By Deb Dittner
It’s that time of the year again!
Holiday songs both new and old bring feelings of togetherness, giving and joy. Just thinking about Christmas brings the scent of my grandfather’s Springerle cookies to mind, filling me with that amazing spice smell. The traditional scents that fill our homes for the holidays also bring great support to the body.
Three great holiday aromas delivered by therapeutic-grade essential oils are clove, cinnamon bark and wild orange. All three are safe for both children and pets and there is no worry about candles being knocked over or forgotten.
Clove essential oil is antimicrobial, filling the air with the scent of the autumn harvest and winter warmth. This hot oil may provide a warming sensation when applied topically to the skin and therefore should be applied with a carrier oil to dilute the sensation. Adding clove essential oil to some raw honey produces an amazing natural facemask against acne and other skin irritations. Clove boosts the immune system when diffusing, cleaning and in cooking.
Cinnamon bark essential oil is also antimicrobial, making this a great addition to your diffusing blend. Cinnamon bark adds spicy warmth to the mix. Research shows the ability to decrease cholesterol and support heart health. This oil helps to boost the immune system and is an antioxidant. It is also considered a hot oil, so add a carrier oil when applying to the skin.
Wild orange essential oil is both citrusy and sweet, supporting your digestive system in cooking and when added to your water. Wild orange can calm the anxious when diffused, and can be used in cleaning as it contains antibacterial properties by simply adding to white vinegar.
— 2 drops clove essential oil
— 2 drops cinnamon bark essential oil
— 4 drops wild orange essential oil
But the holidays can also create anxiety and stress, causing you to overindulge in inflammatory foods. Most traditional holiday foods contribute to that inflammation, adding to health problems of today. Avoiding these foods may seem quite difficult, but let’s look at ways to enjoy the celebrations and still maintain a healthy approach.
• Self-care: The holidays are a season of giving, but remember to first give to you. Practice meditation and breathing techniques to decrease anxiety and stress that will help in decreasing inflammation.
• Keep moving: Remember to continue the exercise program you worked hard to incorporate into your daily lives. Movement will keep down the inflammation and provide a sense of calm. Try incorporating yoga or tai chi.
• Preparation is key: If you will be eating out at a restaurant, check the menu ahead of time to know your options. You could also eat ahead of time if the options are not ideal and enjoy something small. Mostly, enjoy the company you are with. If you are going to a party where everyone will be bringing and sharing a dish, make something consisting of a whole nutrient-dense option that you will be able to enjoy.
• Add turmeric: If you’re bringing a dish to share, don’t forget the turmeric. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and a great spice to add to almost any meal. Turmeric also comes in supplement form, adding to your wellness routine. Look for a supplement brand providing 10 grams per day that contains piperine, which greatly increases the bioavailability of curcumin.
• Alcohol in moderation: Alcohol does create inflammation in the body, so you need to choose wisely. Look for cocktails that include anti-inflammatory, gut-healing ingredients such as ginger, kombucha, and water and coconut kefir. Consider having a glass of water or sparkling water in between alcoholic beverages.
• Avoid junk food: Chips and other crunchy snacks are staples at most parties and consist of inflammatory oils such as canola and soybean. Search out snacks such as raw, soaked or lightly toasted nuts and seeds, nut cheese, hummus or guacamole with raw veggies, salsa with cassava flour tortilla chips, and for those on a keto diet, fat bombs.
• Have a support system: Finding a friend who shares the same healthful options who can come with you will keep you both on track and accountable.
• Consider a probiotic: Probiotics help in healing the gut, which can be compromised during the holiday season when eating unhealthy foods. Probiotics consisting of a minimum of 10 billion colony-forming units that contain lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains aids in decreasing inflammation.
Balancing your body by incorporating anti-inflammatory choices will empower you throughout the season and into a healthy New Year.
• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at www.debdittner.com or contact her at 518-596-8565.