| fitness Food & Diet holiday guide for fitness holidays

The Ultimate Holiday Survival Guide

By Tyler Woodward

Holidays today typically consist of a lot of food, drinks and a couple of extra pounds around the waist. If you want to have fun this holiday season without compromising your health or fitness make  sure to keep on reading…

Key Takeaways:

  • Foods, Drinks & Treats To Avoid During The Holidays
  • How To Eat Healthily During The Holidays
  • The Best Supplements To Not Let Your Health Suffer

Table of Contents:

Holiday Foods:

Meat

When you go shopping for this holiday weekend, make sure to pick up grass-fed, organic ground beef, organic, pasture-raised pork or organic, free-range chicken. 

Why Buy Organic?

Organic Meat

One of my favorite and one of the only true dogma’s that exists in the nutrition realm is “You Are What You Eat.” When you eat food, you are absorbing all the nutrients and hormones that are in it, so you want to ensure the food you eat is as healthy as you want to be. Organic meat ensures that the feed which the animals are fed is grown organically, meaning that there are no pesticides used in their feed and therefore no pesticides in the animals. Many pesticides used today are estrogenics, meaning they emulate estrogen in the body, and when we consume them they attach to our estrogen hormone receptors, just as estrogen would 

While you may think this is only important for women, estrogen is probably the most misunderstood hormone in the human body. Contrary to popular belief, estrogen is a stress-hormone and most certainly, not the female version of testosterone. Estrogen and estrogen-mimicking chemicals have been shown to:

  • Increased Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)  levels which decreases free testosterone levels
  • Increased fat-gain, water retention and can potentially lead insulin resistance
  • Promote cancer-formation and cancer-growth of certain cancers
  • Have been associated with increased rates of anxiety and depression
  • Have been associated with fertility problems and blood-clots.

Ironically, a lot of the side effects of estrogen are the same as the side effects from  a commonly used form of birth control, Aranelle,  which utilizes contains estrogen.

Additionally, organic means that the animals are not mass-injected with antibiotics. These antibiotics also can increase the estrogen levels of the cows, but can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance in humans, which coincidentally (or not) is on the rise. 

Why Buy Grass-Fed, Pasture-Raised, & Free-Range?

Grass-fed Meat

When animals eat their natural food source they are typically in a much healthier and less stressed state because they are consuming all the necessary nutrients to function optimally (just like in humans). The more “unnatural” feed the animals consume, it can significantly inhibit their ability to function optimally. Not to mention, locking these animals up in a cage which prohibits them from moving throughout the day. This results in increased inflammation and stress in the animals, typically in the forms of stress hormones like estrogen, cortisol and adrenaline. 

As we discussed before, estrogen tends to increase water retention and fat-gain which is viewed as a positive by meat farmers who sell meat by the pound. Estrogen is predominantly stored in fat, which means the fatter the animal, the more estrogen we are consuming with it.  

The fat gain caused as a result of consuming these estrogenics and nutrient deficiencies is predominantly from unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats, specifically poly-unsaturated fats, tend to be broken down and oxidized in the body’s of warm-blooded animals because of our high body temperature. You can see this visually by comparing any vegetable oil like canola oil, sunflower oil, ect, which are mostly made up of polyunsaturated and are liquid at room temperature. Saturated fats like coconut oil, lard, cocoa butter are all solid at room temperature. 

Fatty Acid Chain

When warm-blooded animals consume polyunsaturated fats they release free radicals which triggers inflammation and leads to a number of health problems down the line. Additionally, because polyunsaturated fats are so unstable our cells preferably store them instead of using them as fuel. For these reasons, grass-fed cattle and pasture-raised pigs have a much higher ratio of saturated fats to unsaturated fats, making them a healthier option. If you add in organic, I’d categorize these foods as “healthy”, as in having no detrimental effect on the body and supplying us with vital energy and nutrients.

Read More: How To Get Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Out Of The Body

Bread, Desserts & Snacks

Bread - 

Bread

Gluten allergies and intolerances are becoming more and more common by the day. At this point, pretty much everyone knows someone who has at least tried going gluten free to see if it improves their health. Gluten is primarily found  in a number of grains including barley, wheat, and rye. Gluten is a large protein that can get stuck in the digestive tract due to its large size, often resulting in indigestion. If gluten happens to make its way through your digestive tract and into your bloodstream it triggers an inflammatory response, resulting in systemic inflammation if enough is consumed. A lot of people are able to digest gluten without an issue, others not so much, but regardless it's best to avoid it for these reasons.Luckily, this is when sourdough comes in. 

