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Tips to indulge healthily this holiday season!

How to make the most of festive meals without regretting it!

by Tiphanie Tueni, Naturopath in Paris 16, Passy - La Muette

The holiday season is a tricky time meal wise - we’re tempted to overeat and over drink. Then comes the new year and the next thing we know we’re taking resolutions to detox in order to feel lighter ! What a roller coaster for our digestive glands and endocrine system !

To make the most of festivities without regrets, here are a few tips which can also be put into practice on other occasions throughout the year :

  • Before the festive meal don’t starve yourself - if you’re hungry that morning, start the day with some fresh fruit. Chew them mindfully in order to get the most of the nutrients and enzymes; half an hour later, if you’re feeling hungry, have some protein such as a soft boiled egg and eventually a small slice of wholewheat bread with raw butter, ideally all organic. I’ll explain the benefits of eating eggs in the morning in another post.

  • For lunch, have some vegetables (raw or steamed) and a light source of protein such as white meat or fish. Avoid eating too many carbs so as not to delay digestion - save them for the evening and if you can’t, stick to gluten free carbs such as sweet potatoes, whole grain or Camargue rice.

  • 2 to 3 hours before the meal, have some fresh fruits OR a handful of oleaginous fruits such as unsalted pistachios, walnuts, pecans or almonds, rich in protein and fiber, so you’ll reach out less for the industrial salted snacks. Don't mix fruits (fresh or dried) with nuts (see below to understand why).

  • During the afternoon, if you feel like eating something sweet, go for a square of raw chocolate or a piece of organic candied ginger. You'll notice that you won't crave sweets as much come desert time in the evening.

  • An hour before, drink a glass of water that has a low mineral content.

  • During the meal: avoid drinking water so as not to dilute digestive enzymes. If possible, start your meal with a few raw veggies.

I'm not keen on being too strict nor totally excluding certain types of food. Instead, I prefer focusing on quality and healthier alternatives. We're allowed to be high maintenance with what we put in our bodies ! 

  • When drinking, sip slowly and mindfully - if you drink too much too fast, you’ll be less mindfull of your sensations and eat more… Select a glass of organic, natural or biodynamic red wine which is certified with Demeter and Biodyvin labels, instead of glasses of conventionnel red wine which are loaded with pesticides and added sulfur dioxide.

I'm not keen on being too strict or totally excluding certain types of food. Instead, I prefer focusing on quality. We're allowed to be high maintenance with what we put in our bodies!

Favour healthier alternatives to conventional foods :

  • Choose raw goat’s or sheep’s milk cheese instead of pasteurized cow’s milk cheese because of its high content in growth factors - great for the veal which has to grow 8 times its size in the first year of its life; less great for human cells ! Not to mention the lactose and casein, which is not necessarily properly digested by everyone. If possible, select organic or AOC labelled cheeses.

  • Regarding butter, go for an organic, raw version which contains lactic bacteria and A and E vitamins.  

  • Choose organic bread made from small spelt, GMO free corn flour, chestnut flour or wholewheat bread made with natural leaven over conventional white flour bread which has lost any nutritional value. 

  • With regards meat, either purchase organically or naturally fed livestock or meat that's labelled Bleu-Blanc-Coeur, which is guaranteed to have a higher content of omega 3. These alternatives are more expensive, so you might want to favour quality over quantity.

  • If you feel like something sweet at the end of the meal, try that square of raw chocolate or candied ginger instead of conventional chocolate/sweets/deserts filled with pro-inflammatory trans fats. Alternatively, if you know the yule log (also known as the bûche de Noël) comes from an amazing pâtissier, go ahead and have a taste. In any case, make a choice, stick to it and bare in mind that you have every right to be choosy !r

The following healthy habits are easy to follow and can make a big difference in the way you feel after a meal :

  • Make choices or stick to small portions so as not to feel deprived. If you ingest important quantities of foie gras, smoked salmon and cheese, your liver might not tolerate such a big amount of fats. A good trick to manage portions is to include some raw or steamed vegetables in between mouthfuls.  

  • Don’t end your meal with fruits or fruit desserts - because under normal circumstances they're digested fairly quickly, they’d ferment and cause indigestion if mixed with other food groups !

  • Put your cutlery down in between mouthfuls and try to avoid talking whilst eating so as to avoid ingesting air.

  • Say no thank you to coffee and yes please to an organic ginger or fennel tea. Coffee is acidifying and a digestive inhibitor which causes the gastric pyloric sphincter to open up so that food which is not yet fully digested enters the duodenum (small intestine) prematurely.

  • Whatever happens, eat mindfully, enjoying the flavours of every mouthful and chewing fully, keeping in mind what Gandhi said: « drink your solids and eat your liquids »

Lastly, if you fall off the wagon, be gentle with yourself - tomorrow is another day and a new opportunity to start afresh and be healthy !

Happy holiday

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