Come December, it seems like everywhere you turn there's holiday baking, eggnog lattes or a pastry looking right at you. If you're worried you'll fall off track with your health during the holidays by indulging in a few treats, I have good news: You can still enjoy your favorite foods without sabotaging your wellness goals.
You can easily promote weight management and avoid weight gain by continuing to eat
You see, rather than feeling like you've "fallen off the wagon" after eating a few sugary snacks or a rich, heavy meal, you can apply the "80/20 rule" to your diet, rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach.
How the 80/20 Rule Promotes Weight Management (And Prevents You From Feeling Deprived)
The "80/20" rule simply recommends that 80% of the time, you eat unprocessed, nutrient dense foods, such as quality proteins, leafy greens, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats, while the other 20% of the time leaves room for having the occasional treat. (Hello, Granny's homemade shortbread.)
When your diet consists mostly of nutritious foods, not only are you less likely to gain weight over the
Not only does the 80/20 rule promote weight management, but also it can also motivate you to stick to a healthier lifestyle even throughout the holidays. When you don't feel deprived of enjoying your favorite treats once in awhile, you're more likely to continue to choose healthier options because eating nutritious foods will feel less like a diet.
Many whole foods act like "superfoods" because they provide antioxidant vitamins, minerals and other detoxifying nutrients to the body, such as fiber. Fiber is an essential nutrient for weight management because it keeps you feeling fuller for longer periods of time and helps reduce cravings for starchy carbs or sugar.
Not only do these superfoods help eliminate toxins, but also they provide essential nutrients for energy healthy digestion and blood sugar balance. These are all important factors when it comes to feeling your best during the holidays (and
Which superfoods will you want to add to your grocery list this holiday season? Here are 7 superfoods to promote weight management during the holidays.
Avocados are a high-fat food, but that's a good thing!
Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are healthy fats that promote cardiovascular health.
Although fat has been condemned in the past, monounsaturated fatty acids actually help reduce systemic inflammation caused by sugar, trans fats and chronic stress (1).
As a healthy fat, avocados also help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Healthy fats are needed to properly absorb a class of nutrients that act as antioxidants called carotenoids, which are found in sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers, carrots and leafy greens (2).
One carotenoid you might be familiar with is lutein, which is an essential nutrient for healthy vision. Lutein is found primarily in kale, spinach, swiss chard and dandelion greens.
Because avocados are also high in fiber, they'll keep your appetite satisfied for longer periods of time and balance your blood sugar levels (1). This makes avocados (or guacamole) the perfect pre-holiday shopping snack to energize you and tie over your appetite until dinner.
You can add avocado to grilled turkey breast sandwiches, and top your soups and salads with a few avocado slices. The creamy texture of avocados makes a great base for a healthy chocolate mousse or pudding, such as in Chlorella Chocolate Avocado Pudding.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil was once thought to be a health and wellness saboteur because it's a saturated fat. However, the saturated fats in coconut oil are medium chain fatty acids, which your body uses for energy right away. This means they don't get stored as fat the way long-chain fatty acids (which are found in full-fat dairy products and red meat) do.
One of the reasons why coconut oil is considered a superfood is because of a specific type of medium chain fatty acid it contains called lauric acid. Lauric acid has antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, which help keep your gut healthy and might help build up your immune system (3).
Because the fats in coconut oil take a different pathway to be metabolized than long-chain fats, it's also believed that they help the body burn fat more efficiently and improve your metabolism. With fat being the slowest nutrient to digest, it also keeps your appetite full and satisfied the same way fiber does.
Coconut oil is safe to cook with on high temperatures and can be added to your herbal tea or coffee and as a substitute for butter or vegetable oils in baking recipes.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
If you need some relief after a holiday feast, I highly recommend taking a swig (or two) of ACV.
Apple cider vinegar contains a special nutrient called acetic acid, which is a byproduct of the fermentation process of apples to vinegar. Acetic acid mimics the pH of stomach acid, which can help improve digestion, relieve symptoms of acid reflux and bloating, and improve protein absorption (4).
Now, one of the most important factors in natural weight loss and promoting weight management is to have efficient digestion. If your digestion is sluggish, toxins and waste are more likely to accumulate in your digestive tract, which contributes to weight gain.
