How to Healthfully Navigate the Holidays

woman eating cookie

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Parties, dinners, family get-togethers…’tis the season to overindulge. But before you fall off the health wagon, we asked three experts in nutrition and healthful living to share their top tips for navigating the holidays. (We bet you never thought of doing a post-Thanksgiving family yoga session in your living room.) Read on for some healthy eating tips and sage advice.

Liana Werner-Gray, advocate for natural healing and the author of The Earth Diet

  1. Start each morning with lemon water. It’s high in vitamin C and immediately boosts the immune system as well as cleanses the mouth, stomach and liver. Also, drink lemon water after a heavy meal to aid with digestion. Don’t deprive yourself! When you feel like eating desserts, eat them, but make sure it’s as natural as possible. If you aren’t getting nutrition and antioxidants from your desserts, don’t eat them! Replace all junk foods with natural alternatives, including raw chocolate, cashew cheesecake, gluten-free cookie dough balls made with almonds, ice cream made with nuts or apple crumble. Desserts should nourish your body — have your cake and eat it, too.
  2. Eat as many raw whole foods as possible. Whole foods are extremely nutrient rich and help us to feel light and positive. Add raw whole elements to your cooked meals like fresh parsley, cilantro, cucumber, celery and avocado to soups, pastas, rice, quinoa and curries.
  3. Commit to staying away from refined white sugar. Go for natural sugars instead like dates, honey, maple syrup and fruits. White sugar can create anxiety and stress on the body, especially the digestive system.

Tara Stiles, celebrity yogi and the author of Make Your Own Rules Diet

  1. Time can get sucked during the holidays while lazing around with friends and family. Take advantage of the together time by getting everyone involved in an energy-boosting activity. I have loads of routines you can practice with on YouTube right in the living room.
  2. Get in the kitchen. Make it a group effort to cook, clean and celebrate being together. When more people have a hand in helping with the process, it helps to enjoy the meal more. Helping with cleanup gives everyone something to do besides post-meal grazing.
  3. Start the day right. Take time for yourself in the morning to go for a walk, do a simple meditation or journal. Whatever your favorite thing to do to center yourself is, do it. You’ll feel more spacious during the day, even when the house gets filled with everyone.

Chef Jenny Ross, executive chef, creator of popular health foods chain 118 Degrees and the author of Healing with Raw Foods

  1. Set up your day for success: You are 30 percent more likely to eat right all day long if you start the day right. Especially in the holiday craze, I recommend you enjoy a blended superfood smoothie for breakfast and ensure all of your nutritional needs are met. Here is the Daily 5 smoothie recipe (30 seconds in any blender and you are out the door): 1 cup seasonal fruit (try a banana and frozen berries), 2 leaves of kale or a handful of spinach, 4 ounces water or coconut water, 1 tablespoon spirulina or hemp seeds, 1 tablespoon almond butter. Blend and enjoy!
  2. Two bite rule: Two bites is enough to “taste” and “experience.” Remember that sugar and runaway carbohydrates can impact your health on many levels, so it’s best to keep food devoid of nutritional benefits to a two bite maximum.
  3. A salad a day provides balance: Much like a morning smoothie can catapult your health for the day, a fresh plant-powered salad can provide you with extra minerals and enzymes benefiting how your body responds to your entire meal. When you combine foods on your holiday plate, try to remember this idea for balance and instead of combining carbohydrates and denser proteins (like turkey and potatoes), try instead the protein and a salad.
  4. Food forgiveness: If you find that you have a slip-up where you really don’t feel good about your food choices during the holiday season, quickly forgive yourself and start your healthy lifestyle again at your next meal, don’t “wait until Monday.” Your health is cumulative and you want to start Monday off with a bang!