In my last newsletter, I talked about supporting immune health and how it's so important to get plenty of sleep, wear a scarf, drink bone broth, manage stress and get acupuncture. By all means, each one of these things is critical to staying healthy, but during the holiday season there's one thing that often gets tossed aside because of the plethora of temptations—eating vegetables and fruits.
We've all been there....another slice of pie, an extra scoop of stuffing, a topper of wine to finish the bottle, one more cookie. In the moment, these choices don't seem so consequential, but enough of these choices over time can make us feel sluggish and ultimately don't revitalize our bodies.
A while ago, I was talking with Mary Ellen Zung, a local health coach, about eating habits and why people make the choices that they do. One thing we agreed upon is that from an early age we're indoctrinated to judge food based on taste—is it yummy/good or yucky/bad. Many people are not taught about whether what they eat makes them feel energized/bright/clear-minded or sluggish/dull/cloudy-minded. Perhaps those concepts are difficult to understand at a young age, but it's never too late to think about food in this regard.
So how is it possible to enjoy the yumminess of the holiday foods while maintaining and optimizing our energy, brightness and clear mindedness?
1. Eat a ton of vegetables. Squeeze in vegetables whenever you can. A wonderful breakfast is soup such as butternut squash and vegetable. Soups are not difficult to make at all and can be made in bulk and frozen in mason jars. I'll pull out a jar from the freezer the night before, and if it's still frozen in the morning, it defrosts and heats up quickly on the stove.
2. Eat more fruit. Smoothies are a great way to enjoy fruit. Also, clementines made a great snack and are easy to pack. I also love pomegranates. I'll put pomegranate seeds in salads, over multigrain/flourless bread with nut butter (it's like a gourmet PB and J...try it!) or I'll even eat a spoonful and let the seeds burst in my mouth with flavor.
3. Offer plant based sides. If you're contributing a side dish to a meal or you're hosting a dinner party, offer several plant based sides. Besides helping you consume more vegetables, your vegetarian/vegan and dietary restricted friends will be very grateful for your options. In a recent newsletter, I shared this recipe for a quinoa bake that is always a huge hit. This recipe calls for cheese and ground meat. Typically, I use a vegan cheese or less cheese in general, and I swap out of the ground meat for vegetables like baby kale, peppers, onions and delicata squash.
4. Reduce indulgences. I get how hard this may be given the leftovers that normally result from holiday gatherings. Don't allow the rich, sugary foods that are a staple of the holidays to become your new lifestyle. Stay focused on eating food that is closer to the earth and less processed.
5. Be kind to yourself. If you struggle with difficult feelings after over indulging, you are not alone by any means. The connection between emotions and eating is often layered and difficult to sort through. And because of the nature of the holidays, many people experience feelings of guilt, shame, anger, etc. with over indulging. If this is you, be kind to yourself and know that you can work through these feelings with the help from a mental health professional. Acupuncture is also a great tool for managing emotions.