The holiday season is often a time where people tend to slip up and ignore their health. It is just so hard to exercise when the weather is drizzly, it is dark outside, and it is much easier to stay at home, drink hot chocolate, and eat all the carbs. I always struggle during this season, especially when visiting family and going to parties where the food is not always healthy. This only makes the holiday times less enjoyable, as I end up feeling sick, bloated, and cranky the whole time from all the sugar and excess carbs. This year I am determined to make the most of my time with my family and friends without the guilt and sickness of unhealthy holiday foods.
Here are some of my goals and suggestions for how to enjoy the holidays with optimal health:
Tip #1: Bring your own dessert.
That way you always know there is something without HFCS, dairy, gluten, refined sugar, or whatever else you’re trying to avoid.
Besides, you can never go wrong with bringing chocolate cake to a friend’s house.
Tip #2: Offer to cook.
What I try to do when visiting my family is offer to cook before and after the holidays. This relieves stress from my family members, especially my mom who does most of the holiday food, and it ensures that I get to stick to the foods I want to and feel good eating!
Do keep it simple though, as cooking for lots of people can be a little time consuming when you are really there to visit with each other. Here are some ideas of quick, nourishing, and crowd-pleasing meals I will be making when I go visit my family in December:
1.Chili - Always a great comfort meal that everyone loves.
2.Salmon Cakes - A perfect way to get some omega-3’s (and also make people think you are fancier than you are!)
3.Stuffed Portabellas - Don’t judge by the horrible photography. These guys are so good!
Tip #3: Make your own lattes.
This isn’t as much related to family or friend get-togethers, but it is no less of a common problem during the holiday season.
Lattes are SO easy to whip up – there is absolutely no reason why you should waste 20 minutes driving to Starbucks to spend $4 on a pumpkin spice latte (which, by the way, contains no pumpkin at all!) when you can make one in three minutes in your blender or even with a fork.
Just whip together coffee, milk or cream, maple syrup, wintery spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, etc), and butter if desired in a blender.
Tip #4: Explain.
Something I always get self conscious about is when I forget to bring a dessert or don’t have time to or whatever may be the case and people treat me strangely for not “participating in holiday traditions,” aka not joining in dessert or alcoholic drinks. Rather than saying “I’m trying to be healthy” and sounding like you are judging others or risking them thinking that you feel as if you are better than them, I have found that simply saying “I don’t feel well when I eat X” works well. If you just explain to people that you get sick when you eat too much sugar, drinks, etc., they are generally pretty understanding. Just say you have a weak stomach or something and they usually leave you alone.
Tip #5: Drink smarter
Another way calories can really stack up is through drinks. I’m not just talking about alcoholic drinks (although they are a huge part of the problem), but there are other sugary drinks that are just as much of a culprit in the holiday health sabotage. Hot chocolate, apple cider, and eggnog drinks are all basically liquid sugar!
1.100% apple cider
2.Try making your own hot chocolate in a crockpot!
Tip #6: Don’t beat yourself up for having a piece of Grandma’s pie.
Stress will hurt your body worse than the harm sugar causes. I read this article by Chris Kresser that has totally changed my perspective about slip-ups. Not that I think it is ok to binge or to eat refined sugar (except on very rare occasions), but I definitely mess up and eat sugar more than I am happy about. I always beat myself up for days afterward, which I knew hurt me emotionally, but I never connected that this emotional stress could harm me physically too.
So those are my tips. How about you, what do you do to keep a healthy balance during the holidays?