My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

22 Nov 2013

10 Steps to Healthy Holidays (Article)

Nu-Vitality's "Healthy Holiday Eating" workshop has been completely revamped for 2013! It's jam-packed with practical advice to help ward off the extra 6 pounds typically gained over the holidays and comes with some good suggestions for dealing with the 'morning after' symptoms, too!

The holiday season is a time of excess - overspending, overindulging in unhealthy food and alcohol, more socializing than usual, and more stress on the body, mind, and wallet. Keep your budget and your waistline under control this season with these suggestions:

1. Take B vitamins. Don't skimp on your vitamins during the holidays. The excess calories, most of them empty, create a need for even more nutrients. B vitamins are especially critical during the holidays to manage the added stress. A B-complex supplement taken with meals supplies the vitamins necessary to make brain chemicals. Dark leafy greens, whole grains, beans and lentils provide B vitamins. Ensure that your meals also include protein (which is needed to make neurotransmitters) and magnesium.

2. Load up on green. Green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, supply vitamins, minerals, roughage, and enzymes. Eating a raw salad of mixed greens before each meal -- or as a meal -- fills your tummy and promotes good digestion. Steamed greens help to prevent constipation and are an excellent source of minerals.

3. Go raw for a day.
Choose a day each week to eat (and drink) only raw food. There are plenty of foods to enjoy raw: fresh, colorful salads, nuts, seeds, juices, sprouted beans, and even raw chocolate (cacao beans). If you enjoy cooking, experiment with different recipes, such as 'raw apple pie' or 'raw lasagna.' You'll feel lighter and more energized, and your scale will thank you for it come January. If the idea doesn't appeal to you, instead, start each day with a delicious fresh-pressed vegetable cocktail.

4. Keep moving. There's so much to do, so little time. Something has to give, and it's usually exercise. While your routine may be disrupted, sneak in a few minutes of exercise every day. Whether it's sit ups before bed, squats while blow-drying your hair, or picking up the pace while walking through the shopping mall, a few minutes of movement several times a day will result in less time in the gym after the holidays. When you do make it to the gym, maximize your time with interval training -- alternating intense bursts of activity with slower activity.

5. Take probiotics. A daily probiotic supplement, as well as eating probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt and kefir, will help to combat the effects of overindulging in sugar, breads, and other carbs. Keep a container of organic plain and flavored yogurt handy for a healthy mid-meal snack. If you're hankering for a snack before bedtime, half a cup of plain yogurt will satiate your appetite and help you to sleep soundly.

6. Don't eat out. Typical holiday fare served at social gatherings and family dinners provides fewer nutrients and more calories and fat than homemade meals. During the holidays, when you aren't socializing with family or friends, eat all of your meals at home. Make your meals from scratch to save money and calories.

7. Focus on fiber. Beans, lentils, greens, and vegetables are a yummy, low-cal way to fill your belly (which, like Santa, might be shaking like a bowl full of jelly by January if you aren't careful!) and promote healthy bowels.

8. Cut back. During this time of excess, save the bread, potatoes, crackers, alcohol, and all sweets for the holiday parties. Avoid eating them at home or work.

9. Drink water, not calories. Avoid calorie-laden eggnog, alcohol, and juice and drink even more water than usual during the holidays. Water will help to control your appetite as well as hydrate your skin in the harsher weather. A fresh-pressed vegetable juice with some fruit mixed in is a healthy exception.

10. Be grateful. The holidays are stressful, but they're also a time for sharing, giving, and spending time with friends and family. Take a moment before each meal and before drifting off to sleep to give thanks for all your blessings.

Updated Nov. 2013

Published on Canoe.ca and in The New Citizens Press