It’s no surprise this 2020 holiday season is going to be a strange one. We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, and that means it’s more important than ever to prioritize our health. Though we likely aren’t attending the same holiday parties, family get-togethers, and other holiday events that we normally do, there are still many ways we can embrace the holiday season in a healthy, nourishing way. Here are 10 ways to stay healthy this holiday season (and a healthy holiday cookie recipe!):
1. Nourish yourself with healthy food: This time of year is typically when most people throw their health goals out the window and indulge on unhealthy foods packed with processed ingredients, refined sugars, unhealthy fats. Though balance is important and we should certainly not deprive ourselves, there are still ways to ensure we’re nourishing ourselves. Focus on the healthy foods you can add in to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and your brain the building blocks it needs to stay resilient in the face of stress & anxiety that often arises this time of year.
2. Focus on fiber: Fiber is incredibly important for our gut health, balancing blood sugar levels, decreasing cholesterol, helping us detox, and keeping us regular. Fiber also helps us maintain a healthy weight because it fills us up and helps prevent us from overeating, and feeds our gut microbiome, which plays an important role in our mental health. Ensure you’re eating at least 30 grams of fiber/day, especially when you’re eating higher-sugar meals to help blunt the rise in blood glucose levels. Sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
3. Protein, protein, protein: Healthy sources of protein provide us with the amino acids that help us maintain lean muscle mass and burn fat, keep us satiated, and help balance our blood sugar levels. Ensure you’re eating a quality source of protein at every meal to help keep your hormones balanced, avoid overeating, and ensure you’re giving your brain the nutrients it needs to function properly and manage any stress or anxiety that might arise this time of year. Healthy sources of protein include wild fish, 100% grass-fed beef & bison, pasture-raised eggs & poultry, organic tofu & tempeh, nuts & seeds, and legumes.
4. Embrace the fat: Ensuring you’re eating adequate healthy fat sources is crucial to maintain the health of every cell in your body! The majority of our brain is also made up of fat, so supplying adequate fat helps us maintain brain function, gives us more resilience to stress & anxiety, and ensures our mood stays balanced. Healthy fat is also important for gut health, balancing hormones, and balancing blood glucose levels. Healthy fat sources are extra virgin olive oil, fatty wild fish, nuts & seeds, avocado, avocado oil, olives, and moderate amounts of grass-fed organic butter, ghee, and virgin coconut oil.
5. Healthy swaps: Find healthier alternatives to the holiday treats you love! There are many ways to make the special holiday food you love healthier - examples include swapping out refined sugar in your favorite holiday baked goods for maple syrup or honey and adding in some extra fiber such a ground flax seed, or lowering the refined carbohydrate content of your favorite holiday pie by making the crust out of almond flour instead of white flour. You can also make sure you’re using healthy cooking oils instead of inflammatory vegetable oils in your cooking and baking. Check out the recipe below for healthy Chewy Gingerbread Cookies!
6. Sleep: High-quality sleep and sleeping enough hours every night (aim for at least 8 hours if you can!) is one of the healthiest things we can do for our body. Help optimize your circadian by going to bed at the same time every night, and waking at the same time every morning. Practice sleep hygiene by turning off electronics at least an hour before bedtime, making sure your bedroom is totally dark, keeping your bedroom cool (around 65-67 degrees), and making sure your phone is out of your bedroom or turning it to airplane mode to reduce EMFs.
7. Hydrate: When the weather starts to get cool many people forget to drink enough liquids. Ensure you’re hydrating throughout the day, especially if you’re feeling lethargic or having trouble concentrating. Warm water with lemon and herbal teas are wonderful for this, as is bone broth for some extra nutrition!
8. Get social: Even though we may be physically separated from our loved ones, it’s important to lean on our social support systems. Call a friend, facetime with loved ones, or go for a socially distanced walk outdoors with friends.
9. Move your body: This is especially important this time of year, when it’s so easy to just curl up on the couch and not move for hours on end! Moving your body helps move blood and lymph through your body to help your immune system stay strong and healthy. Exercise also helps immensely with mood, stress-reduction, and anxiety, as well as helping us maintain lean body mass. Schedule walk breaks into your day, try a new online workout, or treat yourself to a yoga or pilates class online. Even better, have an accountability buddy you do workouts with so you both help each other stay on track!
10. Have some grace with yourself: I can’t emphasize this enough! It’s so important to enjoy your food, and even though some food you eat this holiday season might not be healthy, that does NOT mean that you should beat yourself up for eating it! Balance is important, and we need to have some grace with ourselves. It’s been a stressful year, and giving yourself a break and focusing on self-love compassion is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.
Looking for the perfect give for a loved one this holiday season? Give the gift of health with a gift card for nutrition services with me, available here! This gift card can be used towards Grace Functional Nutrition consultations, customized meal plans, or workshops.
Healthy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe:
1 cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbs coconut oil (melted)
1 egg (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup maple syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, ginger, and cinnamon. Mix well using a fork to break up any clumps. Add in the coconut oil, egg, vanilla, molasses and maple syrup. Mix again.
3. Roll the dough into even balls and place on the baking sheet. Gently flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Enjoy!
Wishing you all a healthy and happy holiday season! Please feel free to reach out if I can support you in any way.