How To Have Yourself A Healthy Holiday Season


Thanksgiving and Christmas is a wonderful time of year for fellowship, family, and of course food. Unfortunately, it can be extremely detrimental to our health.

For instance, one study found that holiday food can have a year-round detrimental effect on the health of diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals.

“The present study demonstrates an influence of winter holidays on the glycemic control of patients who have type 2 diabetes, and this poor glycemic control might not be reversed during the summer and autumn months. Therefore, the cumulative effects of the yearly A1C gain during the winter holidays are likely to contribute to the substantial increase in A1C that occurs every year among type 2 diabetic individuals.”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14747208

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! It doesn’t even discuss the increase in flu sickness, increased exposure to genetically modified food, and more. So here’s how to have a healthy holiday season!

FOOD

Choosing a turkey:

Natural: Simply means that during processing, no artificial flavors, colorings, chemical preservatives were added. It’s likely the bird received antibiotics. The label “no hormones added” is misleading, because hormones are never given to poultry in the US. Once again, natural does not mean organic, it refers only to processing practices. Because natural does not mean organic, this is almost guaranteed to be an animal that was fed GMO’s.

Free Range: Also called free roaming or cage free. This title implies that the turkey was not caged 24/7 without sunlight. It does not mean organic or naturally processed. It simply refers to the birds mobility, and not it’s food, medical care, or processing. A bird that can freely move about has a stronger flavor and more substantial texture than a cage bound bird.  If it is not organic, it is almost guaranteed to be fed a diet full of GMO’s.

Organic: A turkey labeled as organic means that it was fed a certified organic diet and that many conventional practices such as the use of antibiotics was not used.  It also basically indicates that the turkey was not fed GMO’s (although there is some debate about this). It does not, however, mean that it was in a natural environment. Many organic turkeys are raised packed by the thousands in a large building just as conventional ones.  However, this is the best choice out of these three choices.  Although there IS one more choice that is better than all of them:

Local, organic, pastured: If you can purchase a turkey from a local farmer who raises the turkey in an outdoor environment with certified organic feed, this is the healthiest choice of all.  Or if you live in a state that has wild turkeys that law allows citizens to hunt, that is a healthy alternative as well! However, if you live in an area that has a lot of GMO corn/soybean fields, it may be better to purchase a turkey that is fed certified organic feed.

Turkey bone broth
Save those bones! This is Incredibly nutritious, with or without the feet!
http://www.urbanhomemaker.com/blog/?p=2174

 And while tryptophan in turkey is usually incorrectly blamed for post-holiday meal sleepiness, the real culprits may be overeating and the increase in sugar levels.  For those already susceptible to hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia symptoms related to a diet high in refined sugars/grains, they are much more likely to display symptoms of diabetes after consuming a traditional holiday meal.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

• Blurry vision
• Excess thirst
• Fatigue
• Frequent urination
• Hunger
• Weight loss

The reason flu and sickness increases during these months is a combination of factors, the main ones being the increased consumption of sugar and the decrease in vitamin D (sun exposure).

Sugar

Research found that consumption of refined sugar suppresses white blood cell function for up to 5 hours after consumption, thereby weakening the immune system.  So staying away from all those sugary desserts and opting for ones made with real, natural sweeteners is your best option for staying healthy through the holidays!  Here are some of our favorite recipes for the holiday season:

Honey-Sweetened Hot Chocolate
We love this quick recipe from Recipes to Nourish! When we don’t have raw cacao on hand, we use carob powder, which tastes like chocolate but doesn’t have caffeine. It’s a family tradition to do an annual drive-around-town looking at Christmas lights displays and sip a cup of hot cocoa in the van.
http://recipestonourish.blogspot.com/2011/10/honey-sweetened-hot-chocolate.html

10 Healthy Christmas Cookie Recipes
(Just be sure to use raw honey in place of agave.)
http://www.elanaspantry.com/10-healthy-christmas-cookie-recipes/

Easy 3-Ingredient Healthy Cranberry Sauce
Avoid the canned cranberry sauce full of high-fructose corn syrup and use this instead:
http://cookeatpaleo.com/paleo-cranberry-sauce/

My No-Sugar Challenge Pinterest board for lots of great cookie, cake, etc. recipes!
http://www.pinterest.com/HFFG/no-sugar-challenge/

 

In addition to refined sugar, here are some recipes and articles for a healthy holiday meal:

Toxins vs. Tradition–What Will Win On Your Thanksgiving Table by Food Babe
This is an excellent article showing all the chemicals and bad ingredients in conventional holiday foods.  There are also links and recipes for healthy alternatives.
http://foodbabe.com/2012/11/12/toxins-vs-tradition-what-will-win-on-your-thanksgiving-table/

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup
http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/homemade-cream-of-mushroom-soup

Reduce GMO Exposure at Thanksgiving
http://www.allergykids.com/blog/seven-steps-you-can-take-to-reduce-genetically-engineered-foods-at-thanksgiving/

 

CHRISTMAS TREE

Bringing either a chemical plastic Christmas tree or a chemically-treated real evergreen into the home during the cold months of winter affects many people’s health each year.  Some people react to the chemicals on the artificial trees; others react to the chemicals that are sprayed on “real” trees.

If you prefer the scent of a freshly-chopped evergreen tree, call your local tree farm ahead of time to inquire about the use of chemicals.  At our local Christmas Tree farm, they only spray the ones with long needles as those tend to lose their color faster, so we opt for a short-needled pine tree.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Keep in mind that Christmas lights pose another health hazard.  Studies found very high levels of toxic lead in Christmas lights.  You can read more about that here in my article about Christmas lights, as well as information on lead-free Christmas lights.  If you are going to do Christmas photos with your baby wrapped in Christmas lights, please especially use lead-free strands.

Also, if you use conventional Christmas lights, be sure to wash your hands after touching them, especially before eating and/or touching small children/babies.

 

ADDITIONAL TIPS

Some additional tips to stay healthy throughout the holiday season:

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas.  May the Spirit of our Savior be with you and yours throughout the year!

~Sara

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