Having healthier holidays can be tough. It’s all too easy to overindulge, leading to weight gain, feeling crappy and hangovers. Not that I am planning on being a complete angel myself, but I have learned to be a lot wiser about it, selectively choosing a limited number of indulgences and working to counteract the effects of even those.
Plan for Day to Day Healthier Holidays
Holidays can throw us out of our regular routines and be stressful. There are gatherings of family and friends which can be wonderful, but they still take up time. Shopping, planning, cooking, running extra errands – these types of things take time too and can leave us feeling exhausted. For healthier holidays, eating healthy is one of the things that can quickly fall to the bottom of the priority list. However, with just a little bit of planning, you can keep yourself in control by avoiding situations where you may unintentionally self-sabotage.
Tips for Healthier Holidays:
Don’t skip meals and let yourself get too hungry or start snacking on less healthy snacks or fast food.
You can make some healthy snacks ahead of time that you can grab and take with you when you’re on the go. If you have some holiday shopping to do after work and you haven’t eaten dinner, it’s going to be easy to forego your healthy eating habits if the food court is beaconing because you’re starving. If you’ve got snacks to tide you over (especially ones containing protein), you’re less likely to fall into that trap.
Another easy tip is to make up some nutty snacks at the beginning of the week and carry some in your purse or car. Mix up some walnuts, almonds, seeds, raisins or cranberries, and a few chocolate chips for a higher protein pick-me-up.
Put some hummus in the bottom of a small mason jar, add some vegetable sticks and you have a ready-to-eat, nutritious mini-meal that can go just about anywhere. You can also do this with Greek yogurt and berries.
Healthier Holidays – Easy Ways to Indulge without Overdoing It
From cocktail parties to family dinners, the holidays center around FOOD! Follow these tips so that you are able to enjoy yourself and celebrate the holidays without breaking the food bank:
- Use a smaller plate. This is a simple concept but it works.
- If you’re choosing items from a buffet table, take the time to walk around the table first to see what your options are before deciding what to put on your plate. This way, you can choose what to eat versus sampling everything on the table.
- Use this same concept when sitting down to the dinner table for holiday dinners; wait until everything is on the table before deciding what to put on your plate. Eat what you truly love and skip the ordinary!
- Load up your plate with one half vegetables or salad and eat those first.
- Before you get seconds, wait at least ten minutes. Your food will have time to settle and you’ll be surprised how often you will change your mind.
- Eat a high-protein with vegetable type snack before going to holiday parties. You’ll be less ravenous and more proactive in your food choices.
- Bring a non-starchy vegetable dish to share; If there’s only stuffing and mashed potatoes to choose from, you’ve given yourself a healthier option, and you’re giving others the option of eating healthier too!
- Fill yourself up on meats and veggies as much as possible and eat smaller portions of sweet things.
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Not only are you more likely to become inebriated, your judgement will fly right out of the window when it comes to food choices. Alcohol is also high in calories.
- If you are going to drink alcohol, do so while eating. Have a glass of water between drinks. This will help you to drink/eat fewer calories and keep you hydrated. Another tip for drinking alcohol is to choose a smaller or skinnier glass.
- Eat slowly and take the time to savor what you’re eating.
- If you are the one cooking, substitute healthier ingredients when preparing foods. You can use stevia or coconut palm sugar as a substitute for some or all of the sugar called for in a recipe.
- Plan to send leftovers home with your guests; have to-go containers ready. This way your Thanksgiving or Holiday dinner doesn’t turn into four days of left-overs for you to eat.
- Try to incorporate some exercise such as taking a long walk after eating, which helps your food to digest and prevents the “food coma” feeling.
Get Your Zees
In addition to diet, sleep is also the foundation of good health. The holiday season can bring on added physical, mental, and emotional stress. If you aren’t getting adequate amounts of quality sleep, you will not be at your best and your immune system will become weakened. Studies have shown that poor sleep habits can even affect the way your body metabolizes food which will impact your weight. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929498/
If you’re having trouble winding down so you can fall asleep, there are apps that you can download for calming meditation or breathing exercises. I have found these to be particularly effective. I also sometimes use my apps when I wake up or throughout the day to “reset,” which allows me to be more mindful and not get as caught up in day to day stressors.
Healthier holidays is all about enjoying the holiday season with balance. Taking a proactive approach and making little changes to your routine will help achieve this.
Here are a few healthier holidays recipes from my family to yours:
- 1 cup finely chopped, soaked and roasted pecans
- ½ cup Coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon of SweetLeaf stevia or 2 teaspoons of coconut palm sugar.
- 4 tablespoons butter (softened or melted)
- 1 (15 ounce) can organic pumpkin (not pie mix or any added sugar, just pumpkin)
- 3/4 cup whole whipping cream or coconut cream
- 1 cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Sugar options: 2 teaspoons of SweetLeaf stevia or a quarter cup of coconut palm sugar (or a combination of both).
- 1 cup whole whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon stevia
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Mix pecans, coconut flour, stevia and butter in a bowl until well mixed. Put into non-stick pie pan and spread and press into pie crust formation.
- Bake pie crust for 10 minutes or until slightly toasted. (Watch closely as it will burn easily.) Pull out and let cool.
- Whisk pumpkin, whipping cream, water, eggs, stevia and/or coconut palm sugar, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Mix with mixer until smooth. Pour into crust.
- Bake 15 minutes at 425 F.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Let cool.
- Using high speed mixer, whip the whipping cream, vanilla and stevia until fluffy and it hold stiffened peaks.
- Slice and serve topped with whipped cream.
2 packages (12 oz each) organic cranberries
Zest and juice of one orange
1 cup of water
3 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon stevia
In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, water, orange zest and juice, cinnamon and sweeteners. Add more water if needed to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the sauce has thickened. Taste for sweetness, and adjust with if necessary. You can not overcook, so continue cooking until you have a good thick consistency. Let mixture cool, then refrigerate in a covered container.