Thanksgiving: Tips to reduce cellular stress during the holidays


Do you struggle honoring the true meaning of the holidays because stress overcomes you? Time to focus on things like connection, celebration, appreciation and reflection? It’s easy to get caught up in what needs to happen for you to stay in a rhythm of selfcare with all the travel plans, unscheduled eating opportunities, and perhaps family dynamics creating stress. What if you knew ways to help your body and mind cope with the potential stressors? I want to empower you with practical tips to reduce the inner cellular stress that can happen during the holidays, so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving fully.

I’m going to share my top holiday tips so you can use Thanksgiving to work for you – not against you. 

Here’s your holiday survival guide:    

This year, start your Thanksgiving day off with a breakfast that has plenty of fat, such as goat cheese and spinach scrambled eggs cooked in generous amounts of either ghee or my favorite, tea seed oil and serve with a side of avocado. The fat will provide your body with ample nutrients and stable energy, so that you’re not inclined to eat the entire Thanksgiving spread yourself. 

Save your carbs for last. Not only would I recommend you eat the carbohydrates on your plate after you first enjoy the main sources of proteins and fats but also time your carbohydrate choices so you eat them later in the day to help regulate stress hormones. The stress hormone cortisol tends to naturally be lower in the evening and thus responds better to the boost in blood sugar after eating carbohydrates. Are you completely over the infamous holiday blood sugar roller coaster ride of feeling famished to stuffed in a matter of minutes? You can avoid these uncomfortable highs and lows and even help prepare your body for a better night’s sleep by including one to two portions of healthy carbohydrates with your evening meal.   

Fat covers the trifecta of the top nutrition secrets that are going to make this year’s holiday a success! It’s satiating, it stabilizes the hormones responsible for controlling how much you eat and as a welcomed bonus, it contributes to that beautifully glowing holiday skin. The trick is to focus on getting the highest quality you can find. Do your best to select animal sources of fat from organic, local, and grass-fed sources and choose cold pressed and raw oils.  

Also, choose the full-fat option in your recipes. For instance, if a recipe calls for low-fat milk, substitute 100% grass fed cream instead. The carbohydrate in the milk spikes your insulin which makes you want 2nd, 3rd and 4th helpings. But the cream doesn’t contain any carbohydrates, so it keeps your insulin levels stable. Low insulin helps curb the urge to overeat.   

Probably the most influential factor in how well you maintain a grounded edge over the sultry spread of Thanksgiving indulgences is how well you sleep. Do your best to keep to your normal sleep rhythm and go to bed 20 minutes earlier than you normally do the night before your holiday event. Sleep is one of the best ways we repair cellular damage and inflammation, helping you to look and feel your best. Our sleep also regulates hormones like leptin, cck, and ghrelin which help us eat just the right amount, not too much and not too little. When these hormones are balanced, our body burns fat instead of storing it. It’s utterly amazing how powerful sleep is for our metabolisms and appetites.

If you are going to a gathering where you know there will be a lot of temptations, make sure you bring a dessert that you’ll love and can make a healthier version of. Try substituting sugary desserts with fruit-based crisps that are naturally sweet, or try a healthy sugar substitute like monk fruit in your recipes. This will help you to avoid getting a sugar hangover.

Don’t deprive yourself either. Acknowledge that we are biologically wired to feel pleasure, just make wise choices like high-quality dark chocolate or a glass of organic red wine. Not only do these provide pleasure, but they are a rich source of polyphenols that will help buffer any inflammation that gets triggered.

Use a variety of herbs and spices in dishes you make like ginger, garlic, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg in your dishes. The polyphenols that get delivered in these delicious packages are not only pleasurable to our senses, but offer protection against oxidation and inflammation.

Be daring and try substituting more obscure root vegetables like turnips or parsnips for a more traditional dish like mashed potatoes. Or, if you don’t want to go all the way, substitute half of the recipe with nutrient dense root veggies. That way you’ll still get the familiar delicious mashed potatoes, but you’ll also get a boost in nutrition.

Choose dark turkey meat if you can, it contains more nutrients than white meat. Ounce for ounce, there’s twice the amount of iron and zinc in dark meat versus white meat. Dark meat also provides substantially more essential fatty acids, B vitamins, (especially B12) and it’s a better source of the relaxation mineral, magnesium. Who can’t use more relaxation around the holidays? And be sure to save the turkey carcass to make bone broth or turkey soup, so you can benefit from all of the minerals and fat that the bones and marrow have to offer. 

Skip the commercially-based salad dressings and sauces and opt instead to make your own, or choose a simple oil and vinegar based dressing with high-quality olive or tea seed oil.

Aim for making half of your plate a variety of green vegetables like collards, salad, Brussel sprouts and green beans. A quarter can be protein and the other quarter starch. If you know that carbohydrates set off a cycle of never-ending Thanksgiving eating, skip the starch altogether and add additional vegetables cooked in healthy fats (coconut, olive, tea seed or avocado oils are my top favorites).

My all-time secret trick for surviving the beautiful but often overwhelmingly spread of rich indulgent food is to include a side dish of fermented vegetables or cultured cream to provide my microbiome with healthy bacteria that helps digest my Thanksgiving meal and makes more nutrients available to me. Most of the time when we overeat it’s because our body is searching for nutrients, not sugar. But because many holiday meals are laden with excessive sweets, we don’t feel “full” until we have reached an uncomfortable point! But when you feed your gut healthy bacteria, they feed you! Try including a couple tablespoons live sauerkraut, or fermented beets this year and see how it feels. You can buy these foods in the refrigerated section of your local grocer.

Incorporating these simple tips will provide your body with more nutrition, energy and tools to counteract any inflammation that may come along with the holiday stress. When your cells are happy and stress-free, you’re free to enjoy the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday!

May you have the happiest and healthiest holidays!


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