Eating to Feel Great in the Season of Joy and Feasting
Starting next week, what gathering will not feature rich deserts to be enjoyed (never passed over) after a rich meal? It wouldn’t be a holiday season without plenty of opportunities to overindulge and to eat what we consider fattening foods. This is the nature of Thanksgiving (proceeded of course by Halloween- we need not forget) and followed closely by Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve! And along with this comes all the reasons that we may over-indulge during the holiday season; if not for the sake of tradition, we eat due to stress and fatigue of all the busy-ness and demands that come with the season. But most of all, it’s just fun to eat, and eating is part of the Joy of the season.
I know why I love the holidays- nostalgia. And for me it’s all about the tradition, smells, and joy of preparing delicious foods as the focus of gatherings and gifts. However, not long ago I decided that I was all done with baking 300 cookies to give as gifts to friends and relatives that were already inundated with sweets and treats of the season. No one seemed to miss it! It was a much less stressful season for me. This decision came at the start of my career as a naturopathic doctor and was just one way that I began to slowly change the nature of the feasting season so that it didn’t pack on 5 lbs and a load of unnecessary stress.
The following is not a list of ways to make your holiday stuffing “low fat” or your Christmas cookies “sugar free”. I am a good cook and know that butter and sugar are a necessary part of delicious holiday food!
The key is, as always, moderation and balance. Here are 5 easy suggestions to make a difference in your feasting season:
1. Eat Healthy for 5 out of 7 Days. If your holiday gatherings are on weekends, you have the other 4- 6 days each week to eat as healthy as possible with 1 serving leafy greens, 2 servings of other vegetables (broccoli, carrots, beets, among the best), and 3 servings of whole fruits daily. On non-feast days, (weekdays for example) avoid sugar & white flour, and eat fewer than 3 servings of grains/pasta/potato each day.
2. Eat Healthy the Day of the Event. In anticipation of a holiday feast eat moderately for the meals that proceed it. You can still get in your one serving of leafy greens, two servings of colored vegetables, and 2-3 fresh fruits during the day if you know that it won’t be possible at the evening meal.
3. Bring a Healthy Dish. If you are going to attend a pot luck, bring something healthy but tasty, such as mixed green salad topped with cranberries, pecans and mandarin oranges to make it special. You can fill your plate with this if there are few other vegetable options at the event. I guarantee that you will have complements from others if you make the effort to bring this type of dish instead of a plate of cookies or pumpkin pie.
4. Send Your Guests Packing. If you are the host of a holiday feast, send your guests home with food! Your guests will be glad to go home with a foil-covered plate full of your delicious dinner or dessert. Don’t even ask them before you make a plate for them to take home. Less left-over in your house means less that you’ll be feasting on for the days after your event.
5. Just say NO to the holiday candy jar or “goodie” table at work. Eating sugar at work will lead to cravings that eventually get you many more calories and much less energy to get through your work-day.
Implementing these suggestions will help to keep weight off and will keep you feeling better throughout the holidays.
Enjoy a healthy and happy holiday season!