7 Tips for feeling your best this Christmas Season
Christmas season is upon us! It can be a wonderful time of the year, but it can also be overwhelming, what with travel, family gatherings, gift shopping, holiday parties, and more. It can all take a toll on the way we feel.
Clients often tell me that while the holidays bring them joy, they can also bring bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, cramps, or worse. That’s why I want to share the latest food-related research, a few top tips and some easy recipes to help you feel your best over the holidays. Being aware of how food makes us feel and how to avoid food-borne illnesses could be the first step to having a symptom-free holiday this year. And that’s what I’m wishing for you this holiday, along with peace and goodwill to all!
Be Food-Wise to Feel Your Holiday Best
According to studies from the CDC, The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), and many others, more than half of holiday travelers report health problems, with stomach troubles topping the list. Just by touching the escalator handrails at the airport or handling your shoes at security, for example, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth, you can pick up a virus or bacteria.
That’s why health practitioners recommend Tip #1: Frequent hand-washing during the holiday season – especially when traveling, and always before eating or preparing a meal. Alcohol-based wipes and hand-sanitizers are also helpful (make sure yours contains at least 60% alcohol). Still, hand-washing with warm water and soap is a better choice for reducing the risk of viruses such as norovirus ((stomach flu) and bacteria, which cause about 80 percent of tummy upset. To get more information about the norovirus check out this article https://draxe.com/how-to-get-rid-of-the-stomach-flu
One reason why stomach upset is so prevalent during holiday meals is due to preparation – either the people preparing the food did not cook it long enough; left it out too long, or did not take care in fully sanitizing their hands or cooking tools. Did you know that health inspectors recommend washing your hands for as long as it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” in order to fully sanitize them? See the recipes below for holiday foods that help avoid the risk of food-borne illnesses.
Tip #2: Have a plan. Before heading to holiday gatherings, take some time to set an intention about what you want to eat, what you don’t want to eat, and how you want to feel after. Otherwise, you leave yourself open to “winging it” – which can often lead to regret. Setting an intention and creating awareness for yourself can help you feel prepared and in control. So take the time to think this through before the festivities begin. (Making a plan by yourself isn’t always easy. Need support? Let’s create a holiday plan together, tailored to your concerns, preferences and your goals!)
Tip #3: Check in with yourself during holiday meals and ask yourself if you’re still hungry or almost full. Overeating is the leading cause of heartburn or acid reflux. That’s because too much food in your stomach stresses your esophageal sphincter -- the muscle that keeps food and digestive acids from backing up. Acid reflux can cause burning in your throat and pain in your chest.
Overeating can also cause excessive gas to build up in your colon, slowing down your digestive system and causing bloating, flatulence, stomachache, and/or constipation. Before you fill your plate at the holidays, take a visual inventory of all the foods available and remember your plan (see Tip #2).
Tip #4: Chew your food. Digestion begins in the mouth. Are you talking and eating at the same time? Or are you taking your time and chewing your food? As you chew your food, digestive enzymes in your saliva begin to break down the food, making it easier for you to absorb the nutrients. It’s important to chew your food thoroughly to achieve maximum absorption of the nutrients and to avoid indigestion. Putting your fork down in between bites can help slow your consumption, which also gives your brain time to catch up to your stomach. (As you may have heard, it takes 15 – 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you’re full!) So slow down and enjoy the smell, taste and texture of your food this holiday season.
Tip #5: Don’t let alcohol upset your stomach. Women are especially susceptible to the effects of too much alcohol. While it is tempting to have more wine or eggnog or that special drink your cousin made, too much alcohol can irritate your GI tract, which can cause diarrhea, congestion, headache, and/or reflux.
If you want to limit your alcohol intake this holiday, try adding crushed fruit, such as raspberries or blueberries, to your water, and sip that over ice in between the holiday libations. Or try one of the all-natural flavored sparkling waters, served cold and straight up. Your body will thank you!
Tip #6: Avoid laying down for three to four hours after eating. Digesting large meals can make us tired, and a nap sounds good, doesn’t it? But laying down after a meal can also cause acid reflux (heartburn), which can cause other symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Gravity helps keep food down, so stand or sit up for several hours after your holiday meal.
