Holistic Holidays: Spice It Up, Keep Weight Down

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Trying to hustle through the holidays while sticking with healthy habits can be daunting. Although this “wonderful time of the year” isn’t about deprivation or dieting, it does bring about some food and fitness glitches. While we want to enjoy ourselves, the extra parties, gatherings and high-calorie celebrations make the holiday season ripe for overeating and skipped workouts.

For many women, the weight mayhem can be even more unsettling, as often, natural methods of losing weight can be frustrating, not to mention unsuccessful. Even if we regularly exercise and eat healthy, women in their 40s and 50s often watch their weight increase and have a harder time losing extra pounds, making them more susceptible to resorting to quick fixes, pills or unhealthy diets.

Some of us prefer to approach our eating the natural way, by eating whole and clean foods most of the time. What we put on our plate plays an important role in weight loss, but what we keep in our spice drawer can be significant as well.

Nagina Abdullah, a certified health and online weight loss coach specializing in health for women in midlife, says many herbs and spices can boost our metabolism, curb cravings and help our bodies burn fat more quickly. And while Nagina promotes a holistic and natural approach to weight loss by eating real, nutrient-dense food and combining it with exercise, she has found the importance of integrating spices into a diet for keeping extra pounds at bay.

“We could all benefit from using spices and flavorful foods to create satisfying and nutritious meals that we love and that our families love too,” says Nagina. Research suggests that many common spices have positive health benefits. Plus, these tasty flavorings may indirectly help with weight loss just by making healthy food taste better, so we eat more of the nourishing stuff.

Those who follow a spicy way of eating can use these valuable aromatics to create flavorful, satisfying meals that accelerate metabolism, curb cravings and make healthy eating enjoyable. Nagina teaches her clients how to combine spices with other foods to get the most significant results. Here are a few of her top spice suggestions to make your holidays clean and add zing!

The Skinny on Seasonal Spices
Cinnamon: This classic holiday spice lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, cuts down on insulin spikes, lifts energy levels, burns belly fat and reduces fat storage.

Nutmeg: The nutty spice increases blood flow throughout the circulatory system and helps make your metabolism merry.

Pumpkin Spice is a blend of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves with other spices. Nagina notes that pumpkin spice is a “medley of metabolism-boosting spices.”

Ginger: A digestive powerhouse, this stomach-calming spice helps us digest our holiday meals. Take a ginger tea break after a holiday dinner to rev up digestion and alleviate tummy troubles.

Turmeric: Most of turmeric’s health benefits are attributed to curcumin, a compound that carries solid antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies indicate that turmeric may also play a role in weight loss.

Cayenne: Capsaicin, found in many peppers, may curb your appetite, speed up metabolism and help burn calories with an extra kick!

Paprika: Nagina says to use paprika as a milder form of cayenne. “It’s not as spicy as cayenne but adds color and flavor. Sprinkle on potatoes, meat and fish dishes to increase metabolism.”

Add Spice to Your Food
It’s easy to add flavor and feast-busting power to your holidays or any time of year. Dash spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg on sweet potatoes, oatmeal, cereal, smoothies or holiday desserts. Use cayenne in meats, nuts and savory dishes. Combine several spices to perk up lentils or beans. The simplest way to add spice to your day is to sprinkle a bit of your favorites atop coffee or tea.
Eating healthy and not overindulging is hard enough most days of the year, but coping with holiday stress and navigating all the bountiful buffets can make it especially difficult to avoid unwanted pounds. This wonderful season, filled with tantalizing treats and family get-togethers, can create even more pressure to maintain a healthy body weight. But we really can have our spiced eggnog and drink it too! By embracing the idea of spicing up our holidays and being mindful of our lifestyle choices, we can enjoy the holidays with a little extra kick.

Sources: masalabody.com, webmd.com and healthline.com


For a little extra boost, try Nagina’s Drink and Shrink Cinnamon Warming Tea that will kick- start your day or warm your nights:
1 cup water
½ cinnamon stick
1 inch ginger
Simmer ingredients for 20 minutes in a saucepan. Remove from heat, strain and add 1 tsp. honey.