—take a bike ride, walk your dog, join a fitness class, practice some stress-relieving yoga, hike with friends, get up and stretch or hire a strength coach/fitness expert. Take a walk after mealtime to support digestion, move your body and boost metabolism. Plus, you’ll get a natural dose of vitamin D from the sunlight.
Don’t skimp on sleep. Prioritize 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night. Consistently sleeping less than 7 hours per night disrupts hormones, increases desire for processed foods with zero nutritional value, and could be the reason you’re stressed out, feeling blue, depressed or anxious, or unable to drop stubborn belly fat. Research shows that those who fail to get enough restful sleep consume more calories, especially from unhealthy foods.
Practice holiday self-care. Light some candles and soak in the tub: add Epsom salts, baking soda, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (sandalwood, rose, lavender or frankincense). Schedule a massage. Take time to meditate upon rising and before bedtime, even if it’s only 5 minutes. Get outdoors in the sunlight. Go for a walk.
Holiday healthy menu and eating. Stay on track with your healthy lifestyle through the holidays. Utilize the “PVFC method” found in Fat Loss Revolution when planning your meals and prioritize protein (P), colorful plants, leafy greens and veggies (V), and healthy fat (F). Minimize intake of sweets, treats and processed carbs (C). Consume protein, fat, root veggies, and plant-rich, nutrient-dense green veggie-rich meals to increase satiation and fullness, boost energy, stabilize blood glucose, fuel brain chemistry, help burn fat and keep you from getting sick.
Avoid processed carbs, sugary snacks and sodas full of empty calories and void of any nutritional value whatsoever. Sure you’ll get a quick burst of energy, but at the expense of creating an insulin spike, zapped energy, intensified sugar craving, suppressing your immune system, and additional inches to your waistline.
Avoid becoming famished when you’re away from home shopping or running errands to avoid holiday overindulgence and blood sugar fluctuations. Prepare ahead and pack healthy snacks in your purse or glove compartment that you can easily grab (protein shake, nuts, apples, celery and almond butter, hard boiled eggs, avocado, or beef, bison or turkey jerky).
Pass on the white chocolate peppermint mocha with whip cream, which is full of artificial sweeteners, sugars and a whopping 700 calories! Instead, opt for organic coffee. Add a bit of organic heavy whipping cream, butter or MCT oil or coconut oil, and a pinch of cinnamon for a holiday flavor. Sip on some yerba mate or green tea to increase mental alertness and energy without the jitters. The ECGC in green tea can boost fat burning.
Party time. Before the party, snack on some organic jerky, a collagen protein shake, a handful of nuts or seeds, or sip a cup of bone broth or organic green tea. If you’re going to a party where healthy options will be limited, plan ahead and bring a healthy dish of your own for all to enjoy.
Stay hydrated. Even though the temps are cooler, it’s important to drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Staying hydrated is especially important if you’re going to enjoy some holiday cheer.
Alcohol. I’m all for socializing and enjoying a glass of wine or two. If your goal is to look good and feel your best, excessive alcohol consumption tends to accumulate in the midsection contributing to excess belly fat, disrupts sleep, alters hormones, increases estrogen and insulin, reduces testosterone and growth hormone, and lowers inhibitions and judgment, which increases risk of overindulgence in goodies you normally wouldn’t eat.
If you’re going to indulge in a few holiday cocktails, eat a protein-rich, fiber-filled snack beforehand. Opt for a glass of Pinor Noir, rich in resveratrol or cocktails made from fresh ingredients. Consider supplementation with B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) beforehand. Beware of drinks such as white Russians or mudslide mixes that are full of sugar and contain up to 500-800 insulin-spiking, fat-storing, hormone-disrupting calories per drink.
Drink plenty of filtered water between each cocktail to prevent dehydration. Doing so will accomplish the social goal of having a glass in your hand while cutting down on the empty calories and the hangover! Never take Tylenol after drinking alcohol. It’s a deadly combo for your liver and your kidneys.
Holiday gatherings. Set healthy boundaries, find peace within, and honor yourself. Minimize the time you spend with people, places or things that deplete your energy.
Hangover helpers: Support and love your liver. Replenish your body with B-vitamins, magnesium, calcium d glucarate, milk thistle, alpha lipoic acid, NAC, vitamin C, turmeric (curcumin), ginger, organic sources of protein, electrolytes, lemon and lime water, and more water!
Cooking and baking tips. The holiday season is filled with sugar-filled treats and gluten-containing foods that can cause digestive distress and are a detriment to your mood and your waistline. Parties can be challenging for people who are gluten intolerant, have food sensitivities or those who choose to avoid grains and excess sugar. And, just because an item is gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Many gluten-free items contain rice flour, tapioca starch, and the like, which spike insulin and cause drastic blood sugar fluctuations. Re-create many of your favorite recipes with a variety of healthier options.
|Instead of:||Replace with:|
|Vegetable oils||Organic apple sauce, pureed prunes, real butter, avocado or coconut oil|
|White or wheat flour||Coconut flour, almond meal, hazelnut flour, cassava
|Margarine||Organic, pastured, grass-fed butter or ghee
Paula’s Gluten-free holiday healthy cookie recipe. Here’s a healthier gluten-free cookie recipe for those of you who enjoy baking during the holiday season and love cookies.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly. Take a small amount of dough into your hand and place a chunk of dark chocolate in the middle of each cookie. Form into a ball shape and place onto baking sheet. Sprinkle chunky sea salt on cookies before baking. Bake at 375° for approximately 10 – 12 minutes until set, not brown. Cool and enjoy! These won’t last long. Yum!
Make a difference. Most of us have enough “stuff.” Practice mindful giving with gifts from the heart, and gifts that have a special meaning behind them. Remember those who are suffering, alone and truly in need. Give the gift of your time or service. Donate to your favorite charity, shelter or non-profit organization. Teach your children the real reason for the season. Purchase groceries or gifts for a friend or family in need. Deliver a meal or some homemade chicken soup to an elderly neighbor or a sick friend. Invite an elderly or single person who is alone to join you for holiday festivities and church. Go through your garage and closets, and gather all of the items you no longer wear or use, and donate them to those less fortunate.
Allow yourself to eat, drink and be holiday healthy without pressure, guilt or feelings of remorse. Remember, it’s what you do consistently on a daily basis that matters most.
Wishing you lots of love, blessings galore and a peaceful, happy, healthy holiday season!