Sourdough was the original method used to bake bread before commercial yeasts were invented. Sourdough undergoes a natural fermentation process that causes the bread to rise and in the process breaks down the majority of gluten in the bread. This makes sourdough a healthy alternative to regular bread products, while also maintaining the taste unlike gluten-free bread alternatives. Sourdough is becoming increasingly popular, so you may be able to find sourdough buns in a local grocery store or bakery, but if not, sourdough is also very easy to make your own. Just make sure that you use unbleached and unenriched wheat flour. 

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About Sourdough

Sides & Condiments- 

As we discussed before, when we consume poly-unsaturated fats like vegetable oils they get broken down and oxidized in our body. This is why fried foods get such a bad reputation, particularly for the unpleasant bathroom visits that frequently occur right after eating them. Think about it, what is unhealthy about potato chips or french fries before they are fried? They are just thinly sliced potatoes, which alone themselves are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. It is what they are fried in that results in this damaging effect. If you can get sides that have been fried in saturated fat oils like lard or coconut oil, these now become healthy versions of the same products. 

As far as other sides and condiments go, just make sure to get organic ketchup and dijon mustard as well as tomatoes and onions. 

Holiday Drinks:

Drinks

We all know it’s next-to impossible to survive the in-laws visiting without being a few drinks in. While alcohol is technically treated as a toxin in the body and therefore always best consumed in moderation, some forms of alcohol are significantly healthier than others. Here are a few tips to consider when purchasing alcohol

  1. Avoid Gluten - As we discussed before, gluten is highly inflammatory in the body, although some people do tolerate it better than others.
  2. Avoid Hops - Hops acts as a potent estrogenic and therefore increases your estrogen levels, while decreasing testosterone and progesterone levels.
  3. Avoid Congeners - Congeners are additives put in alcoholic beverages in order to produce the color or taste desired by the manufacturer. The more congeners you consume, the more work your liver is forced to do on top of processing all the alcohol you drank.  
  4. Avoid Cans (If Possible) - Most cans are lined with BPA (bisphenol  A) as a cheap way of insulating the can. Generally, BPA is of less concern when it is kept cold because it is less likely to leak into the liquid, but because carbonated beverages are more acidic they cause more BPA to leak into the fluid. Even in non-carbonated drinks, in my opinion it's just best to avoid cans if possible and opt for glasses or straight from the tap.

Here are a few of our alcohols of choice and tips to make your drinking as healthy as possible:

  1. Go Organic - Just like with our food, we want to avoid consuming pesticides in our drinks because of their estrogenic nature. Organic red wines and ciders are a great choice and also eliminate any congeners in the alcohol
  2. Choose Hard Liquors Distilled In Fruits & RootsVodkas, whiskeys and rums that are distilled in potatoes or fruits will not contain any  gluten.
  3. Tequila! - Tequila is definitely a company favorite, as it is one one of the purest forms of alcohol and the only alcohol that is considered a stimulant. The healthiest tequilas are made with 100% pure organic agave, but make sure that your tequila contains at least 51% agave.
  4. Chasers & Mixed Drinks - The best things to mix your drinks with are generally organic fruit juices that do not contain any artificial sugars or flavoring. 
  5. Don’t Avoid Sugar! - Sugar gets a bad reputation for many things including causing bad hangovers, but this is not true. Generally, the most “sugary” drinks like rums and wines also have the highest content of congeners in order to give them their desired look. Fructose, a type of sugar mainly from fruits, can actually help to reduce your hangover and allow your liver to process the alcohol faster. Fructose can only be absorbed from the blood via the liver and therefore serves as a direct energy supply.

Pro-Tip - Mexican coca cola is actually made with raw cane sugar and in glass bottles, making it a healthy alternative to American coke.

