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Holiday Survival Guide

That cozy, Home Alone watching, snow angel making, bright city lights gazing, tree decorating, and feasting time of the year is finally here. If you’re as excited as I am, you may also be thinking, “How am I going to handle all the food about to come my way AND still remain healthy?” Don’t worry, I got you.

Firstly, I just want to say that there should never be guilt around eating certain food(s). I know with all the trends it’s really easy to get caught up in labelling one food as “healthy” and another as “junk” or ignore that mental “good and bad” list you have going on in your head. However, I like to stick to the 80/20 Rule, which I’m sure most of you have heard of. You eat natural, nutrient-dense foods 80% of the time, and those not-so-natural foods the other 20% of the time. This allows you to give your cells the macronutrients they need; providing yourself with energy, mental clarity, good mood, peaceful sleep, and so on. Also, you get to keep your sanity. If you’re anything like me then you also like to eat chocolate and sometimes 90% cacao just doesn’t cut it, so you eat a little extra sugar every once in a while.

When it comes to the holidays, that 80/20 Rule sometimes goes down to a 60/40 Rule, or something like that… While life happens, your body also deserves to get nourished and not go through days of bloating, headaches, constipation/diarrhea and horrible sleep from all the food you overconsumed. Here’s how I think of it: of course, you want to enjoy all these great moments with family and friends and indulge in the foods you’re all sharing. There are a few things you can do, however, to enjoy those experiences without having health issues afterwards.

Tips and tricks:

1)Do NOT feel guilty – this is SUPER important. Not only is feeling guilty a waste because you already ate the food and you deserve to indulge, but it also brings stress to the body. Stress doesn’t help us in any way, so forget about it.

2)Water, water, and more water. Water not only helps us flush out toxins, regulate bowel movements, have glowing skin, etc. but it also helps you dodge cravings. Often time cravings (especially of salty and sweet foods) could just be a sign that you are in need of hydration.

3)Bring snacks with you. I always carry an apple or a nutritious bar with me on the go, because you never know when you’ll be hungry and this way you reach for a healthy snack.

4)Eat before you go. While this sounds ridiculous if you’re on your way to a dinner party, I don’t mean eat a full meal. Just have a healthy smoothie or something to help your digestion in case you have to wait for food longer than you anticipated. We all know that feeling.

5)Portion control: try to be mindful of your size (or quantity) of plates you fill, which brings me to my next few points…

6)Pace yourself. Aside from portion control, it is important to enjoy the food we are eating, and more so the company we are with. The food won’t leave your plate (unless your sibling or relative steals it off there), it will be there ready to eat when you are.

7)Mindfulness. This goes along with pace yourself: be mindful of the food you are eating, the time and effort it took to prepare it, and so on. This makes eating a whole different – and more enjoyable – experience.

8)Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats). While this ratio differs for everyone, your plate can be filled with carbohydrates (lots of vegetables and fruits), some form of protein (chicken, turkey, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, etc.), and fats (avocado, nuts/seeds, fish, eggs, olive oil, etc.) 

This way you get all your macronutrients in and your body feels satisfied.

9)Be kind to your body. If you have any sort of intolerance such as dairy or gluten (like myself), then indulging on cheese may not be the best idea or worth the side effects it comes with.

10)Enjoy. Enjoy the company, enjoy the food, enjoy the holidays. You are human after all.

- Iren Frasheri, CNP