How I Keep the Holidays Healthy (And You Can Too!)

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There is so much to look forward to this time of year such as seeing family, gift giving, and preparing treats (and eating said treats). But there are a lot of terrible things about the holiday season.

Many of us overindulge on food that leads us towards disease vs optimal wellness. And *sigh* the preparation for the holidays such as shopping, wrapping, cooking and baking! We do all of this while still maintaining our work schedule and taking care of our families. To say the holidays contribute to our stress load is an understatement.

However, we can emerge healthier and more refreshed into 2018 if we are smart during the holidays. I'm going to share with you how every year I'm the same weight come January, I don't feel drained, and my resilience to stress is just the same as it is the rest of the year.

Some of this might make me sound a bit like a scrooge or a party pooper. But I assure you, these things keep me balanced, allow me to be myself, and enable me to carry joy around to spread to others. And they can do the same for you.

 

I SIMPLIFY and say 'No'

I get that we want to do a lot to make this time of year special (especially for kids), but you don't have to go nuts buying more decorations, buying and making gifts for everyone you know, or slaving away in the kitchen... Baking cookies for the neighbors, your mail carrier, pies for this event, rumballs for that event-- you don't have to commit to it all

Online shopping vs shopping in stores has been one of the BEST saving graces for me in this day and age. Avoiding crowds is one of my life missions! (Here's the sensitive INFJ/ISFJ coming out). 

Choose the few holiday rituals you hold sacred and involve the ones closest to you. For me, the hubby and I love putting on Christmas music, drinking a holiday beverage of sorts, and decorating the tree together (he especially loves this because he's of a Jewish background and didn't grow up with it). 

Commit to what you feel you can handle while keeping your sanity. 'No' is always an acceptable answer without having to explain yourself for turning down a party or bringing baked goods. For the neighbors or postal worker, a nice card with a personal note showing you remember something about them or are grateful for them for a special reason... that can mean more than baked goods (which they all probably have enough of anyways). 

 

I stay committed to the rituals that keep me grounded, eating well, and feeling well.

In the past I've allowed traveling to unravel my self care. Then a few years ago I decided that not feeling great when it was all said and done wasn't worth it. 

I continue to practice qigong and meditate... they may not always be able to be at the same time of day, but I still provide myself with that sacred space. This keeps me grounded. 

Alone time is huge for me (INFJ/ ISFJ here) and I take it when I need it. I find ways to have it. Last year when my sister took the kids to church Christmas Eve, I offered to stay back and cook... it was as much for me as it was for her. 

Whatever helps to keep you grounded, commit to it. It could be getting coffee with an old friend you only see once a year. Find that space that keeps you grounded and don't be afraid to ask for it.

 

I eat what I want to eat

No joke. I don't WANT to eat the crap many tend to eat around this time of year because if I do, I'll feel like sh*t. So when I say I eat what I want to eat, I WANT to eat HEALTHY and what makes me feel good. 

Cookies I just don't eat- unless I've made them myself with ingredients that are clean and simple. The little cakes, pies, quiches, tarts, tortes, 'taters... no thanks. I love you, Mom, but no thanks. Chocolate dipped pretzels with eyes and antlers made to look like Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer? I appreciate the effort, but nope. Egg nogg? In the words of 'Sara with no "h" 'cuz h's are ew!'- EW! (Hey, hey to my fellow Jimmy Fallon fans!). 

Okay, so what do I eat at a holiday dinner? Mostly, I eat what I would normally eat. Plant-based, low-fat, whole-foods. So last year for Christmas when my family had mashed potatoes (with butter, milk and cheese), green bean casserole (with those odd canned fried onions beloved by so many), and ham- I made a pumpkin soup (yes, from an actual pumpkin) and creamed kale (using coconut milk) with onions and nutmeg. And some of my family enjoyed these healthier options, too! Whichever food lifestyle you are committed to, plan ahead and find ways to incorporate it... even if you're a guest and the host makes everything... bring a dish that will help you stay on your plan.

