5 Step Guide to A Clean, Healthy Holiday Season
Dr. Robin Berzin
The holidays are wonderful, with all the parties, vacation, family time, and general good cheer. But they are also a time when a lot of people go a little overboard when it comes to consumption, and find themselves ringing in the new year feeling stressed, toxic, or both. Most “holiday health tips” talk about “surviving,” which I think is pretty silly. Chances are you will survive, but what if you could emerge on January 1, not just alive, but thriving, feeling nourished in all the right ways, and totally energized for the new year. Here is a 5 Step Guide to making that happen while still having a really great time.
Detox Every Other Day
It works like this. Every other day is a day you don’t drink alcohol, eat sugar, eat processed foods, or eat dairy for 24 hours. It may sound hard, but this plan will keep you feeling clean and refreshed 50% of the time so you can indulge the other days without guilt and without building up the kind of toxicity that leaves you wiped out by the new year.
On your detox days you eat delicious home-cooked, mostly plant-based foods like coconut veggie curries, slow roasted salmon, big hearty salads, and my personal favorite - mashed avocado with sea salt on gluten free toast. It’s ideal if you also exercise in some way, and you prioritize getting a decent night’s sleep. You might even take an old school Epsom salt bath, which helps speed up the detoxification process. On the non-detox days you party and eat whatever you want, but you keep the ratio one to one. What if you have events two nights in a row you absolutely have to go to? Just build in a day before and a day after to detox to balance it out.
You can use the shakes, supplements, and recipes in my Table detox program to keep you on track. And I guarantee if you do this you will not only emerge from holiday season no worse for wear, you might even look and feel better than when you started.
Find Ways to Celebrate That Don’t Involve Alcohol
I love a good glass of red wine but the reality is boozing on a regular basis throughout the holidays takes a major toll. Ultimately too much alcohol makes you bloated and depressed.
Many paitents tell me that social plans get in the way of their intentions to drink less. I get it – I often feel the pressure to drink wine when I know I’d feel way better without it and events and friends can undermine my best laid plans.
But this is even more reason to take control and set up your holiday gatherings to be delicious but healthy. My strategies include meeting people for yoga dates, making reservations at vegetarian restaurants that don’t serve booze so there’s no pressure to order, and hosting parties where I serve healthy food that’s filling and delicious so no one feels deprived.
Make a Different Kind of Wish List
The holidays can be an emotional time. Lets be honest, spending lots of time with family or at company parties can be stressful. So can feeling like you don’t have anyone to celebrate with. Either way, it helps to take some time to reflect on your life in a non-judgmental way, and to generate a list of what you want to manifest.
This isn’t the time to beat yourself up or focus on what you lack. It’s the time to think about what matters to you. List out what you’re grateful for and ask the universe to send you what you need in a light and enthusiastic tone of voice, rather than a serious, heavy or complaining way. Taking time out for this kind of reflection is powerful and can be life changing but we are not often encouraged to do it. But the holidays can be when we most need it. I like to take a few minutes on New Year’s Eve to make my lists of what I’m grateful for and what I want to manifest in the New Year. I also list what I don’t need anymore. People and stuff that no longer serve us have a way of staying past their due dates and sometimes we have to energetically or literally ask them to leave.
If there is something playing a bigger role in your life than you need, whether its sugar, alcohol, or a relationship, ask yourself if there is something else that can make you feel as relaxed, happy, fulfilled, energized and confident as that thing, that is also healthy. If you draw a blank make it your mission to find it.
Celebrate the New Year by Giving Your Body a Gift
I could be a spa day or a massage. Or it could be dinner for you and a friend at a yummy healthy restaurant. Or maybe it’s a fitness class you normally wouldn’t splurge on. Perhaps you go all out and instead of watching the ball drop you take off for a yoga retreat in Costa Rica! That’s my dream New Year’s Eve! Whatever it is, it is good to remind ourselves that “treating yourself” can include treats that are fulfilling, nourishing and detoxifying, and the holidays are one of the best times to do just that.
Choose Gifts That Hold Meaning over Monetary Value
One of the ways we pile on the stress during the holidays is what I call forced shopping. We all feel pressured to spend money on stuff for friends and family, but really it’s about sharing love and offering what’s important to you. I recommend giving things that you can tell a story about, whether it’s about who made it, where it comes from, or your personal relationship to it. This year my husband and I have been on the road a lot so we are giving gifts inspired by our travels. From Bhutanese scarves to naturally fermented organic wines we learned about in Germany, the gifts aren’t necessarily expensive but they all have a place in the world that has meaning to us and it feels good to share that meaning with family. (And if you need some local inspiration, Zady does an amazing job of connecting things with stories and people. It’s one of the reasons I’m proud to be Zady’s health and wellness contributor).
Health is a lifestyle, and each choice you make from where you shop to what you eat contributes.
Robin Berzin MD is a functional medicine doctor and the founder of Parsley Health, an innovative, high tech, and affordable functional medicine practice in New York City. She is also the creator of Table, the first flexible detox program that gives people the tools to eat for optimal health. Robin went to medical school at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and has studied yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. As a functional medicine doctor her approach addresses the root cause of disease, instead of covering up the symptom, and she uses a toolkit that includes best practices from around the world, from the most cutting edge lab tests to diet and lifestyle change, as well as natural supplements and botanical medicines.