Yes, it is possible to raise a glass (and a fork) with loved ones and actually wake up the next morning feeling great. Celeb nutritionist Kimberly Snyder explains how to stay healthy and happy over the holidays, the Ayurvedic way.
Food and holidays—can they really be separated? Realistically, probably not for most of us. Food evokes childhood memories, it’s the centerpiece of many festive traditions, and it serves as an anchor for holiday planning.
The good news is that you can celebrate with rich, warm, delicious food while still keeping healthy overall (and not stressing too much when you’re not perfect).
And to take it a step further, I’m going to give you some insight on how you can give your holidays an Ayurvedic twist. This will further ensure you feel your most energized and balanced—and your immunity stays high—while you enjoy all your festive gatherings with your loved ones.
Here’s how you can have a blast with friends and family while feeling and looking your best. (Bye-bye, bloat!)
What to eat
The holidays fall during the vata season, which in Ayurveda corresponds to the “wind” or “air” element. Earth veggies are very grounding during this time, and balance the extra “air” energy that, when unbalanced, can make us feel overly stressed, constipated, and with weakened immunity. Think root vegetables and sweet potato dishes for holiday dinners.
Ayurveda considers brown rice to be a very warming grain—perfect to eat during the cooler months—that corresponds with the holidays. And therefore it’s perfect for incorporating into dishes with vegetables to create filling, warming, comforting recipes. Try making a brown rice veggie casserole or simple stir-fry to put out with your spread.
And don’t forget to start with soups or stews, which are digestion-enhancing and internally warming when temperatures outside drop, like my Sunchoke and Beet Kitcheree or Sri Lankan Dahl. Soup featuring ginger (think carrot ginger soup, or just about any veggie soup with added ginger) is particularly fantastic, as Ayurveda believes that ginger helps to open up the detoxification channels of the body and boost immunity. Because who wants to be getting sick during all the holiday fun?
You can and should use a bit more coconut oil and whole fats in your cooking—but not too much more. Healthy foods such as sesame seeds, a favorite in Ayurvedic cooking and practices, are believed to keep the body lubricated, insulated, and warm. Seasonal herbs and spices include cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper.
What to drink
When it comes to deciding what to sip on, go for hot beverages such as organic herbal teas, especially tulsi, or Indian bay leaf. This is the perfect time of year to regularly have my Evening Replenishing Elixir, from my new book, Radical Beauty (which I co-authored with Deepak Chopra). It’s made of sleep-promoting hemp milk, and the warming Ayurvedic spices of cardamom, cloves, and turmeric, along with coconut nectar.
Wine can have a place at your healthy holiday table in moderation—and is probably the best alcohol in this regard (sorry, no champagne in the ancient texts).
Try having a good mulled wine if you’re in the mood for an alcoholic beverage. And, by the way, the secret to good mulled wine is spices. Wine, which is mentioned in some Ayurvedic texts, can have a place at your healthy holiday table in moderation—and is probably the best alcohol in this regard. (Sorry, no champagne in the ancient texts!)
What if you’ve overdone It?
Food and drink aren’t the only way to keep the body warm and healthy. As we also discuss in great detail in Radical Beauty, I recommend you do regular abhyanga (a type of self oil massage) on yourself, with warm sesame oil this season. It can keep your nervous system balanced and immunity high, especially important given the cold weather and holiday stress you may be experiencing now. You should also protect yourself from chills by wearing scarves to protect the throat and upper chest.
Sometimes, despite our best intentions, holiday temptations get the better of us and we find that we’ve indulged a bit more than we normally would in food or drink. The key is to get right back on track before you make the indulgence a new habit.
A day here or there is no biggie, but when you take home all the leftovers and nosh on them for a week, that’s when the issues—like bloating—start to accrue. Remember this is also a perfect time for a winter cleanse, to help you re-start.
Finally, don’t beat yourself up! Remember our Beauty Detox mantra: “Progress, not perfection.” No one is expecting you to be perfect during the holidays. Just do your best, give lots of love to those around you, and enjoy!
Kimberly Snyder, CN, is a member of the Well+Good Wellness Council, our handpicked holistic health squad that gives the best advice this side of your own personal guru.
She is also a celebrity nutritionist and the New York Times best‐selling author of The Beauty Detox Solution, The Beauty Detox Foods and The Beauty Detox Power, and co-author of Radical Beauty, with Deepak Chopra. Her popular beauty blog, KimberlySnyder.com, features Ayurveda-inspired recipes and products—and she is also the creator of Glow Bio, an organic juice, smoothie, and cleanse company.
What should Kimberly write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to [email protected].