The height of summer and the festive season are reasons enough to celebrate!

We are at the culmination of another year of growth: all the lessons and the successes. We all deserve a break and the time to let these settle in to our being before embarking on another year of adventure through life.

But the holidays can often be a source of stress for us as we hurry around making sure there are gifts for everyone, our families are fed, our out-of-town guests are happy, and then there’s the excess drinking, lack of sleep and less-than-optimal food choices!

As we know, stress is a major contributor to hormonal imbalance. When the body is in stress mode precious nutrients and resources are diverted from hormone function. We want to celebrate with ease and enjoyment, not with stress.

Here in the Rabkin family, we love the summer and to host our friends and family over the festive season. My parents were chefs and restauranteurs back in the day and I spent 10 years in the service industry so, as a family, we know how to host a party. You’ll never find us short on food and drink for our guests!

Some of our planning tips for a happy, healthy holiday party:

  • Choose one date for your end-of-year do: whether you love to do a New Year’s Eve, a boxing day  bash or the big family Christmas lunch, choose one and stick with it! You are under no obligation to do the whole thing. For us, it’s my dad’s birthday on December 20th so we usually do a lunch/garden party on the weekend before Christmas.
  • Get your menu ready in advance. Menu planning, and shopping in advance, is an essential aspect of party planning to avoid stress on the day, and to make sure you have all your healthy options prepped. Last minute shopping can have you rushing to the local convenient store rather than a farmers’ market
  • Serve buffet style with lots of different salad and vegetable dishes. We always opt for “casual dining” so guests can pick and choose from the dishes they like, and eat outside in a relaxed setting
  • Avoid the “chip and dip” style party. This type of snacking is generally not done mindfully  and often done standing up. This can leaves guests (and yourself) feeling bloated and icky. Rather do a full meal or deliciously homemade snacks like falafels or seed crackers with a variety of homemade dips and sauces
  • Try going 100% gluten free. I often hear hosts saying that they HAVE to cater for their guests’ wants. Ummm no, it’s your party and they’ll eat what you provide! Our guests always appreciate the diversity that comes from staying away from the usual options
  • Stock up on organic wine. Go out to a farm in the weeks leading up to your party and you might find special deals on cases. (One of our favorite organic wineries is Lazanou, also found at the Biscuit Mill on Saturdays). Look out for specialty alcohols made with real ingredients. We are also lucky to have so many local gin varieties!
  • Treats don’t have to be bad for you or make you feel bad! For inspiration, take a look at our grain-free pineapple upside-down cake

We can definitely exercise control when we’re hosting in our own home, but what about when we’re invited to someone else’s? There’s only so much we can do to control these situations… and that’s ok! Here are my tips for attending parties:

  • Ask if you can bring something or contribute: even if it’s just a bottle of organic wine from Woolworths (we like the Laibach/Ladybird brand), or it could be a dish you have prepared with lots of diverse veggies or salad. Having even one thing you know you can trust can help you feel less stressed
  • Don’t stress! Accept that things happen that are less than optimal, and that’s ok. Our bodies are designed to restore balance and anything can be rectified. Relax and enjoy yourself
  • Don’t start eating right away. If there’s a table laden with snack foods like chips, samosas, cupcakes etc, try to wait as long as possible (without stressing) before getting started because we all know that once you start, there’s no stopping! Delaying the start can help you avoid total binge
  • If you do binge, its ok! If you feel yucky, it’s ok! Everything can be detoxed tomorrow
  • Drink lots of water. Take your own spring or filtered water in a large bottle so you can keep drinking throughout the day. For each alcoholic drink, we should aim for one glass of water
  • Limiting alcohol intake can also help us stay conscious of what we’re eating

We’ve all been there… coming home from a party feeling bloated and achy from all the refined foods we’ve eaten, or sick with a headache from too much alcohol. What can we do now to restore our balance and reduce the stress we’ve put on our gut, liver and other systems?

  • Forgive yourself. What’s happened is in the past and now it’s about what we can do today to restore balance
  • Drink lots of water! Add a little sea or rock salt to your water to aid in detoxing
  • Drink aloe vera or aloe ferox (the local variety). I mix one-third of a glass of pure aloe in water. We get ours from Back Area Gardens
  • Give your body a break from refined foods: eat a diverse salad or a big bowl of mixed veggies to restore your nutrient levels and support gut and liver function
  • Go for a sauna, a massage (using natural oils!) or work up a sweat. These are all ways to detox the body
  • Sleep. Sleeping is one of the healthiest things you can do to bring your body into balance. Go on, it’s the holidays have a siesta!

I hope these tips are useful for you! I’d love to see how you celebrate the season, please share your stories with me on Instagram. 

Happy holidays. My absolute best wishes from my family to yours. To another year of growth, health and abundance.