Diet Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Sliced ginger

Holidays can be a stressful time of year for many people. Additional things to do in a given time can mean that aspects of the daily diet and routine that are crucial for good health sometimes take a back seat. Yet it is a time of year when it is important to stay balanced in both mind and body.

Here in the United States, temperatures are quite low almost everywhere, and colds, the flu and various other kinds of bugs and viruses abound. Crowded malls, traffic jams and delays, and a general air of impatience characterize urban environments. It is a time of year when loneliness and other emotional imbalances can disturb one's equanimity more than at other times of the year.

Here are some suggestions for a smooth and healthy holiday season from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians.

One of the main reasons people tend to get colds and the flu easily during this time of the year is because the digestive power, or agni, can be weakened by cold temperatures. Weakened agni leads to undigested food or ama in the physiology, which then weakens the immune system and creates a fertile environment for viruses and bacteria to attack. By paying extra attention to keeping the agni strong, it is possible to reduce or avoid the accumulation of toxins, and thereby avoid illness the entire season or throw off any bugs more easily and quickly.

Maharishi Ayurveda offers a range of targeted nutritional supplements to enhance the digestive fire, boost natural immunity and restore balance to the physiology. Cold Weather Defense and Sniffle Free herbal tablets help to burn off ama and keep agni strong. Protection Plus Sinuses helps clear the channels in the sinus area and maintain fluid balance. Bio-Immune and Protection Plus Respiratory System help enhance natural immunity in the entire body and the respiratory area respectively. The Sniffle Free Aroma Oil blend also helps stimulate agni and helps to clean and purify the environment.

Wear clothing appropriate to the environment and avoid extreme temperatures. Make sure to cover your head with a wool cap if you go outside when it is cold or windy. Keeping your head covered and protected helps to keep Vata, which tends to go out of balance during the winter, in balance.

Taking Amrit, both Nectar and Ambrosia, is an excellent way to boost the body's natural defenses and the immune system. Many of our customers report enhanced immunity, elevated energy levels, and a deeper quality of rest when they take Amrit on a regular basis.

Planning ahead of time, shopping during the week instead of on the more crowded weekends, shopping mail-order or on the Internet well in advance, and distributing holiday tasks among all members of the family can help avoid holiday frenzy. Frenetic rushing from one activity to another, so common in our society, is one of the main factors that destroy ojas, the finest by-product of digestion that sustains life itself, and is responsible for bliss, vitality, and immunity.

Take the time to be with friends and family in a pleasant, relaxed environment. Avoid taking on too many activities and projects — choose just a few that you think are most important, and let go of others. Find the time to practice the Transcendental Meditation® program twice a day to keep your sense of balance. Make sure you set aside time for meals, your daily massage and some exercise. Go to bed before 10 p.m. and wake up early each day.

Dietary Tips for the Holiday Season:

  • Avoid eating heavy meals in the evening when agni is naturally weaker. Try to plan your holiday dinner for lunch or the late afternoon, and stick to light nutritious foods such as vegetable soups in the evening.
  • Eat fresh ginger slices with a dab of salt and lemon juice just before a big meal. This helps stimulate the digestive fire.
  • Add plenty of fresh ginger, cumin, coriander, fennel, and turmeric to your traditional family recipes. Spices help the process of digestion and add many of the six ayurvedic tastes to each meal.
  • Avoid cold drinks. Ice-cold beverages retard digestion.
  • Minimize the intake of alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Drink herbal teas or Raja's Cup instead.
  • Sip plenty of warm water through the day to help cleanse the body.
  • Try to avoid eating leftovers, which are more difficult to digest.
  • Savor each meal. Sit down to eat, and take a few minutes to sit quietly after the meal.

Enjoy some of the following healthy holiday recipes:

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Curried Sweet Potato Cakes

Suggestions for lighter foods to serve with the heavier foods above:

  • Sautéed kale
  • Steamed green beans with gravy sauce
  • Broiled baby potatoes with ground black pepper
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Biscuits

Fruit Compote

How to make fresh paneer at home

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.