‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice lattes, holiday parties and cookies! The holidays should be enjoyed, but when New Years comes around and your resolution is to go on a crazy cleanse to undo the damage you did in November and December, it’s time to start rethinking your holiday health plan. Heidi Swan, a Certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, is sharing with us 4 simple things you can do to stay healthy during the holidays and keep those extra pounds at bay!
1. Party Portion Control – This may sound like common sense, but when you’re at a party and the cocktails are flowing it becomes much harder to tap into our hunger cues. I recommend my clients to start out with small portions of food, less than they think they need, then after they finish wait about 20 minutes and assess if you’re still actually hungry, or just eating because there’s food in front of them and it looks good. It takes a while for our stomach to signal our brain that we’re full – so starting with a large portion can lead to overeating since you’re stomach still thinks it’s hungry.
2. Cut grains for more greens – Rice pilafs and stuffing are great, the extra starchy carbs don’t do our waistline much good or offer much nutritional value. Try to cut the amount in half then sub in more leafy greens and vegetables (potatoes don’t count!). Cutting the starches in half will not only give you less of an insulin spike, but will also help you feel less bloated the next morning as grains can gunk up our digestive system when consumed in excess and inflame our gut lining.
3. Intermittent Fasting – You have probably heard a ton of hype around intermittent fasting, and I love it! IF is great for reducing inflammation, cleansing and overall weight loss. IF is something I personally try and do 4-days a week for an 18-hour fast and 6-hour eating window. After 12 hours of not eating your digestive system finally gets to rest and can start cleansing, so drinking lots of liquid during the fasting period is very important! All of the excess sugar and processed foods during the holidays increases inflammation in our bodies, so doing this is a simple way to aid in reducing it. If you’re not up to go for 18 hours – try something smaller and go for 14. Also, when breaking your fast it’s important to eat a nutritious, clean meal full of fiber, healthy fats, and lean protein. After being without food for a while your body needs something nutritious to refuel it back up!
4. Switch your sugars – Instead of using refined white sugar for cookies and treats try out Monkfruit! Monkfruit is an all natural zero calorie and zero sugar sweetener. Not only are you saving yourself a huge insulin spike but you’re also saving a ton of calories! You can subsititue it as a 1:1 ratio with normal sugar, it has the same granular consistency. Lakanto is my go-to brand and is available at Sprouts, Whole Foods or Amazon (or other natural foods stores). Lakanto also makes a low-glycemic maple syrup (I use it and it tastes just like the real thing!) it’s very low calorie and 0 grams sugar! A great option for recipes that call for maple syrup or honey.
5. Get some dandelions in your diet – Dandelion tea that is! Excess alcohol and sugar takes a huge toll on the liver, and the liver is a very important organ for burning fat! When the liver is over-worked trying to process sugar, fat, and alcohol the excess gets stored as fat around our belly – so keeping the liver clean and working efficiently is a biggie! Dandelion greens are excellent at cleansing the liver, reducing all around bloat, and boosting your immune system. Dandelion tea is an easy and effective way to help your liver a little during the holidays. You can purchase it at most health food stores (I find mine at Sprouts at Whole Foods). Traditional Medicine’s Roasted dandelion tea is my favorite as it has a little more of a savory flavor and is great with a splash of coconut milk and a few drops of stevia! You can also incorporate fresh dandelion greens in your salad or sauté them with other greens.
About Heidi Swan
Heidi Swan is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner from the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Behavior Change Specialist. She focuses on educating clients how nutrition and digestion affects mental and physical health. Heidi moved to Phoenix after graduating with her business degree from University of Oregon and began working in the corporate world. Heidi always had a passion for nutrition and wellness, and after 4 years with lack of fulfillment from her office job, quit and began school at the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts to pursue her passion for helping people feel their best through nutrition and wellness.
Heidi is experienced in a wide range of nutritional services but has a special interest in the effects of nutrition and brain function, particularly anxiety and depression. Heidi believes that proper nutrition and digestion play an integrative role in mental wellbeing and is committed to helping her clients develop a unique nutrition plan and establish sustainable nutrition and lifestyle changes to meet their mental and physical needs. Heidi offers personalized meal plans, lifestyle changes, and support. Her services are also offered via Skype, for clients outside the metro Phoenix area.