Let the holiday season be one of ease, peacefulness, and a time for healing. This is our time to gather with loved ones, give and share with others, and reflect upon all the blessings that have come into our lives during the past year.

One way to honor ourselves is to nourish our bodies with wholesome foods. All too often, the end of the year has become a time for slacking off. We may justify this by making a New Year's resolution to start dieting. This often leads to disappointment and unsustainable expectations. I think a better way to facilitate a positive outcome is to reframe the way we look at food, diet and health.

My philosophy is the 90/10 diet — eat 90 percent wholesome foods and the remaining 10 percent for indulging in your greatest food pleasures. Here you get the best of both worlds; you are not depriving yourself of the foods you love.

Despite its bad reputation, fat is actually an essential nutrient to keep healthy. The typical American diet is typically too rich in Omega-6 fats, which cause weight gain, inflammation in our body and cardiovascular distress. However, when we add Omega-3 essential fatty acids to our diets, we actually regulate our metabolism and improve our health. Foods high in Omega-3 are wild salmon, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and naturally raised grass-fed beef.

With holiday treats surrounding us, it's easy to experience a sugar overload. A wonderful, healthy sugar alternative is raw dark agave nectar, locally harvested in Southern Arizona. Agave is delicious as a tea sweetener and can replace the sugar in many dessert recipes. Another healthy, low calorie sugar alternative is yacon syrup, derived from South America's yacon root. Though packed with sweetness, yacon sugar can't be absorbed in the body, which makes it safe for diabetics. It supports immunity, aids in absorption of vitamins, and promotes a healthy digestive system.

Both agave and yacon have distinct tastes, and can't always replace the sugar that is called for in your holiday desserts. For those times, I recommend buying sucanat sugar, which is sugar in its most natural form.

For the indulgent times during this holiday season, ginger tea and digestive enzymes can be your saviors from stomach pains. Ginger is one of the best remedies for gastrointestinal distress and digestive enzymes will help your body break down and assimilate foods easier.

May your holiday season be one filled with wholesome, nourishing, flavorful treats, and a time to explore new foods.

Please check with your doctor prior to making any significant changes to your diet and/or lifestyle as these may require a change to your current medical regimen. This article was written for general informational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized care of your health care provider.

Tara Kligman is a holistic health counselor at the Vitality Medical & Wellness Center. She specializes in weight loss, energy improvement, immune support, detoxification and digestive health.

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