Tip #7: Tune-in and tune-out. If you find yourself stressed over the holidays, try to make time for your regular routines, such as exercise, hydrating, meditation, reading, or whatever helps keep you calm and mindful. In the midst of the chaos, ask yourself: What can I let go of? Where can I find some “me-time?” How can I burn off the extra stress? If necessary, what invitations can I turn down?
Perhaps most importantly, try to find ways to manage your stress that don’t include food. Did you know that overeating can cause hormonal, electrolyte and blood-sugar imbalances? That in turn can add to your anxiety, or make you feel emotional, sad, tired, or irritated.
Keep in mind that this season is not about the opportunity to overeat (especially unhealthy food), but it's about enjoying the company of friends and family and being grateful for your many blessings. Make this the year that you walk away from the holiday meal feeling happy, healthy and energized!
Healthy Holiday Recipes
Crispy Fruit Cups
• 2 bags frozen apples (no sugar added)
• 1 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
• ½ cup chopped pecans
• ¼ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• 1 to 2 tsp unfiltered honey (optional)
• ½ cup organic ghee (a butter replacement, butter is okay too)
Heat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, pecans, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine well. Using a 9x13 glass baking dish, place the frozen apples in an even layer. Using a large spoon, sprinkle the oat/pecan/spice mixture over the frozen apples, covering the apples evenly.
Next, melt the ghee (or butter) in stove top pan until melted. Pour the ghee over the oat mixture as evenly as you can. (I pour mine into a spray bottle and spray the ghee to coat the dry mixture evenly).
Next, drizzle the honey over the oats. Bake for 40 minutes, until top is golden brown. If you want it crispier, you can broil it for 3 to 5 minutes, watching it closely to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Let cool and serve! You can also scoop the apple crisp into individual small or medium ramekins. That will eliminate everyone handling one serving spoon and reduce the risk of spreading germs. Topping with ice-cream will change the health benefits (sorry). This dish is sooo good without the ice-cream. ENJOY!
Sweet & Spicy Almonds
Make these in individual little glass jars to help reduce the risk of passing germs!
• 1 1/2 cups raw almonds or walnuts
• 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
• 1 tsp maple syrup
• 1 to 2 TBSP water
• 1 tsp coconut oil
• 1 tsp each nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp chipotle OR curry powder (or more to taste)
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
Set oven to 350°F. Using a baking sheet with edges, place almonds or walnuts in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. (Some ovens may take 12 to 15 minutes.) Turn the nuts halfway through timer. When toasted, use a spatula or spoon to move the nuts from the sheet to a bowl. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, mix the vanilla extract, maple syrup, water, and coconut oil. Stir the liquid and bring to a boil, then lower to simmering. Add the nuts to the saucepan and stir. Continue cooking and stirring until the nuts are well coated and have absorbed the liquid, about 5 minutes.
Using the bowl that the toasted nuts were in, mix the nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Stir well. Add the sea salt and the chipotle OR curry powder. Stir until all dry ingredients are combined well.
Now transfer the warm, coated nuts to the spice bowl. Toss to coat really well!
When the baking sheet is cooled, line it with a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Using a large spoon, place the sticky, spice-coated nuts in small mounds to cool. The nuts will stick together, making them easy to place into small cellophane bags. I like bags like these or these traditional cone-shaped.
Scoop one to two nut mounds into a glass jar or cellophane bag and cinch or tie with a ribbon. Place bags in a large decorative bowl and serve! Enjoy!
Let me support you!
This is a great time to look and feel your best! I can help you achieve your health and wellness goals as your own, personal Health Coach! You don't have to end the year undoing all the healthy changes you made. You CAN have more energy, lose weight, and eliminate your food-related symptoms.
I am passionate about helping my clients through my one-on-one health coaching. It’s amazing to see my clients succeed even when they thought it would never happen for them. Discover how my clients trade their unhealthy habits for healthy ones; how they learn to stop “binging” and "emotional eating;" reduce their cravings; sleep better; balance their blood sugar, reduce their cholesterol level and diabetes symptoms, and much, much more! Is it time for you to refresh and renew! I look forward to supporting you! Give me a call at 919-438-1381.
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