Monday, 30 November 2015

How to Balance your Plate this Holiday Season

The holidays are about celebrating, and with celebrations there often comes excess. Everyone’s version of a treat is a little bit different, but regardless of whether you choose gingerbread, eggnog, or a second go at the cheese board, here are some ideas for balancing out your choices so that you can feel your best this holiday season. 

First let’s start off with the basics.

Step one: stay hydrated. 

Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, and can quickly lead to overeating. Your body needs fluid to break down and metabolize food, so the more you eat, the thirstier you'll get, creating a compounding cycle. Throughout the day try to keep a cup or water bottle within sight (and reach) so you have both a reminder and the means to keep your fluid intake up. Not a fan of water? Try cold brewed herbal tea (steep it overnight in the fridge) or just add natural flavour enhancers like citrus fruit slices, cucumber slices, or mint leaves.  

Step two: eat normally during the day. 

If you start skipping meals to "save up" calories for the evening, you're going to arrive famished and unintentionally devour everything in sight without truly enjoying any of it, leaving you with a painfully full belly and wishing you could do it over again slower. If you eat normally during the day, you'll be able to savour your favourite treats slowly without the hangry monster in your head telling you to swallow faster. 

If you suspect your everyday “normal” could be improved, or you'd like to do more, keep reading for some further ideas or consider seeing a nutritionist for dietary assessment.

Greens – especially dark or bitter greens such as arugula, watercress, dandelion, and herbs like parsley or cilantro. These powerhouses deliver immune-boosting vitamins A and C and alkalizing minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium, all while being naturally low in calories and high in fiber. The high chlorophyll content supports liver detoxification and is protective of the intestinal linings that may be inflamed from consuming processed foods and alcohol over the holidays. Whether you choose to search out dishes with these ingredients during the party, or would rather load up your plate the meal before and after is up to you - but don’t forget about the power of green.

Probiotic foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and fermented pickles help support the digestive process by contributing both pre- and probiotics to promote a healthy intestinal environment. A healthy digestive system is a foundation for a healthy body and mind, and even the smallest imbalance can start to cause symptoms such as bloating or indigestion, mood swings, and lower energy levels. While sugary or refined carbohydrate foods prevalent during the holidays feed potentially disruptive or harmful bacteria in our system, fermented foods encourage healthy bacteria to grow and thrive, bringing our digestive system back into balance. 

Antioxidants are protective of all body tissues, and help prevent cellular and tissue damage by binding with free radicals caused by high heat baking or frying of fats and oils, or refining and storage enhancing processes common with many holiday table favourites. Nuts, seeds, and jewel tone fruits and vegetables are all excellent natural sources of antioxidants. These protective nutrients often work best together, so aim to plate as many colours as possible at each meal. Fresh or frozen berries, purple cabbage and beets, orange sweet potato and carrots, red peppers and tomatoes, and yellow squash and lemons are all great sources of natural antioxidants. 

For more information on how to find a healthy balance this holiday season, visit or give us a call at 613 230 0998 to book a free 15-minute assessment with myself of one of my colleagues at Ottawa Holistic Wellness.

About the Author

Jessica is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for helping people live happier, healthier, more vibrant lives through nutrition and lifestyle coaching. 

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