Research also suggests apple cider vinegar can help balance blood sugar levels and reduce the blood sugar spikes that result from eating refined carbohydrates (5).
You can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to warm lemon water before meals to improve your digestion and promote weight management. You can also add apple cider vinegar to your holiday recipes, such as hot apple cider, or bone broth.
4. Wild Salmon
Sure, wild salmon doesn't quite taste the same as a turkey dinner. But wild salmon is rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids and lean protein, which are two essential nutrients for weight management.
The protein in salmon helps keep your blood sugar levels stabilized, which helps keep your body in a fat-burning mode, opposed to a fat-storage mode. Balanced blood sugar levels also promote
The omega-3 essential fatty acids found in salmon can also help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation (6). Eating wild salmon two to three times per week is enough to increase the omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet. If you're a meat eater, you can alternate wild salmon with other lean sources of protein, such as organic chicken, organic eggs or turkey breast.
Whenever possible, choose wild salmon over farmed salmon to avoid absorbing toxic environmental pollutants, such as dioxins, that are found in the water farmed salmon swim in (7).
Quinoa is one of the few plant foods to contain all 9 essential amino acids, which makes it one of the best sources of plant-based protein.
Although quinoa is commonly thought to be a grain, it's actually a seed that's more closely related to the spinach family.
With a light, fluffy texture and slightly nutty taste, quinoa makes an ideal side-dish substitute for other grains such as white rice, which have a higher glycemic load and might raise your blood sugar levels.
Quinoa also contains several antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E, which helps protect the body against free-radical damage from toxins found in processed foods and the environment. Quinoa also contains quercetin, which is an antioxidant that may help reduce inflammation.
Quinoa makes a delicious addition to salads, soups, stews and holiday casseroles. You can also use quinoa as a replacement
Quinoa can be purchased in bulk at your local health food store and is easy to make. All you need to do is boil 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water and simmer. Why not throw some quinoa on the stove while your favorite holiday movie plays in the background?
6. Pears and Apples
Pears and apples are in season during the fall and make an excellent snack because they're high in fiber.
Pears and apples also contain several antioxidant vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, which help detox your body naturally and keep your cells healthy.
Because fiber helps sweep your digestive system clean by acting as an intestinal broom, eating an apple or pear each day is a great way to promote bowel regularity, and therefore, weight management.
Sauteing apples and pears in some coconut oil and cinnamon makes a warm, comforting (and healthy) sweet treat in the winter.
Note: We recommend organic pears and apples to avoid ingesting the pesticides found on non-organic fruit.
7. Cruciferous Vegetables
During holiday dinners, be sure to add at least one cruciferous veggie side dish to your plate such as broccoli, cabbage or brussels sprouts. Cruciferous veggies support your liver with phase II liver detoxification. Phase II liver detox is when your liver is getting ready to eliminate toxins, such as alcohol, from your body (8).
By supporting the health of your liver through natural body detox, cruciferous veggies also promote hormone balance. Because your hormones are chemical messengers that control nearly every function in your body, healthy hormones are essential for a speedy metabolism and weight management.
Should You Take Nutritional Supplements Over the Holidays?
Certain whole food supplements can act as an "insurance policy" over the holidays, especially when you're indulging more than you normally would. By taking an herbal supplement that's high in antioxidant vitamins and minerals, you'll offer your body extra nutritional support during times that nutrients are lacking in your diet.
My top supplement recommendation for nutritional support during the holidays is chlorella.
Chlorella, the amazing green superfood, is a single-celled green
Chlorella also helps promote detoxification through a natural process called chelation. Chelation helps remove toxins from the body by allowing a certain food or substance to bind to heavy metals that get stuck in our tissues (such as lead or mercury) and safely remove them from the body.
You can add chlorella to your diet by taking Sun Chlorella® tablets as a
As you can see, staying on track with your health during the holidays is as easy as eating foods that help promote blood sugar balance and detoxification. Although these superfoods have amazing health benefits, any whole, unprocessed food you eat will benefit your health goals and promote a healthy weight.
It's always important to check in with a licensed healthcare practitioner before adding a nutritional supplement to your diet.
About Brandi Black, RHN
Brandi Black is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from Vancouver, B.C. Experiencing her own health challenges at a young age led her to become passionate about educating on the healing properties of food, and how to achieve hormone balance, clear skin and sustainable weight loss naturally. In her spare
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