Holiday’s entice many of us to overindulge at family gatherings, reunions, Christmas and work parties, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and more. Notice the plethora of choices of sugar and processed foods such as pies, cakes, cookies, alcohol, fried foods, and foods prepared in creams and sauces. Sound familiar?
It is time to plan ahead, think smart, and kick your healthy habits into high gear. Do not let temptation get to you. You are stronger than you think. Your health is more valuable than the temporary satisfaction that sugar provides, and the inevitable cravings that follow. Studies have shown that the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season. This adds up year after year. What’s more dangerous are the processed ingredients such as vegetable and canola oils, white flour, butter, creams, food colorings, and artificial sugars and sweeteners.
Choosing foods that offer rich, dense nutrients your body can use for energy and nourishment will keep you satisfied and happy. Remember, calories are a source of energy. There is a difference between good and bad calories. 300 bad calories are not equivalent to 300 good calories. Your body will store bad calories as fat.
Count on using these tips to stay healthy during the holiday season.
- Create a checklist and make sure vegetables, fruits, whole grains (think Ancient Grains such as quinoa, amaranth, farro, and kamut), organic, grass-fed meats, and wild-caught fish are on the menu. Fill up on the good stuff so you don’t have room for the bad stuff!.
- Serve healthy, filling appetizers that are satisfying, such as shrimp cocktail, raw vegetables and hummus or guacamole dip, whole-grain seeded crackers and organic cheese spreads and jam, fruit salad, and fresh fruit skewers.
- Steer clear of creams, sauces, butter, and dishes swimming in oil. These make it easy to pack on the calories. Rather, use fresh squeezed lemon, low-sodium vegetable broth, or a home-made cream such as cashew cream, made with cashews, water, cinnamon, and dates.
- Substitute and choose healthier options that offer nutritional value high in vitamins and minerals your body can use such as Ezekiel bread (sprouted whole-grain bread) instead of white bread, sweet potato instead of white potato and quinoa instead of rice. Roast or grill vegetables and meats instead of frying.
- Have fun and be creative with dessert! Think chocolate covered fruits, fruit parfaits, pumpkin pie made with coconut milk rather than condensed milk, or fruit tarts.
- Drink plenty of water! It is easy to mistake thirst for hunger. Fill up on water to help aide in digestion, keep your metabolism going, and keep cravings and binge-like behaviors at bay.
- Exercise first thing in the morning. Working out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach allows you to burn more fat and calories, and sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you exercise, you are less likely to make poor decisions throughout the day.