The holiday season is upon us, which is the time to eat, drink and be merry. With plenty of holiday parties and work do’s to go to, healthy eating can often go out the window. Here’s some tips for staying healthy over the holiday season without missing out on any of the fun.
SUPPORT YOUR DIGESTION:
People always tend to overeat on Christmas day and at holiday get togethers. Rich fatty foods, too many sweets and excessive alcohol places a heavy burden on our liver and digestion, which leaves us feeling sluggish and bloated.
Taking a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme capsule with meals is a great way to help improve the digestion of your meal to help prevent uncomfortable digestive symptoms including indigestion, bloating, and wind. Having some bitter foods like bitter lettuce (endives, rocket, mustard and dandelion greens) or lemon with your meal, or taking 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a little water 15 minutes before eating, can also help improve digestion and reduce flatulence and bloating.
So you don’t end up feeling full and uncomfortable after eating try to eat mindfully and chew your food well. Chewing is an important part of healthy digestion, and eating too quickly and not chewing your food well can lead to tummy upsets. Eat slowly and savour your meal.
Peppermint, chamomile, and ginger are all fantastic ‘carminative’ herbs traditionally used by herbalists to alleviate excess wind and bloating. You will find these botanicals in our VitaliTEA (peppermint), SereniTEA (chamomile) and ZesTEA (ginger). These teas would be perfect to serve after eating to help ease uncomfortable digestive symptoms.
HEALTHY PROTEIN SOURCES:
Including some healthy protein with your meal along with some fibre-rich vegetables or salad is a great way to prevent you wanting seconds. Protein and fibre helps to keep you feel full and satisfied, and curbs sugar cravings. Roast turkey, chicken, lamb, pork, seafood, meat-free meatloaf (nuts + tofu) and grilled tofu/veggie skewers, are all healthy choices for Christmas lunch that are great sources of protein. If you like to have ham with your Christmas lunch buy sliced ham that is nitrate free. Grilled or BBQ seafood platters or whole large BBQ fish filled with fresh herbs and lemon make an excellent Christmas meal served with a variety of salads and healthy sauces. Try to avoid unhealthy deep fried seafood.
As a rule of thumb you should be having a portion of protein the size and thickness of your palm, then fill the rest of your plate with salad or veggies. Cut down on calories by cutting off some of the fat and skin, and hold off on pork crackling. Make your own healthy fresh cranberry sauce, bone broth gravy, chimichurri, or mango salsa to add extra flavour to your meats, poultry and seafood.
LOAD YOUR PLATE WITH VEGGIES + SALADS:
Steamed and oven baked veggies are the perfect way to make your Christmas feast a healthier one. Oven baked root veggies like pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, and jacket potatoes are all healthy, fibre-rich choices to go with your Christmas meal. Keep the skins on as they contain flavonoids that are rich in antioxidants and extra fibre. Hold off on lots of butter and sour cream and instead opt for some olive oil and Greek yoghurt. Try pan-fried or oven baked Brussels sprouts with some olive oil and spices, and lightly steamed green beans, asparagus, peas, corn cobs and broccoli. Add extra flavour to your steamed veggies by tossing them in a little olive oil and adding fresh herbs and spices, roast garlic, lemon juice, some almond flakes or a little crumbled feta.
Salads are ideal on a hot Christmas day. Toss some shredded kale through salads for extra goodness. Pomegranates or dried cranberries are tasty addition to Christmas day salads. Avoid salads with creaming dressings and mayonnaise and instead make your own healthy dressings using nutritious ingredients like Greek yoghurt, lemon, herbs, garlic, wholegrain mustard, avocado, tahini and apple cider vinegar.
Instead of serving unhealthy snacks like chocolate nuts, chips and salted peanuts, go for healthy platter full of nutritious snacks like raw or dry-roasted mixed nuts, healthy dips (hummus, beetroot or roast pumpkin hummus, guacamole, salsa and baba ganoush), cheeses, dried fruits, oven baked artichokes, olives, berries, mini bruschetta, fresh figs stuffed with feta, veggie sticks, and healthy wholegrain crackers, crusty bread slices or homemade pita chips. Fresh rice paper rolls, sushi, and mini frittatas also make great healthy Christmas snacks to serve your guests. Make a big fruit platter for the table for people to snack on. You can serve it with some yoghurt dips.