For dessert when they all had pumpkin pie and cherry cheesecake, I simply had healthy dark chocolate (soy, dairy, and refined sugar free of course!). It sounds boring and normally at home I would make something like date, coconut, and pecan rolls. But I was traveling and that was just what was easy. 

I know it sounds somewhat boring, but like I said, I eat what I want to eat. And I want to eat to feel good! However, I do consider what my family will eat. One of my nieces actually LOVES pumpkin soup so I really enjoyed making it for her (and my sister and husband loved it, too). So the love was still there, you know? It wasn't just for me.

Plan ahead. If you know your weakness is pie, make room for it. Eat really clean, but allow yourself that pie and savor it. 

Don't get down on yourself if you did overindulge. Just move forward and stick with your plan as best you can. 

 

I incorporate MOVEMENT when I can.

Aaron and I always find time to take walks. It's nice getting away from a loud house filled with screaming kids, loud toys, and a house full of people for days at a time. 

I commit to practice yoga some mornings... although I do it in the middle of the day at home, it's much easier while the house is still quiet. 

Perhaps there is a family member who will also commit to some form of exercise with you. Back in the day, my sister and I used to run together at least once during the holidays.

Like I said, incorporate MOVEMENT, it doesn't have to be a structured fitness routine. Play with the kids. Bench press the toddlers. Stretch. Move your body around anyway you can... you'll feel better getting the blood and qi flowing.

 

I'm okay being the different one, the one they all know won't eat this or that and has her own thing going on in the kitchen. I am who I am, proudly! 

Keep this in mind and arrive into 2018 with confidence, feeling vibrant, and ready to begin a new year. Your body will thank you then and it will thank you later.

 

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful, joyous, and loving holiday season <3

To your health and healing,

Mandi 

 
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Roasted Poblano & Potato Soup

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I don't pretend to be a food blogger (I don't even own a camera for respectable photos!), but it's my duty to you as a health coach to provide you with all of the necessary information you need to make good decisions about your health. People always ask, "What should I be eating?" Well, if I post a recipe, you can be certain that it's 100% health coach approved. 

Plus, I LOVE to create in the kitchen... it's my only creative outlet. Creativity is something many adults let slip away from them as they get older. I know mine did for a while there, but I got it back. Creativity is important for a balanced spirit. (Fun fact: did you know I used to have a small nutrition bar business 'Mandibites'?)

So when I create something worth sharing in the kitchen, I'll provide you with the recipe and the health benefits.

Now, on to the fun stuff!

Potatoes are one of those foods that have gotten a bad reputation. They're full of carbs and they've been categorized as a "white food."

I avoided white potatoes for about 7 years while paleo. Turns out, I was missing out on the amazing nourishment they contain such as L-lysine, vitamin B-6, and high in quercetin, an anti-cancer and cardio protective anti-oxidant. Learn more about the health benefits of the potato here.

Truth is, they're only not great when combined with heavy fat and heavy protein. This is not an ideal situation for the liver that has to work twice as hard to digest all that jazz at once.

Plus, they're a brown food because of the skin. Are barlette or bosc pears considered white? No. Green and brown respectively. Also, white is a beneficial color in the spectrum of colorful fruits and vegetables. Cauliflower, garlic, onion, turnips, radishes, daikon, celeriac, rutabaga, and coconut... all white on the inside. And all full of health benefits.  

If you can't stand the thought of eating white potatoes without milk, butter, cheese, or stuffed with animal protein, this soup is for you.

This soup is perfect for the fall because it's the season of metal in Chinese Medicine, where the color is white (potatoes are both metal from the white and earth from the brown) and the flavor is pungent (spice from the poblano). 

I hope you enjoy this soup knowing it's nourishing you on so many levels!

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Link to vegetable broth (This one has the best ingredients for a store bought broth. May be more affordable at your local store.)

