Two of the major issues that we all face during the holidays are weight gain and resisting temptation. With so many parties, get-togethers, and family gatherings during the holidays, food seems to be the primary focus that connects these activities. Imagine a gathering without cheese, wine, and tantalizing pastries of all kinds. It is also hard to imagine a family gathering without heavy meat dishes, old traditions of family casseroles, and rich desserts.
Holistic Nutrition During The Holidays
Although difficult to resist the pressure to eat these “special” and rich dishes and so that family members and friends will not be offended, there are ways to enjoy the festivities without guilt. It is at these holiday times that old tastes and preferences surface along with a compelling need to feel emotionally satisfied with these nurturing family traditions – whether they are healthy or not.
So, how do you break out of this emotional cycle and not be seduced by unhealthy choices?
Here are some tips that should help you get through the holidays, avoid gaining weight, and feel good about your ability to make healthy choices:
- Go Light on the Appetizers – Chips and dips, candied nuts, breads and cheeses can be filling and cause bloating before the real eating has even started. Before parties, fill up with two cups of water. You’ll have a sense of fullness and helps you to avoid over-consumption of the appetizers.
- Skip the Breads and Rolls – You don’t really need these highly refined carbohydrates. With mashed potatoes, stuffing and yams, the extra carbs from refined bread is too much. Wheat bread expands in the stomach (especially with beer) and is one of the most common causes for digestive upset. Stick with whole grain crackers.
- Use real Butter – Margarine is not healthier than butter. It is a highly processed food that contains trans-fats, which are oils that have been structurally altered and are known carcinogens. Skip the Crisco for pie crusts. Use real butter or coconut oil; your crust will be flaky and rich, and it won’t give you cancer.
- Serve Sparkling Cider Instead of Soda – Kids love it! It’s a drink they don’t get to have everyday and is much healthier than commercial sodas. Add a little lemon or lime juice and frozen raspberries for a festive color and fruity taste.
- Do a fruit-fast or juice-fast once a week or bimonthly during these holidays. It will help rid the body of the extra toxic load.
- Eat before the party or gathering. Don’t go to the party hungry or famished. Eat a piece of fruit and some cheese or a hard-boiled egg or several deli turkey slices before you attend the event. This should take the edge off of your hunger and, hopefully, give you better control of your eating.
- Continue to Exercise even on the cold or rainy days. Jumping jacks on the living room floor or running in place for 15 minutes is still better than doing nothing.
- Don’t Pile Food more than 1 inch high or within 2 inches of the plate’s edge. Larger portions equal more calories. (As per Dr. Oz)
- Don’t Graze at parties or home. Plan your meal before you open the refrigerator; get what you need, and close the door. Opening it throughout the day leads to impulsive choices and overeating. At parties, plan on filling your plate with what you want and eat what you’ve chosen. Grazing at parties leads to over-consumption of food without realizing what you’ve done.
- Choose only the Hors d’oeuvres that are the most healthful. If there are any fresh vegetables available, mix in-between the hors d’oeuvres.
- Limit sweets as much as possible during these months. Sugars will lower your immune system and leave you vulnerable to colds and flu. Instead of having a slice of every pie available, choose one slice of one pie.
- Try Maple Syrup Instead of Brown Sugar – Commercial brown sugar is refined white sugar with caramel color (molasses if your lucky) added back to it after refining. Although it is a simple sugar, maple syrup absorbs slower into the bloodstream than refined sugar. Use it for candying yams and pumpkin pie filling.
- Offer to bring some of your own food if you are on a special diet, and won’t be able to eat beforehand, to complement your meal with the dishes that you can eat.
- Stay Alkalized – To much dietary acid from meats, dairy products and sweets can throw the body’s delicate pH balance out of whack. This causes stress, irritability and acid indigestion. To balance pH, try 10 ounces of water mixed with 1 drop lemon essential oil and 1 drop peppermint essential oil for several days after a holiday party. Chlorella will also help balance pH as well.
- Relax and Find Some Alone Time – Holidays can be stressful, and family can sometimes add to the load. Throughout the weekend, make sure to take some time alone for a walk, to read, take a nap or just sit by yourself and breathe. Even 15 minutes by yourself with your feet propped up can bring you back into a calm and balanced frame of mind.
- Make a Wild Rice Stuffing – Unlike refined bread and stuffings that are high in simple carbohydrates, wild rice is a whole grain complex carbohydrate that absorbs gently into the bloodstream. It’s high in fiber (your guests will thank you later!) and is a good source of B vitamins and minerals.
- Choose an Organic Turkey – Ask around at your local farmers’ market for small farms that raise holiday turkeys. Small and local farms are best: the birds are better cared for and the meat is that much fresher. Always choose a farm that doesn’t use antibiotics, hormones or preservatives on their turkeys.
- Enjoy the harvest and winter season with an abundance of vegetables. These foods are packed withvitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, and naturally make for colorful centerpieces.
- Drink Lots of Water – Staying hydrated is key. The digestive organs need additional water to process the extra amounts of carbohydrate and alcohol. Make a point to drink at least a half a cup of water every hour, and make sure your kids are drinking water throughout the day, too.
- Make it Yourself – If you make it, you know exactly what’s in it. It’s also fresher. Skip the canned cranberries, salad dressings, candied yams, packaged pies, and pumpkin puree; making them yourself with fresh ingredients is easy and the food will taste markedly better. You can also monitor the sugar content.
Most of all, enjoy the company during these holiday times, and don’t make the food the only reason that you are attending or organizing the gathering. Food is to nourish, not nurture.
By Christine Andrew, C.N.C.