2851 N. Tenaya Way,
Las Vegas, NV 89128
2440 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy,
Henderson, NV 89052
The holidays are approaching, and many of you (our valued patients) are fraught with anxiety around your ability to adhere to your prescribed food plan (or in general healthy eating) while also enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Some of you have also expressed apprehension that if you allow yourselves to “fall off the food plan” one or more of the following consequences may occur:
THE GOOD NEWS: NONE of these scenarios are likely to occur with a little extra planning, and preparation on your part! This guide will provide you with healthy tips, tricks, recipes, and ideas to help make your holiday season healthier and tastier than ever! First, it is important to distinguish between the terms planning vs preparation…they may sound similar, but they are in fact very different.
Planningis the process of thinking regarding the activities required to achieve a desired goal. For example, thinking about what, where, when & with whom to cook your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, what kitchen tools you will need, how much it will cost, what side dishes can family or friends bring, etc.1
Preparationis to make ready, put together, or provide with what is needed to carry out the plan. For example, researching & gathering healthy holiday recipes, making grocery shopping lists, budgeting, cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry to make room for healthy products, contacting family or friends to discuss who will bring what to contribute to the meal, etc.)2
The answer to staying healthy during the holidays is in learning how to utilize both skills in equal measure. This can also be a fun part of the holiday experience for those of us who are foodies and enjoy trying new recipes, cooking, and eating healthy delicious meals with our loved ones!
Cooking over the holidays may not always be an option, or you may not have a say over the variety of foods offered when attending a meal at a family or friend’s home or out at a restaurant. However, healthier choices are ALWAYS available. Below are tips & tricks, and seasonal winter produce guides to support you in making healthier choices when you have less control over what foods will be available. The recipes that follow are listed by the type of food plan we recommend the most to patients and will hopefully help get you started on the road towards a healthier & flavorful winter season!
Tips (& Tricks) to Keep in Mind:
“Current health policy guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week coupled with reduced daily sedentary behavior by interrupting prolonged sitting with bouts of light activity every 30 minutes to promote health and quality of life. Anything less is considered physical inactivity, which is one of the most prevalent major health risk factors, with 8 in 10 US adults not meeting aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines.”7-8
Seasonal Winter Produce Guide Links (click on the months for details):
Holiday Recipes by Food Plan
Below are quick summaries of the three main food plans (AIP, Paleo, & Mediterranean) that we use at Valhalla Wellness and customize to fit each patient’s health goals. We utilize a wide range of therapeutic food plans from Designs for Health and the IFM. We share the IFM’s philosophy as a systems-biology approach to prevent and manage chronic disease—providing our patients with the appropriate tools to heal, including whole-food nutrition, healthy lifestyle changes, exercise recommendations, and environmental, structural, cognitive, emotional, and nutraceutical therapies.7,12
The Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) plan aims to reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms associated with autoimmune disease (e.g., Hashimoto thyroiditis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, etc.). Following this type of food plan can help identify potential “trigger” foods driving inflammation in the body and restore overall balance to the immune system. Other benefits include restored gut integrity, enhanced beneficial gut bacteria, and increased microbiome diversity—all of which may lead to decreased autoimmune symptoms and inflammation. The recipes are free of: Grains, dairy, legumes, nuts & seeds, nightshades, sugar, refined oils, processed foods, and alcohol.13
The Paleo plan (aka, the stone age, hunter-gatherer, or Caveman diet) is based on foods early humans may have eaten during the Paleolithic era—including meat, fish, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. The recipes are free of foods the human body may not have evolved to process—namely grains, dairy, legumes, and processed foods that only became staples in the human diet after the development of modern farming changed how humans ate. Randomized controlled trials have shown the Paleo plan can result in greater short-term benefits than diets based on national nutrition guidelines, including greater weight loss, reduced waist circumference, decreased blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved cholesterol levels.14
The Mediterranean plan is a highly researched anti-inflammatory heart healthy plant-based eating style that includes whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and other legumes, lean protein (organic poultry and wild-caught fish), whole grains, healthy fats, and organic dairy products (for those that tolerate casein in dairy). Includes daily consumption of olive oil, herbs, and spices. Studies have shown the Mediterranean diet can help prevent cardiovascular disease, promote healthy aging, and improve lifespan. Weight loss is also possible when paired with caloric restriction and appropriate macronutrient goals. Recent research has shown that a high-fat, low-carb modified Mediterranean diet may be best for heart health.15-16
Valhalla practitioners also utilize IFM tools and other resources (e.g., nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle handouts, apps, blogs, and web links) to teach patients how to identify the highest quality types of ingredients and products available today. We emphasize the vital importance of organic whole foods, and pasture-raised animal products as an integral part of healthy eating. For those on the Mediterranean plan – choosing sprouted nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains can make all the difference in the proper digestion, and absorption of nutrients from foods.17-19
The recipes listed below each food plan are based around traditional American holiday dishes and contain protein, complex carbohydrates high in fiber, and healthy fats to help balance blood sugar levels. Refined carbohydrates (white grains & simple sugars) spike blood sugar and insulin levels, which can lead to increased food cravings, and overall inflammation. Please follow the directions in the notes next to each recipe link to be sure to make it compliant with your food plan.
Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Holiday Recipes:
Low Sugar Desserts:
Paleo Holiday Recipes (may also choose any AIP recipes above):
Low Sugar Desserts:
Mediterranean Holiday Recipes (may also any AIP or Paleo above):
Low Sugar Desserts:
We hope this holiday guide helps support you and your family to enjoy a healthier and happier winter season! Please contact us with any questions!
Farrah Shahin, MS
Certified Nutrition Specialist®
Valhalla Wellness & Medical Centers
By Valhalla Wellness & Medical Centers
November 7, 2022