• By: Marie Waine

Health for the Holidays

The holidays wear me down.

Between the parties, rich food and cold weather, it is hard to stay on top of my to-do list.

Now, I don’t want you to think I’m complaining. Just the opposite! I love the smell of freshly baked Christmas cookies and really look forward to seeing my family. But sometimes all of the excitement for the festive season takes a toll on my health. I do not want to slow down, yet I keep putting more on my plate (literally and figuratively!).

Thankfully Melissa Ramos of Sexy Food Therapy is here to help us make it through the holiday season without feeling like Santa after a night of cookies and milk.

Ramos is a nutritionist and acupuncturist and promises to add some sass to healthy living. And, guess what? She says we can boost our immune system and feel great without missing a beat this holiday season.

Sounds like a Christmas miracle to me!

Stay Hydrated

Between the glasses of wine at your office party to the beers with your buds on Christmas Eve, the holidays mean a larger consumption of alcohol. And the shopping for presents in crowded malls? Coffee will be guzzled by the gallons.

Ramos wants us to remember between the cocktails and speciality drinks, we must keep drinking water.

“We don’t tend to drink enough water, especially around the holiday season,” Ramos says. “We tend to drink more alcohol and coffee to get us through work and holiday shopping.”

How can we add some H2O to our routine? Get it in early!

“When you wake up in the morning, have a glass of water in the morning with lemon. But make sure that glass of water isn’t cold. Never drink cold water,” she says. “When you do, it kills your stomach acid. And when you eat, the first place that food goes is in your stomach. You need enough acid to be able to break the food down.”

Looks like I have been doing it wrong all this time. But now I know the secret to not feeling so bloated after eating my favourite holiday dishes!

And on the topic of festive food…

Get Creative

A huge part of my winter repertoire includes hot, frothy drinks from my favourite cafés. However, these drinks are usually full of sugar! When I think of a healthy alternative, smoothies and juices come to mind. But, let’s be honest. A smoothie is not going to fill my craving for a warm drink.

“If you don’t want to have a smoothie because it’s so cold outside, then make a hot drink,” says Ramos. “My favourite things are lattes, but in a healthy way.”

A healthy latte? How come I have never thought of this?

OsterVersaRamos says the easiest trick is to use the blender you would normally use for smoothies to whip up a decadent, healthy hot drink. Blenders are an easy way to help Canadians boost their vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and fibre intake from foods. You’ll be eating (or drinking) healthier in no time!

Intrigued but fretful of using a large, expensive blender? Try the Oster Versa 1400 Watt Performance blender. This blender offers the same quality components and results as significantly higher priced, performance blenders. Priced at only $249.99, the Oster® Versa™ blender is an easy to use tool to add to your kitchen that makes high level performance and nutrition easy and affordable for Canadians.

Not sure what ingredients to throw in your blender to create a healthy, hot drink? You’re in luck…

Treat Yourself in a Healthy Way

Just because you’re trying to be healthy doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of those much desired sweets—everything is okay in moderation!

Ramos’ go-to? An energizing hot chocolate.

“This is what I’m having when I’m feeling that dip mid-day. So for that 3 p.m. crash,” says Ramos. “This is my go-to! It will perk you up!”

So you’re saying I can drink hot chocolate and feel guilt-free? Sign me up.

Ramos says the secret is treating yourself, but doing it with the right ingredients.

“During the holiday season, we feel run down. We don’t have enough energy to keep going. People will rely on crutches,” she says. “Because sugar is in such abundance at this time of year, people will go for that when they’re tired. And this is a really great refined, sugar-free alternative. You still feel like you’re treating yourself because you’re still getting that chocolate kick.”

Here is the recipe:

oster-energizing-hot-chocEnergizing Hot Chocolate
Almond milk
1 tbsp. cacao
1 tsp maca powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Couple dashes cayenne
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 dropper of stevia
Pinch of sea salt

Heat, blend and serve.

And if you’re super hungry? Add half an avocado!

“This recipe will supercharge your system with tons of energy, help you adapt to stress and boost your immune system,” says Ramos.

Happy Holidays

Armed with these tips, you are ready to fight the hoards of shoppers bound to be present from now until Christmas day. And you’ll have enough energy to entertain at a holiday party after!

So, drink up Ottawa Lifers and have a healthy, holiday season!