For fruit cake lovers try our healthy festive fruit cake recipe. Healthy sorbet made from blended frozen fruits is a delicious dessert on a hot summers Christmas day. Healthy fruit ice blocks or chocolate dipped strawberries or bananas are also great Chrissy treats for the kids. Instead of sugary sweets try some of these healthy chocolaty treats Gluten-free Cherry Ripe Balls, Chocolate Date & Brazil Bites, and Caramel Chocolate truffles. Your guests will love them!
HEALTHY ICED TEAS + MOCKTAILS:
Make a big pitcher of iced tea with sliced fresh fruit, plenty of ice and mint. It looks lovely on your Christmas table and it’s a healthy and delicious alternative to unhealthy soft drinks. Try our award-winning Pomegranate & Lime iced tea made with Bodhi Organic LongeviTEA. Other delicious iced tea combinations include chilled green tea with apple juice, lime and mint, made with viridiTEA, or chilled ginger & lemongrass tea with either pink grapefruit or some pineapple juice, made with Bodhi ZesTEA. Iced teas also make perfect healthy mocktails or cocktail mixers. Check out our favourites on our iced tea + cocktails recipe section.
SUPPORT YOUR LIVER:
During the holiday festivities our poor livers get overloaded. Other than the obvious, enjoying alcohol in moderation, you can give your liver a helping hand by consuming certain foods and herbs that help support healthy liver function. Have a good serving of sulfur-containing vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and onion and garlic with your Christmas meal. Take the herb Milk thistle daily to protect your liver cells from alcohol-induced damage and to enhance your liver detoxification. You will find this fantastic liver-boosting botanical in our Bodhi PuriTEA (DETOX)
Keep well hydrated when you're drinking alcohol. Make sure you eat something nutritious before you go out drinking and try to snack on healthy foods when you’re out. This will slow the absorption of alcohol into your blood stream.
Avoid sugary mixers like soft drink, syrups, or sweet cocktails with alcohol. These are not only packed with calories but they will send your blood sugar levels soaring, leaving you dehydrated and lethargic the morning after, ultimately exacerbating your hangover symptoms. Iced teas make a delicious healthy cocktail mixer.
HOW TO EASE A HANGOVER:
Here are a few ways to help ease hangover symptoms if you’ve overindulged the night before. A fast way to rehydrate your body after you’ve been out drinking is with a natural electrolyte drink like coconut water, along with plenty of water. The homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica 30C can be useful for treating hangover symptoms such as headaches and nausea. 5 drops, 4 x day. N-acetyl-cyseine (NAC) is another helpful hangover remedy. NAC is an amino acid that is needed to produce the enzyme glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps the liver detoxify and clear toxins such as alcohol from the body. Eggs are a good hangover food as they are a good source of NAC.
SUPPORT YOUR ADRENALS:
The holiday season is a wonderful time of year but it can also be an extremely stressful one for many people. Rushing around doing last minute Christmas shopping, the financial strain of buying the perfect gift for family and friends, too many Christmas parties, along with the stress of family get togethers and having to cook a delicious Christmas feast for everyone.
Support your adrenals during this busy time with adaptogenic herbs such as withania, Siberian ginseng, bacopa, rhodiola, holy basil and medicinal mushrooms. These herbs will help support the functioning of your adrenal glands during times of stress, so you can cope with the stress of the holiday season in a healthier way. These herbs are perfect for anyone who is feeling stressed, tired and overwhelmed. You can take these herbs in tincture or tablet form or as a tea. Our best adrenal tonic tea is Bodhi Organic VitaliTEA made with peppermint, spearmint, orange, ginger, withania, bacopa, and Siberian ginseng. Our delicious Bodhi Hot ChocolaTEA contains medicinal mushrooms (lion's mane, cordyceps and chaga) and adaptogenic herbs withania and astragalus to help support your adrenal health.
Supplement your diet with a B complex vitamin and magnesium (300mg, 2 x day) supplement. These two important ‘anti-stress’ nutrients will calm the nervous system to help reduce anxiety, along with boosting energy levels. Just what you need to get you through the busy festive period. The body also uses up a considerable amount of nutrients when processing alcohol, such as niacin (vitamin B3). If your vitamin B3 levels are low, this elimination process will be impaired and will prolong alcohol levels in your system. By taking a complex B supplement daily you will be ensuring that your vitamin B levels are adequate to deal with any increase in alcohol intake.
Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath + founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.