Here is your full guide to going plant-based during the holidays and making healthier food choices to feel good in your body.
This article shares research and recipes about going plant-based to manage autoimmune and chronic diseases and to take your health back today! Start incorporating healthier food options before New Year's to kick old habits goodbye!
Thanksgiving and Christmas involve three main components: spending time with family and friends, enjoying food, and giving thanks. Unfortunately, because these holidays are food-focused, people often ditch their healthy eating habits to indulge in high-fat, salty, and sugary foods with their loved ones. While there’s nothing wrong with eating a good meal during the holidays, you don’t want go too far off from your health goals.
Good and clean nutrition is vital for all, especially for people with autoimmune diseases, as certain inflammatory foods, like processed foods, meat, sugar, soda, and dairy, can weaken the immune system and cause inflammation.
Before you start prepping your famous turkey stuffing, let's get a head start on your soon-to-be New Years’ resolution by trying plant-based foods this holiday season.
The relationship between autoimmune disease and poor nutrition
As mentioned before, consuming many unhealthy and pro-inflammatory foods can harm people with autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis. However, aside from a weakened immune system and inflammation, poor nutrition can affect other areas of your health.
A poor diet can lead to:
Increased insulin resistance, hormone issues (e.g., PCOS)
High blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes
Anxiety and depression
to name a few...
Many health conditions can be avoided and improved by adopting healthier eating and lifestyle habits.
Benefits of a plant-based lifestyle for autoimmune diseases
If you have an autoimmune or chronic disease, you could substantially improve your overall health and well-being by going plant-based and changing your eating and lifestyle behaviors.
Since I (Coach Genny), have transitioned to plant-based in 2019, I have:
regained 30 healthy lbs. after being hospitalized with a terrible lupus flare, stage IV kidney nephritis, and malnourishment,
reduced gut issues, skin rashes, brain fog, chronic fatigue
gained more mental clarity to leave a toxic career in accounting and transitioned to a health coach,
have more energy,
ran a successful fitness and nutrition business and served over 500 women globally to reach their fitness and lifestyle goals during the pandemic,
put lupus in remission for 2 years (before covid) by changing what I ate, how I moved, my relationships and mindset,
reset my healing journey to incorporate emotional release to sustain; and
feel a sense of purpose and abundance to share with the community!
Going plant-based is literally life-saving!
What does it mean to go plant-based? Plant-based focuses on adopting eating patterns to mindfully consume whole foods derived from plants and mother nature. This form of eating is native to our ancestors and includes consuming whole and unprocessed or minimally processed fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes and herbs.
What about plant-based and lupus? In January 2022, a UK-based study was published by the National Institute of Health and surveyed individuals with SLE to determine their interest and participation in eating a plant-based diet to manage SLE symptoms.
Based on study's results, SLE patients who changed their eating patterns to incorporate more plant-based foods, while limiting processed foods and animal products, reported improvements in their disease symptoms.
Here are some of the benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle to manage autoimmune diseases:
Reduce pain and swelling
Improve heart health, blood pressure, blood sugar and weight management
Improve hormonal health
Promote healthy gut bacteria
Improve mental and physical function
How to prepare for the holiday season on a plant-based diet
Switching your eating habits around the holiday season may seem challenging, but it is achievable. Having a plan for when temptations arise, having portion control (practice mindful eating), and getting your family involved can make your plant-based journey more enjoyable and stress-free.
Here are some tips to help you stay on your plant-based journey during the holidays:
Manage temptations: There will be times when you want some of the oozy mac and cheese or your auntie's ham. When temptations arise, don’t give in. Instead, look for delicious alternatives to be prepared that can subside your cravings and still be plant-based-friendly.
Involve your family: It can be challenging to adopt a new diet when your household isn’t on board. So while you shouldn’t force anyone to join you on your plant-based journey, you can encourage them to try some of your prepared plant-based meals. Recipes follow below.
Practice mindful eating: Mindful eating involves using all senses to have a more profound and enjoyable experience with your food. This method can make your plant-based journey more exciting and limit your cravings for eating excessively and unhealthy foods.
Need help finding animal centered alternatives for plant-based foods? Listed below are some food swaps you can make during the upcoming holiday season:
Milk → Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Cashew Milk, Coconut Milk, Hemp Milk, Oat Milk
Cheese → Plant-Based Cheeses (Brands: Miyokos, Field Roast, Violife), Cashews + Nutritional Yeast
Eggs → Plant Eggs (e.g., Just-Egg or Bob's Red Mills Egg Replacement), Chickpea Aquafaba (juice), Flax Egg (1 egg = 1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp of water)
Butter → Plant Butter (same brands of cheese)
Sugar → Coconut Sugar, Maple Syrup, Agave, Medjool Dates
Meat → Tempeh, Lentils + Walnuts, Tofu, Mushrooms, Seitan, Beans
Soda → Water with lemon, Sparkling Water with Cranberry and Apple Juice
Try out these delicious and carnivore-friendly recipes you can prepare for your family
Here are some of my favorite plant-based holiday recipes to make this holiday season for you and your loved ones to enjoy! These are packed with flavor and nutrients and you won't miss a beat (or meat)!
P.S., my mother enjoyed a 100% plant-based thanksgiving in 2021 for the first time. She even went for seconds on the sweet potato pie!
As a recommendation, speak with your physician or nutritionist before making any significant changes to your diet. Every autoimmune disease and person is different, so you always want to put your health first before adopting new lifestyle habits.
Give Plant-Based a Try!
It's important to not lose sight of your health goals while enjoying the holiday season. You can still enjoy the holidays and special time with loved ones by being mindfully of your food choices. Just make your favorite dishes healthy, meat-free, tasty and enjoyable for many more good times and laughters to come! Overall, living a plant-based lifestyle is about a life of freedom and abundance!
Happy holidays, everyone!
Coach Genny Mack
Co-Authored by Taneia Surles
Need support on your plant-based transition to manage a chronic disease? Book a free 15-m clarity call today: www.gennymack.com/book
Try any recipes? Give us a tag on IG @theeatschool