Practitioner Corner: A Healthier Holiday for Your Clients
If you made it past Thanksgiving without over-indulging on starches, chocolates, and sweets, good for you! Next up? Yikes, it is the beginning of the long holiday season of family gatherings, parties – and more sweets! This is the time of year when many of your clients traditionally do a bit too much, “Gobble, Gobble – and more Wobble, Wobble!” Along with the quantity of food they might choose to eat, let’s just say that the quality might just be an issue as well…
So here are some simple words of advice that you can share with clients this month…
As their “go to” health expert, share this wisdom up front. Send an email or newsletter, or post these 4 tips out on your social media. Your clients will thank you for reminding them to use some caution this time of year!
Tip #1: Eat from “your routine diet menu” as much as possible
There is a reason your client doesn’t drink cow’s milk, eat gluten – or gorge on sugar cookies!
Food sensitivities do not take the holidays off!
They know how that makes them feel afterwards. Perhaps you were even instrumental in helping them identify those issues! If your clients have food sensitivities, those aren’t going to just disappear over the holidays! So if they consume foods that they normally avoid, they are going to suffer the same negative consequences. They’ll have the skin breakouts, gas and bloating, or whatever other symptoms they used to get BEFORE they removed that food item from their daily menu!
Suggest to clients that they create their own little holiday “mantra”. A list of taboo food items along with their resultant allergic symptoms! Have them recite that prior to holiday engagements. Remind them how some forbidden foods, like dairy, find their way into many holiday meals and treats. They'll thank you for the nudge.
Blood sugar concerns are amplified with all of the holiday temptations!
If your client is normally focused on their blood sugar levels, like most of us need to be, that just can’t be neglected over the holidays! Sure, people can cheat a bit, but they still need to focus on what they are eating, and stick to their usual blood sugar balancing foods and eating time table.
Remind your clients to test themselves daily. Here is some info you can share with them about what they should look for when testing their blood sugar.
Some tricks I recommend that might help people keep on track:
- Always eat a healthy, blood sugar stabilizing snack prior to attending a holiday dinner or party. It will help balance anything “bad” you might eat later, and you’ll likely eat less as well.
- Sharing a dish? Bring a blood sugar stabilizing side-dish, such as roasted brussels sprouts or cauliflower mashed potatoes, or whatever your favorite veggie dish is.
- Or better yet, bring a nice blood sugar friendly dessert so you can indulge without spiking your blood sugar levels. Try this Mint Chocolate recipe…yummy!
Don’t forget to stay extra hydrated! For the record, you can’t hydrate your body’s cells via alcohol. Alcohol also inhibits stomach digestion and causes intestinal permeability. It spikes your blood sugar levels, and may just cause you to regret telling Aunt Susan that you hated her very special dish that she proudly brings every year!
Tip #2: Get yourself into “holiday preventative mode” NOW
Since you KNOW your clients are entering a challenging time period, now is the time to focus on prevention! Remind them to treat their gut to more probiotics (check out some of my favorite natural probiotics here), including adding fermented foods to their diet.
They should also attempt to stick to their usually healthy circadian cycle, including a good night’s sleep of at least 7 hours. It is so important to maintain healthy digestion and overall health. Poor sleep can lead to lowered immunity, increased inflammation, increased insulin sensitivity, inefficient fat burning, and an increased risk for disease. Read some tips that you can share with your clients about how to get a better night’s sleep here.
A poor night’s sleep can actually cause your client's body to have cravings! That is something no one needs over the holidays. Studies have shown that cravings for foods like cookies and bread increased as much as 45% after a few nights of poor sleep!
Stress management is also key to keeping digestion humming along. Your clients need to activate their body’s “rest and digest” mode. They need to learn to relax and enjoy the “art of the meal.” Meals are more than just the “Gobble, gobble!” Enjoy the companionship you have during a meal. Appreciate the smells, textures, and colors of your food. Have a conversation. Listen to others’ story-telling. Be thankful, and reflect on where each food item came from, and who might have worked to bring it to your local farmers' market for you to now enjoy.
In fact, now is a good time to remind your clients about HeartMath™ techniques. Continuing their usual activity levels and exercising over the holidays is also important for stress-management, too. Give them an adult-friendly coloring book as a holiday gift! They are known to be great for stress.
Tip #3: Prepare for the Gorge!?
Best advice is, of course, not to gorge. But there are also other things people can do to help digest that large, or otherwise unhealthy, meal.
- Take a moment before you dig in: Breathe deeply a few times and take the moment in. As mentioned above, focus on the companionship and ENJOY the entire aspect of the meal. Compliment the hostess on the table presentation, floral arrangement, or background music!
- Be sure to eat a big helping of salad and other healthy intestinal supporting foods, especially veggies, which are filling, and also great at gut repair and detoxification. Some of my favorites? Green leafy veggies, dandelion (a wonderful green with many tremendous digestion benefits, including helping with bile flow and stomach acid production), brassicas (contain sulforaphane, a potent gut healer). My typical family Thanksgiving includes multiple large helpings of broccoli, along with chia and flax seeds (both mucilage-rich intestinal brooms).
- Take digestive bitters and digestive enzymes: Bitters help stimulate gastric acid secretion, as well as gastric motility. It also stimulates the production of stomach acid, and the enzymes help with the breakdown of the foods you eat. Dandelion greens are great for this.
- Take a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar before your meal.
- Chew your food! Really chew it. Your digestive tract does not have any teeth!
- Incorporate digestion-supporting spices. Many having carminative properties (anti-gas and bloating), such as ginger, cilantro, cardamom, and fennel seeds.
- Try some herbs that support the intestinal tract, such as triphala.
- Minimize sweets: Sorry, what can I say. Sugar damages the gut lining, and can lead to excess abdominal bloating and gas. Not to mention the impact to your blood sugar! “Sweets” includes all forms of sugar, including artificial sweeteners.
- Minimize refined foods: Dreaming of a “White” Christmas? NO…at least no white foods! These so-called foods are deficient in vitamins and minerals, imbalance your blood sugar, and feed all of those unfriendly gut microbes. They lack fiber, and are likely loaded with preservatives and artificial coloring, which many people have sensitivities to.
Tip #4: Recovery if your client chooses otherwise
OK, so your client ate too much of something that created an imbalance. Now what?
Suggest that they bring along their own tea. Great carminative teas include fennel or peppermint. I also love ginger tea with a little lemon. Or have your clients bring some cumin or fennel seeds and just chew on them. They could even just steep some mint leave in a warm glass of water. A glass of warm water with a bit of apple cider vinegar or lemon in it can be helpful, too.
If they forgot to take their digestive enzymes with their meal, make sure they know that they can still take them after dessert, to assist with their digestion.
And if your client shares digestive horror stories with you after the fact, help them to not feel judged. Just try and help them plan better for the next holiday function.
If you want to learn more about ways to help your clients, I encourage you to apply for the Nutritional Endocrinology Practitioner Training program. Here you will learn more about blood sugar balancing and gut repair protocols. We also provide you with tools you can use with your clients to help them feel supported.