Halloween may not seem like the start of the holiday season, but if you think about it, Halloween ushers in the end of the year holiday season. Halloween falls at the end of October and before you take that first bite of the Halloween haul of candy, people are already arranging their Thanksgiving cornucopia and in some cases, even trimming the Christmas tree. (Gasp).
The holidays are a time when a lot of us show our love through food. From dad’s delicious desserts to grandma’s loaded mashed potatoes, these comfort foods evoke nostalgic feelings that give us all of the warm and fuzzy vibes. Unfortunately, many of these traditional holiday favorites are packed with processed ingredients our bodies may not recognize.
One way to navigate the end-of-year holidays is to put a more mindful spin on holiday classics, but there are also other things you can do to help you stick to your health and wellness goals for the year. Here are seven simple ways to navigate now until the end of the year.
#1 Batch Cook
One of the best feelings after a busy day of holiday preparation is to come home to a prepared dinner. Do your future self a favor and batch cook to save yourself from cooking a meal from scratch. Make extra servings of your favorite foods like burger patties, grilled chicken, and roasted vegetables. Freeze off single servings of your favorite recipes like grass-fed beef chili, chicken curry, or Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, then, when you are hungry after a day of holiday shopping, you can enjoy a healthy and hearty meal. Trust us, you, your stomachs, and your tastebuds will thank you later!
#2 Boost Phytonutrient Intake
Phytonutrients, or plant nutrients, are responsible for a plant’s bright color, smell, and taste, and plant-based foods are packed with them. Phytonutrients support the immune system, help rid the body of toxins, and reduce oxidative stress on cells. In order to get an adequate amount of phytonutrients, eat the rainbow. Make sure there are at least one, or more, colors of food on your plate at each meal. Add a handful of green spinach to morning eggs, grab a red apple in between meetings, and try some purple sweet potatoes at dinner for a delicious and brightly colored side dish.
#3 Practice Self-Gratitude
Navigating now until the New Year holiday is not all about food, it is also about mindset. During the season of giving, make sure to give back to the most important person of all, yourself. Whether you curl up by the fireplace with a good book and hot mug of hot cocoa, hit the gym for a workout, or simply take a nap, remember to do something that makes you happy this holiday season.
#4 Spice It Up
This holiday season, incorporate more herbs and spices into your holiday meals. Herbs, seasonings, and spices can potentially deliver anti-viral properties, fight inflammation and provide immune support. Cinnamon has even been found to curb sugar cravings by supporting blood glucose levels. Here are some easy ways to use more herbs and spices in your everyday cooking:
● Add cinnamon, rosemary, sage, and thyme to turkey breakfast sausage before cooking.
● Rub salmon with black pepper, fresh garlic, oregano, and turmeric. Then, and a squeeze
of lemon juice before baking or pan searing.
● Stir cinnamon into your favorite nut butter then serve with sliced apples or celery sticks.
This makes for the perfect snack to curb any sweet tooth cravings.
● Toss butternut squash in coconut oil then sprinkle with cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, and
ginger before roasting in the oven.
#5 Step Up Snacktime
The holidays can get busy, chaotic, and downright stressful, so plan more mindful snacks ahead of time to keep hunger at bay on those extra busy days. Stock up on foods that are high in fat and fiber, as this combination will keep you satiated until your next meal. Prep healthy snacks so you are never left hungry or worse, hangry! Some delicious and nutritious snack options include fresh fruit slices and a favorite nut or seed butter, half of an avocado with a slice of hearty toast, or cheese slices with a handful of crackers.
#6 Support Gut Health
Over 70% of the cells in our immune systems are located in the gut so if we want to stay healthy this holiday season, or any time of the year for that matter, we need a healthy gut. A simple way to do this is by drinking bone broth. Bone broth is naturally rich in glutamine, an amino acid that feeds the cell lining our intestines. Bone broth is also packed with collagen, which is not only healing for the gut, but is also great for hair, nails, and skin. Warm up this holiday season with a hot mug of bone broth to enjoy on a chilly fall day or use it as a base for all of your fall sauces, soups, and stews.
#7 Swap Sugar for Fat
High amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugar can cause spikes and dips in blood sugar when not properly balanced with protein or fat sources. This up and down roller coaster can trigger cravings, lethargy, and that “hangry” feeling. Make small food swaps throughout the day such as substituting a bowl of morning fruit for half of an avocado. Trade chips for nut or seed-based crackers dipped in homemade guacamole or crush that chocolate craving with a spoonful of almond butter or cashew butter topped with a sprinkle of cacao nibs for a savory and sweet treat.
Navigating now until the New Year with holidays does not have to be complicated. Simply employ these seven simple tips and navigate the end of the year holidays with ease.
Follow along with more of Ashley Martens tips and tricks on the Discover Blog.