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A Functional Approach to Navigating Holiday Indulgence for a Fresh Start to the New Year - Blog Image

A Functional Approach to Navigating Holiday Indulgence for a Fresh Start to the New Year

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2015-12-31

We each have our own way of approaching the transition into a new year. Will you be making resolutions or opting for absolution from resolutions? What about your clients or patients? What’s their preference, and how will you honor them? Whether we’ve committed to one or the other, how we approach this fresh start or, conversely, how we ditch the drift to do so, seems to be a common struggle this time of year.

My personal intention is to ease into the new year with some conscious new habits, instead of leaping in with shiny new intentions that may not stay all that shiny for long. I’d like to invite you to do the same, starting with what I call the “Grace Period” – a subtle mindset shift in the spirit of the new year, which creates space for reflecting on the holiday indulgences as a way to return to balance. What does this mean? The Grace Period shifts our focus away from the indulgence (perhaps, eating more cookies or chocolate over the holidays, or watching more Netflix than usual) to what happens and how we feel in the day or two after.

Before we go any further, let’s first establish that we all have those days. It’s called being human, and I’m so glad we are! Someone who’s dairy-free may decide to go out for pizza or a person who’s trying to curb their sugar intake may eat half the batch of homemade almond flour scones. No matter where you are on your health and healing journey, and no matter your given dietary guidelines and intentions, it’s impossible to walk the straight-and-narrow day after day, meal-after-meal and not venture off that path. Friends and family may laugh at what it means for me to venture off the path – sprouted corn tortillas, roasted potatoes, raw goat cheese, and, yes, too many cassava flour or plantain-based cookies or scones. But, yes, I do it too! The most important thing I’ve noticed through my own experience with these indulgences is that there’s always a grace period and there’s power in thatperiod. Hang with me, this is where things get interesting!

The Grace Period

There may be a day where I don’t feel the “pain” (my personal signs and symptoms), when I indulge in the foods that satisfy my taste buds that I know don’t ultimately satisfy my health (whether that be my digestion, my energy, my mood, or even my body composition).In those cases, The Grace Period lasts as long as the indulgence does not.But if the indulgence continues, if I am tricked into thinking that The Grace Period is indicative of my “new norm,” then I may no longer be standing in the face of grace.

Now, I’m not talking about eating things that I know do my body no-good at all. At this point in my journey I know where there’s a little wiggle room and where there is not. And this is what allows for grace. Grace involves a level of tuning into my body, treating it with respect, and abiding by a personal oath to do it no harm.

What allows for The GracePeriod, is indulgence in the things our bodies can tolerate in moderation, on occasion – whether that be a particular food, food category, a larger quantity of something yummy than you usually consume, or even staying up after your usual bedtime to enjoy company that you only see once a year. It’s like gracefully veering off the path in the forest to pick a few berries (not the poisonous ones), and then getting right back on course – heading slowly but steadily toward our intended destination. That intended destination = feeling your best as often as possible!Since indulgence is natural, human, to be expected, and also quite the norm this time of year, I’d like to share some of my easiest tips for The Grace Period going into the new year. These are so easy, you can consider them simple reminders of the power of the small steps to take in your own life or share with your clients!


Stay hydrated.In fact, this is my biggest tip for anyone looking to start the new year right! The water we drink will help to flush out any excesses and cut down on the bloat that I hear so many complain of this time of year. Drink plenty of water before holiday get-togethers as well as the day after.


Eat plenty of vegetables and low-glycemic fruits.Produce is one of nature’s best detoxers. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with the water, fiber and nutrients that we need to satiate and cleanse our bodies. For anyone feeling like they’d like to move back into the face of grace, a “salad” at each meal may be the way. Importantly, that salad can be in the form of a blended smoothie or soup, an extra layer of cooked greens or cauliflower rice beneath your protein, or a heaping tablespoon of kraut on your dinner plate. Whatever you choose, on your post indulgence day, think about heading into the veggie kingdom.


Don’t skip meals.Be kind to yourself and set yourself up for success. When we skimp on or skip meals, we’re likely to indulge later.


Let it go.Enjoy what you enjoyed and move ahead. We remain in grace when we acknowledge the detour, The Grace Period, and the return to what helps us feel our best.

In grace and gratitude and a very happy new year to you!

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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