 Link to vegetable broth recipe

 

To your health and healing,

Mandi

 
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7 Ways to Nourish your Body, Mind, & Spirit this Autumn

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When autumn arrives, it brings with it cooler weather, colorful leaves, and a comfort that the exuberant bustle of summer has come to an end.

Autumn is the time for us to take a look at both our environment and inside ourselves, identify what we should cherish and keep, and what we need to let go of.

Just like a tree hangs on to it's branches, but decides it's time to let go of it's leaves in preparation for winter.

Autumn is associated with the metal element in Chinese Medicine. The metal organs are Lung and Large Intestine, the color is white, and the emotions are grief and sadness.

It's helpful for our health and well being to be in tune with the sun, the moon, and our planet and it's seasons.

Here are 7 ways to nourish your body, mind, and spirit this autumn.

 

1. Do an Autumn Clearing... Externally.

Scraping away the dirt and clutter reveals the gems and metals, the precious elements. 

Go through your home and office and get rid of things you no longer have a use for, find beautiful or inspirational. With the only pause being a moment of gratitude for the purpose an item did serve us, and then letting it go gracefully. 

You're left with only the essentials and beautiful items that inspire you. 

 

2. Do an Autumn Clearing... Internally.

Complete a number of journal sessions focusing on emotions, particularly try to identify any emotional patterns that are negative to you or your relationships. 

Are we holding on to any grudges? Do we have any habits that we started with good intention that just are not healthy or producing good results? 

Also try to identify all things that are not useful or contributing to your life or your health and create new patterns and agreements in it's place.

 

3. Add Pungent Foods and White Foods

You've heard "eat the rainbow." This also goes for white foods such as daikon radishes, turnips, and cauliflower.

Add pungent foods such as herbs and spices. Garlic (also white!) onion (also can be white!), ginger, thyme, rosemary, sage, mustard, and radishes. These foods are especially good at supporting the immune system, which is always a good idea when the weather changes and as we approach winter and colder weather.

Also enjoy foods in season such as fresh figs, apples, pears and winter squash. 

 

4. Do as the Sun Does

The amount of daylight decreases... it stays darker later in the morning and gets darker earlier at night. This is a sign from nature that slowing down after the summer and resting more is what our bodies need to stay balanced and healthy.

If you can, sleep when the sun sleeps and rise when the sun rises. Stay in most nights after the sun goes down and spend time resting and connecting with your loved ones.

 

5. Breathe Intentionally

The lungs and large intestine are the organs of the season. Take time to do intentional breathing exercises daily to support the lungs. 

My favorite is done lying on the back with one hand on the belly and the other on the chest.

Follow a square breathing pattern of 4-4-4-4: 4 seconds inhale through the nose, hold for 4, exhale through the nose for 4, hold for 4.

A really nice alternative is to follow this pattern, but extend the exhale to 8-11 seconds out pursed lips. The bonus of this is you'll be activating your parasympathetic nervous system which is always a healthy thing to do (also activates the immune system!).

 

6. Get a Colonic

Since autumn is the lung and large intestine time of year, it's the best time of year to support your colon with colon hydrotherapy (which I talk more about in the blog post Methods of Natural and Alternative Medicine I Love: Part 1). Colonics are safe when done sparingly. 

 

7. Find Balanced structure... either from chaos or rigidity.

We all have one dominant characteristic of each of 5 Elements (Metal, Earth, Fire, Wood, and Water) but we also have characteristics of all of them.

The metal element in balance is fair, has integrity, and is structured. The metal element out of balance turns into authoritativeness, hypocrisy, and rigidity. (from AgelessHerbs.com).

Have you lost balance with the structure of your life, your day, or your work? Have you become too rigid or controlling in certain relationships? Now is the time of year to forgive yourself and get in touch with the metal element. 

 

To your health and healing,

Mandi

 
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