As we enter the Christmas season, there is an air of excitement, summertime bliss and a fresh start on the horizon.
For many of us, this time may also bring about a little bit (or perhaps a lot) of stress. Whether it be from the overwhelm of gift giving, people visiting, or the overindulgence at events, Christmas parties and family gatherings. Often times this leaves us starting the new year feeling less than refreshed, and isn’t the best way to start on your goals for the year ahead.
I want to encourage you all to still enjoy this time, while making some healthier choices that allow you to continue feeling and looking your best self for the season, and the new year.
From a naturopathic perspective, balance within the body is enabled when all disturbing factors are removed, and the foundations for health are put in place. In regards to the Christmas period, it is important to make sure you continue doing all your daily self care practices that you usually would, and if needed, include more.
Whether it be in your morning routine, evening rituals or throughout the pockets of your day, include time to care for yourself. A foundational self care routine includes exercise, adequate hydration, nutritious meals, restful and enough sleep, sunshine and mindfulness, or another mental health practice. To continue these things throughout this busy period, it may be easiest to instill them into your mornings if you haven’t already.
When it comes to the over indulgence which tends to occur around this time, know that if you are keeping up with your foundational health routine, it is okay to enjoy many of the delicacies that surround you. Restriction, dieting and calorie counting are not sustainable practices and they are not usually part of the Naturopathic philosophy. Allow yourself to enjoy the foods of the season.
When these are enjoyed in gatherings, with friends and family, this is nourishment for the soul. Don’t stress about the foods you want to eat, and simply ensure you balance them out with some healthy options as well.
In terms of some extra self care practices that may be beneficial for you, consider herbs to promote a healthy gut. If you drink alcohol, and perhaps a little more than usual during the Christmas season, you may feel the effects within your digestive system.
Processed foods and refined carbohydrates may also have you feeling sluggish, foggy and less than your usual best. Ensure you practice moderation and the tips I mentioned above, but if you do need some extra help, consider the following herbs:
Calendula officinalis - a gentle lymphatic herb that also helps to support the lining of the digestive tract. Lymphatic herbs have the ability to support all eliminatory pathways
Ulmus rubra - also known as Slippery Elm add water to this powdered root to create a demulcent gut healing gel. This helps the prevention or healing of ulcers, closes potential gaps in the tight junctions of your intestinal lining thus helping to decrease “leaky gut” or increased intestinal permeability.
Glycyrrhiza glabra is another root that will form a mucilaginous gel to help heal your gut. It is also an adaptogenic herb meaning it will help you better cope with the stress of this time. This powder also works great as a prebiotic (feed your good gut bacteria) and can easily be added to recipes such as bliss balls.
A practical tip that may be useful for eating healthfully at this time: bring a healthy option for everyone to enjoy at the gatherings you go to - whether it be a nourishing salad, some home-baked deserts, a super simple platter or snack, your hosts will thank you! If you’d like something incredibly easy to create and bring, which is delicious and healthy - try the recipe below.
RECIPE: CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATE BARK
- 2 blocks dark chocolate (I love lindt 85% cocoa) - this may be substituted for vegan chocolate, if preferred
- Handful of almonds, roughly chopped
- Handful of pepitas
- The seeds of half a pomegranate
- Fill a small pot about 3/4 of the way with water, and warm on the stove (stove on low)
- On top, place a bowl (that sits without you holding it) and add the chocolate
- While it melts, line a small baking tray with baking paper
- Once all the chocolate is smooth and completely melted, pour onto the baking paper in the tray, spreading it evenly.
- Add your toppings to the chocolate - pepitas, almonds, and pomegranate fruit.
- Allow to set in the fridge (20 minutes)
- Remove from the fridge and peel off the baking paper. Roughly chop the chocolate into rustic looking pieces, add to a plate and serve!