Read More: How to Reduce the Effects of Alcohol | 3 Ways to Minimize the Damage

Holiday Treats

Dessert

No holiday would be complete without dessert, I mean it’s unanimously agreed upon as the best part. Here a few healthy substitutes that you can make without sacrificing flavor:

  • Drop The Cake - Let’s be honest, ice cream cake will always be way better and also does not contain any gluten. If you’re really a cake person though opt for using grain-free flour like sorghum or cassava flour and use a natural sugar-based tapioca frosting
  • Ice Cream - Who doesn’t love ice cream? Just make sure to get a high-quality ice cream, preferably from grass-fed cows or from a local dairy farm. Umzu’s ice cream of choice is Haagen Daz. 
  • Chocolate - Again, make sure to get a high quality, organic chocolate and get some extra brownie points for getting dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is filled with antioxidants and polyphenols which help to reduce inflammation.
  • Cookies - If you’re a cookie monster like myself, I recommend opting for a grain-free cookie made with organic chocolate chips. But let’s be honest these are just not comparable to the miracle that is the chocolate chip cookie. If you can find a method of making sourdough chocolate chip cookies these are going to be a much tastier alternative, but I have yet to find a recipe.

Umzu Fit

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Holiday Saving Supplements:

Supplements

While we should always try to eat as healthily as possible, sometimes it’s just not realistic. By adding in a few strategic supplements we can minimize any damage that may occur. Our go-to recommendation is always our damage control stack. The Damage Control Bundle contains our Floracil50 probiotic, zuPOO digestive cleanse supplement and Sensolin our blood sugar support supplement. 

  • Floracil50 -  Floracil50 is a 50 billion CFU (colony-forming unit) probiotic that is made up of 8 types of probiotic bacteria. Floracil50 will help to keep your gut healthy and possibly even improve the health of your gut biome during the holidays. 
  • zuPOO - zuPOO is designed to flush out any and all toxins that you have consumed that are sitting in your digestive tract. This is a great way to minimize any damage from poor food choices or excessive drinking and great way to start fresh.
  • Sensolin - Sensolin is designed to keep your blood sugar levels in check, so no matter how much food you eat your energy levels stay high.
  •  

    Damage Control BundleDon't let your health suffer during the Holiday's! With the help of the Damage Control Bundle you'll finish the Holiday's feeling better than you started!

    Healthy Holiday's Made Easy: 

    July 4th & Memorial Day:

    • Burgers & Dogs - Use grass-fed organic ground beef or buy pre-made versions
    • Sausage/Brats-> Get organic, pasture raised sausage 
    • Buns - Get Sourdough buns
    • Chips & Fries - Make sure the chips are not fried in vegetables oils

    Thanksgiving:

    • Turkey - Due to the high tryptophan content in turkey and other bird meats I recommend swapping turkey for something tastier like beef
    • Stuffing - Replace the regular breadcrumbs with some of your leftover sourdough breadcrumbs 

    Halloween: 

    • Candy (sugar) - Make sure to get candy that is made with organic sugar without any additives or preservatives
    • Candy (chocolate) - Buy organic and/or grass-fed chocolate

    Christmas:

    • Ham - Do your best to find high quality organic and/or pasture-raised ham which will have a significantly higher portion of saturated fats than unsaturated fast. If you really want to go all out though it is best to swap pork for beef as there is more tryptophan in beer which leads to higher serotonin levels. 
    • Christmas Cookies - Opt for grain-free cookies (or sourdough if possible)
    • Egg Nog - Just go organic and you’re all set

    Easter:

    • Pies - Try out a sourdough pie crust and replace any nuts or seeds with fruits!
    • Easter Eggs - Just make sure the chocolate is from a high quality source

    Conclusion:

    My goal in writing this article, as always, is to provide you with logically-based principles that you can use to form your own conclusions regarding any information you may come across within this subject. I really hope you found this article interesting and if you have anything to add to this article, or any comments or criticism, feel free to reach out to me on our facebook groups (The Thermo Diet Community Group, The UMZU Community Group) or on Instagram @tylerwoodward__. Also, please feel free to share this article with anyone that might be interested.

    Thanks for reading!

    Until next time… be good

    ~Tyler Woodward
    B.S. Physiology & Neurobiology

    Bibliography:

    Jay, Anthony G. Estrogeneration: How Estrogenics Are Making You Fat, Sick, and Infertile. Pyrimidine Publishing, 2017.

    “Nausea and Vomiting - Common Causes and How To Treat It.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-nausea-vomiting.