12 Quick Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

With Halloween behind us, we have officially entered into the holiday season. The days are shorter, the nights longer and cooler. Our clocks have changed. Social commitments are up and our adherence to dietary protocols is likely down.

The abundance of activities during this time of year threatens to knock us out of balance and push us back into a state of ill-health/dis-ease. Here are a few tips to help you make it through to 2014 as healthfully as possible.

1. Apply the 5-6/7 rule. Commit to sticking as closely to the dietary component of your treatment plan as you can for 5 or 6 out of the 7 days a week. It is nearly impossible to be 100% successful with all of the festive temptations calling to you, so take expectation of perfection away. Plan accordingly and allot 1-2 days per week for allowing yourself to enjoy the treats others offer.

2. Eat before you go out. When you are headed to a gathering, party or restaurant where you know your healthy food choices will be limited, eat what you know your body likes at home before leaving the house. It is infinitely more difficult to resist temptation when you are genuinely hungry than when you have been fed and can make a conscious choice whether to eat something that is part of your diet or not.

3. Enjoy 1 of your food intolerances at a time. Instead of going berserk and indulging in all of your food intolerances, choose 1 at a time to enjoy. It is much easier to ask for a dairy-free option or a gluten-free option at a party or office get-together than to ask for a dairy-, soy-, egg-, gluten-, grain-, refined carbohydrate-, peanut- and shellfish-free choice. Doing this will also help to decrease the amount and severity of symptoms you may experience as a result of indulging, not to mention shorten the amount of time it will take you to heal from said excursion.

4. Always eat food (protein is preferred) while drinking
This will help to slow down the rate at which you absorb the alcohol and therefore decrease the impact it will have on your body. It is also a good idea to drink 1-2 glasses of water for each drink you consume and to limit yourself to no more than 2 drinks per festive occasion.

5. Always eat protein when eating sweets. This will help to stabilize your blood sugar so you don’t experience highs followed by a “sugar crash.”

6. Buy a box of digestion-support tea. There are many blends available and they often contain a combination of herbs to relieve gas, calm cramping and support overall digestion. Look for any of the following herbs: chamomile, mint, cardamom, ginger, fennel, skullcap and/or licorice. Drink it throughout the day and after meals.

7. Take digestive enzymes after particularly heavy meals and those that contain your food intolerances. These are designed to support and improve digestion, especially when compromised by lots of rich foods, eating late, indulging in intolerances, and decreased sleep. A good formula will support protein, carbohydrate and fat digestion and may even contain hydrochloric acid. For those of you who are gluten intolerant, Glutenzyme can help to decrease the effects of gluten on the rare occasion that you do indulge.

8. Save your vegetable ends for making stock. Whenever you cook, you can create stock with most of your vegetable ends before they go into the compost. Try using onion and garlic peels, carrot peels and ends, celery leaves and ends, broccoli and chard stems and/or unused parts of fresh herbs. Basically, anything that will not impart a bitter taste, such as pepper seeds and eggplant skins, can be gathered while you cook.

Set your peels, ends, leaves and stems aside in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or until you have accumulated enough. Cover them with water, bring them to a boil and let them simmer until your stock’s smell and taste are to your liking. Strain the stock, use it in your recipes or freeze it for later. This will save you lots of money (premade, store-bought stocks are expensive) and allow you to control the ingredients (many packaged stocks have sugar, flavorings and oil).

9. Make bone broth. Save your animal bones and use them to make a mineral-rich broth. Cover with 2-3x as much water as bones, bring to a boil, turn down to a moderate simmer, add in a few cups of vinegar and leave like this to simmer for 3-8 hours. Check regularly and add more water as needed. When the broth is done, strain it and allow it to cool. It will turn quite gelatinous when cold and will return to liquid when heated. Use this broth to make beans, whole grains, soups, stews and the like. Its flavor is deep and delicious—and thanks to the vinegar, the nutrient content (especially minerals) is high.

10. Take an immune-support formula. Do this either on a regular basis or at the very first sign of symptoms. All the change in your diet and the difficulty of sticking to routine increase your chances of getting sick. Supporting your immune system on a daily basis is a great way to stave off infection.

Many formulas are available, but look for ones that contain vitamins A, D &C, along with herbs like echinacea, elder berry, myrrh, Oregon grape root and ginger. Super BioVegetarian and Phytobiotic are two favorites of the Berkeley Naturopathic Medical Group. Ask your doctor which of the two is best suited for you and what the correct dosing should be.

11. Consider melatonin and/or Biotone EFA for sleep support. Getting quality sleep is key to maintaining your energy and immune health, as well as your memory and cognitive function. Despite our best efforts, getting to bed at a decent hour during the holidays is exceptionally difficult. Both melatonin and the Biotone EFA’s help to improve the quality of sleep you do get, even if the hours are reduced. Most people can safely take 2-5mg of melatonin per night or on an as-needed basis.

12. Wash your hands. Hand washing is perhaps the simplest, easiest and most economical way to stave off infection. Regular soap is all you need so steer clear of anything fancy, scented or anti-microbial. Be sure to wash palms, backs of hands and in between fingers. Try humming the alphabet once or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” twice as a way to ensure you are taking adequate time to wash thoroughly. Wash before eating, after using the restroom, after coughing/sneezing, after shaking hands and certainly after you have been around people who are clearly sick.

—Dr. Korza

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