Holiday Meal Tweaks for Added Health Benefits //

I want to give you permission to approach the holidays without that “all-or-nothing” mindset I observe so often, especially during this time of year. It seems to either fall under “I’ll wait until January to get things under wraps — so I’ll throw all caution to the wind for now!” or an alternative strict, rigid approach where you feel restricted and unable to enjoy what you want to enjoy during the holiday season.

After all, it’s only once a year we get grandma’s famous pecan pie, and there’s no need to waste the chance to enjoy it. I personally subscribe to a balanced approach to life, which means making healthy decisions sprinkled in with indulgences. I also use tricks and tweaks to make typically “unhealthy” choices healthier, which I’m going to share with you today.

Be selective about sweets

You don’t want to miss out on the festive treats you wait all year to enjoy, nor should you. You can take a balanced approach by selecting your absolute favorite dessert to enjoy after your meal or take small slivers of a few to have small tastes of each one. You can also make your own healthier treats with natural ingredients that don’t have all the sugars lurking in them — your friends and family won’t even know!

Counter treats with healthy snacks

Cut up some fresh veggies and enjoy them with hummus or another healthy dip. You’ll fill up on the right foods when you’re hungry and won’t have the appetite to fill up on junkier items that will leave you feeling sluggish.

Add fermented foods

Compare photos of everyone’s holiday feasts and they have the usual suspects on there. It’s not that we should shove tradition out into the snow but adding something different helps shake things up in the best way. A side of sauerkraut or kimchi is excellent for adding probiotics that your gut needs to be healthy. You can even find ways to add them to your usual dishes to spice them up.

Don’t forget the prebiotics too

To get the good gut bacteria going from those probiotics, you need prebiotics to nourish them. Onions, garlic, and asparagus tend to go well on the holiday table. Legumes are a great choice for a meatless dish, and if you feel like something sweet for a snack, try a banana, which will give that gut bacteria plenty of sustenance, leading you to better immunity for the cold and flu season.

Hit the sheets

Okay, so it’s not a meal tweak per se, but sleep is critical because it affects how you eat and what foods you turn to when you’re hungry. Rest is also beneficial for helping your body fight off any pathogens. Right now, that’s something everyone needs to think about.

As another bonus, good sleep keeps your stress hormone, cortisol, in check, which means your body can work as it should without interference. Get plenty of sleep and dream about healthy meals or even adding in extra fruits and vegetables wherever you can to bring the holidays into a balanced state.