Nutrition

How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

 It is possible to enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your health.

It is possible to enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your health.

‘Tis the season… for cookies, cocktails and home-cooking delights. The holidays are many things— inherently healthy is not one of them. The average American adult consumes a whopping 22 teaspoons of added sugars each day — pretty far off from the recommended 6 for women and 9 for men. It is the opinion of many healthcare professionals that even the recommended number of teaspoons is too high. If that’s the national average throughout the year, imagine how much it peaks during the holidays!

Instead of demonizing sugars and unhealthy foods, let’s keep them in perspective. It’s OK to have one of grandma’s famous Christmas cookies or toast champagne on the stroke of midnight— but the holidays shouldn’t just be about comfort eating and drinking. Focus on what truly matters to you. Is it being together with family, friends, or pets? Or is it about relaxing and taking a few well deserved days off work?

Remember to find ways to manage your stress around the holidays and follow these five tips to stay healthy.

1. Make greens and proteins a priority.

Between holiday office parties, ugly Christmas sweater parties and family dinners, there’s going to be many holiday foods (I’m looking at you mashed potatoes) that are delicious but have very little nutritional bang for your bite. Do yourself a favor during the day and load up on leafy greens, vegetables and clean proteins. That way, you’ve given your body nourishment, fiber and protein to keep your blood sugar stable and appetite in check. Scared of getting sick? Double up on your greens and ask us about herbs and supplements.

2. Feasting in the evening? Don’t show up starving.

The hungrier you are and the lower your blood sugar, the more disappointing hors d’oeuvres you’re going to eat. Eat normally during the day incorporating healthy fats to improve your satiety. Then, show up to your feast slightly peckish. Instead of overeating, load your plate with a variety of samples from each dish you love, instead of large entrees-sized portions. That way you get the experience of the fun holiday foods, without a massive commitment to them.

3. Carve out time for your workouts.

Fail to plan or plan to fail when it comes to exercise. The holidays are the most stressful and busy time of year so give yourself permission to go easy on yourself. Just showing up is half the battle. Schedule times before work, or on morning weekends to go to a class, do some cardio or weight lifting. Be realistic about how much sleep you need or how tired you are after work. Find three to five times in the week you can go and commit.

4. Get creative about replacements.

Don’t be afraid to start new traditions! Experiment in the kitchen with added sugar-free sweeteners, healthier ingredients and nutritious spins on traditional dishes. There are so many ways to recreate your favorite comfort foods and desserts while slashing their calories in half, drastically reducing sugars or replacing unhealthy ingredients with healthier ones. Start Googling recipes and stocking up on ingredients. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes — it’s the thought that counts.

5. Play the tape forward.

Savor the sweets and rich foods while you eat them. Remember to chew, taste and really be in the moment. So many times we inhale what’s on our plates without really taking time to enjoy the experience. When we savor our food, it lasts longer and so does the enjoyment. But if you find yourself wanting more and more, play the tape forward. After your fifth cookie, how are you going to feel? One minute after eating it? Ten? Twenty? One hour? Tomorrow? You already know how it tastes and you can always have more later. Sometimes thinking ahead to how it will make us feel brings us back to the moment. Get up, take a walk or clear the table and make a hot cup of tea.

Follow these tips and this holiday season and I guarantee that you’ll wake up in the new year relieved you put your health first. Have a happy holiday season and healthy New Year!


5 Unexpected Ways to Take Care of your Gut

 Try buying (or making your own) non-toxic household cleaners.

Try buying (or making your own) non-toxic household cleaners.

 

5 Unexpected Ways to Take Care of your Gut

by Zach Moyer, Health Coach and Wellness Coordinator

A healthy gut is the foundation to a healthy life. Over the last few years, research into the field of the gut micro biome has exploded and developing research is showing correlations between gut health, auto-immune disorders, obesity, mental health— just to name a few.

On a more intuitive level, we know that we are what we eat. When we eat real, whole foods we nourish our gut and beneficial bacteria flourish. This allows for healthy digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals.

From time to time, we intentionally do harm to our good bacteria. After a night or drinking or junk food, we may feel bloated or heavy in our intestinal regions. Our bodies are able to bounce back, but we shouldn’t create any more unintentional disturbances to our gut than absolutely necessary. Here are six unexpected ways you can take care of your gut:

1. Stop using toxic chemical cleaners. — Believe it or not, what you clean your house with, can and does make it into your body! Super toxic all purpose cleaners, for example, when used on your counters can very quickly make its way into your food… and then your gut! Toxic chemicals kill and destroy beneficial bacteria in your gut. This applies to chemicals used to treat produce as well— make sure you’re washing fruits and vegetables with clean water.

2. Don’t swallow your mouthwash! — No one intentionally swallows their mouthwash… but sometimes it can linger and we may unintentionally swallow some. If you use intense or harsh mouthwashes, it can harm your gut biome unnecessary. Opt for natural mouthwashes that aren’t poisonous if you ingest some accidentally.

3. Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily. — Western medicine is amazing— thank goodness for the advances in science that allow us to live longer and better! Antibiotics are part of this, when our bodies have bacterial infections, this medication allows us to heal when in the past it was not possible. Work with your doctor and make sure that you are not taking antibiotics for illness that is unrelated to bacterial infections. Next time you have a cold, don’t take your extra pills you have from the last time you have strep. Have the flu? It’s viral- not bacterial and an antibiotic won’t help. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria, including beneficial bacteria in your gut. When taken unnecessarily, we kill off the population of essential bacteria, harming our gut heath.

4. Say no to non-organic animal products. — If meat, eggs and dairy are part of your diet, then take extra care to eat USDA Organic products. Key words like pasture raised, free-range, cage-free, grass fed, humanely-raised, vegetarian-fed, antibiotic-free are marketing labels. Conventional animal products are often treated with antibiotics which make their way into the meat, eggs and dairy we eat. This unintentionally causes harm to our gut. When you eat foods with the USDA Organic label, you are opting for animals that were not treated with antibiotics and were raised within acceptable, natural standards. Is it a perfect system? No. But is it better than the alternative— oh yeah.

5. Probably just skip the probiotic yogurts. — It’s true, many yogurt products you see at the grocery store or your friendly frozen yogurt self-serve shop probably do have lots of probiotic cultures. But make sure you look at the ingredients. If the product is riddled with added sugars, any benefit of the probiotic cultures is destroyed. Opt for no-added sugar yogurts naturally lightly sweetened with fruit, honey or stevia instead. There are tons of natural, fermented foods that offer a host of beneficial probiotics you can eat, including probiotic capsules.

At Deep Roots Natural Medicine we’re holistically treating the roots of your health concerns. If you’re feeling driven towards improving your gut health, schedule a consultation with us today! You can never go wrong trusting your gut!