By Jessica Berliner, MScN

Clinical Integrative Nutritionist

 

Happy Holidays! For some, it is the most wonderful time of the year and for others, a dreaded time when their health goes haywire. Does it seem like once Halloween ended it has just been a blur of holiday parties, holiday baking and the stress of holiday shopping derailing your carefully crafted summer changes? Or maybe you’re still having a hard time getting it together and the holidays just make the goal of optimal health seem THAT much further away?

 

Well, this does not have to be the case! There are ways to make this time of year and the sugar cravings that ultimately come along with it seem like a thing of the past! Most of the foods that are being consumed during this time of year are also inflammatory, influencing everything from your immune response to your mood. So even if weight changes don’t feel like a concern, do you find yourself getting sick more often? Do you feel like the stress is getting to you more than normal? Well, it could be the foods you’re eating, and just a few tweaks can make the holiday season easier and get you in prime position to make those new year's resolutions a reality.

 

1. Eat a protein-rich meal before parties to avoid over consumption of sweets. If you know you’re going to a party that is bound to have a lot of sweets, alcohol or rich foods it is always a good idea to have a small, healthier meal before the party. This will help you consume less calories and avoid temptation of foods that you may not want, leaving you just enough space to really enjoy the foods/drinks you love at the party.

2. Keep an exercise routine going. I know this can seem like a challenge, but keeping a consistent routine will help you keep your mind clear, and prevent some of that holiday weight gain. Also, it is important with all the parties and hecticness during this time of year to maintain consistency in other aspects of your life. Having a routine will also make it easier to keep going versus having to restart a new routine once the holidays are over.

3. L-Glutamine is an amino acid (building block of protein) that aids in muscle recovery, protects the mucosal lining of the gut, reduces sugar cravings and balances blood sugar! When blood sugar is low, glutamine will convert to glucose so your body uses it as an effective fuel source. I use L-Glutamine as one of the primary tools in healing leaky gut, where proteins leak from the intestinal lining into the bloodstream. This is commonly caused by undiagnosed food allergies, stress, inflammation, etc… With the types of food commonly ingested during the holidays, having a little added security for gut health is never a bad thing.

4. Gymnema is an herb primarily found in India. This small woody shrub has been used in ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for diabetes for many years. It is used as an effective “sweetness blocker”, making sweet foods (that are naturally or artificially sweetened) taste less sweet on the tongue, therefore people usually eat less of them. Also acting as a glucose blocker, it helps balance blood sugar in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics as well as nondiabetics.

5. Treat yourself to some down time! Ever notice that when you’re running around stressed, you tend to eat more and tend to eat worse? Or you get sick much more easily because you’re so run down? Make sure you give yourself some time to relax, and don’t be afraid to say no to holiday engagements if it feels too overwhelming. Know your limits and make sure you leave time for yourself and routines that will keep you healthy.