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This weekend, I’m starting to really gear up for the holidays.

It’ll feel great heading home to Milwaukee for a few days. I always enjoy the chilly weather and snow… plus catching up with friends and family I don’t get to see throughout the year.

It’s something I really miss here in Beverly Hills.

The other thing I love to catch up on… is all that incredible home cooking.

But – as delicious as it is, all that salt, sugar, and flour triggers a major inflammation response in the body – which not only dehydrates and dries out skin, but also leads to the breakdown of healthy collagen…

Which can make skin sag, wrinkle, and look much older than its true age.

And at my parents’ house, it seems like the spread gets bigger and more decadent every year! (Last year, the addition of chocolate silk pie to the dessert table was so good, I can practically still taste it…)

So between the upcoming feast, and the literally hundreds of homemade cookies I’ve already gotten as gifts from my patients…

Plus all of the parties Kendhal and I have been attending…

I know I have to find a way to enjoy myself, while still being careful.

Maybe you’ve noticed in past years that your skin has started looking older and more tired right after the holidays. If that sounds familiar – it’s extremely common, and usually has a lot to do with nutrition.

So I want to share a few things Kendhal and I have decided to do differently this holiday season.

Follow our easy “food swap plan” for the holidays to give your skin a break this season… and help to keep you looking young and healthy as the new year approaches.

INSTEAD OF Sugar Cookies…
CHOOSE Gingerbread Cookies. Sugar cookies are nothing but white sugar and white flour… two ingredients that cause major inflammation. But gingerbread cookies contain skin-healthy ginger and molasses, two antioxidant powerhouses that protect against aging and improve skin elasticity. They’re also full of B vitamins that boost metabolism, and help increase oxygen flow to the skin to help you keep skin looking radiant.

INSTEAD OF Instant Hot Chocolate…
MAKE Real Hot Chocolate. The stuff in the packet may remind us of childhood, but a more decadent hot cocoa made with REAL dark chocolate (65% or higher cocoa) and almond milk will taste even better, while nourishing skin. Almond milk contains vitamin E to help skin stay supple. Dark chocolate is packed with poten that can improve skin’s thickness, hydration and microcirculation. I even like to add a dash of chili powder to mine for an extra kick, plus even more circulation support.

INSTEAD OF White Potatoes…
USE Sweet Potatoes. These bright orange potatoes are high in vitamin A, B2, B6, copper ,and biotin, to stimulate collagen production for skin that stays firmer over time. Kendhal sometimes makes a sweet potato mash in place of mashed potatoes. She even drizzles some honey and cinnamon on top to satisfy my sweet tooth.

SERVE Mulled Wine. If you’re throwing a party, instead of serving up a cream-based drink, make mulled wine… A wonderful drink made by boiling red wine and adding warm winter spices. The skin benefits are astonishing – from the red wine’s anti-aging resveratrol, to the citrus’s collagen boosting Vitamin C… not to mention cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and honey. It’s also one of my favorite traditional holiday drinks, and is great served warm if you want a comforting beverage on a cold night.

INSTEAD OF Traditional Chip Dip…
BRING Cold Spinach Artichoke Dip. It’s hard to have healthy-skin food options when going to someone else’s holiday party, so bring a dish with you and choose a spinach artichoke dip. Spinach is loaded in vitamins and minerals essential for youthful, glowing skin. And the rich supply of antioxidants and peptides in artichokes can help reduce wrinkles and make skin look younger and your skin more luminous. One of my friends makes it with greek yogurt for even more health benefits… and it tastes delicious.

INSTEAD OF Grabbing Cheddar From The Cheese Tray…
PICK the Roquefort Cheese. There’s no need to completely skip over the cheese plate when snacking at a party. “Blue” cheeses, specifically Roquefort, are becoming more and more popular for their anti-aging benefits. That’s because they have a strong anti-inflammatory qualities which can help minimize any puffiness or irritation that can give skin a tired, more aged look.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed – from spending time with loved ones, to eating those foods you’ve waited all year to have.

I can’t wait… but I’m going to work hard to keep in mind that small changes can make a BIG difference in how I look (and feel) come December 26th.

Your Beverly Hills MD,

Dr. John Layke

About the Author

Dr. John Layke

Dr. John Layke grew up in Milwaukee, WI, where he knew from a young age that he wanted to practice medicine. After completing his undergraduate degree at Marquette University, Dr. Layke went on to attend medical school at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and trained in general surgery at the University of Illinois Metropolitan Group Hospitals in Chicago.