Healthy Holiday Eating

We all know the holidays are the perfect time for all our good intentions about eating healthy to be sabotaged left and right.  I wonder why – who said that egg nog was somehow more delicious than a fruit smoothie?  Why would I be drawn to white mashed potatoes with butter instead of roasted red potatoes drizzled with oil and fresh rosemary?  Who decided that apple pie with ice cream is somehow more festive than a healthy apple crisp flavored with some nuts, raisins, and pure maple syrup?

All too often, we let ourselves be tricked by mind games and say, “Well, it’s the holidays.  It’s okay to have that huge slice of cheesecake, because how else are we supposed to celebrate?”

It’s actually easier than you think to enjoy all your favorite foods – of course in moderation – by making a few simple substitutions and shifting your mindset. Here are a few quick ideas to help you make it through the season without putting on a few pounds or just plain feeling run down.

iStock_000011543182SmallTry to Attend Events with Like-Minded People

If you have friends who know that eating healthy is the best way to keep your spirits bright, plan a party where everyone brings a dish that will contribute to the group’s collective health, instead of ruining everyone’s good intentions!

Bring foods to all parties you attend. 

A typical party might have a roast beef with buttery mashed potatoes, veggies soaked in butter, and all kinds of pies, cakes, and cookies made with sugar and white flour.  Add to the table yourself!  Make a healthy sweet potato dish to put alongside the roast beef, and a big side of beautiful roasted vegetables. If you want the meat, have just a slice, and top the meal off with your own homemade whole grain oatmeal cookie, sweetened with maple syrup.  With just a few substitutions, you have not only avoided disaster, but created a healthy and satisfying meal for yourself and perhaps even a few other health conscious guests.

For your own family’s meals…

You can easily create a feast that fills the belly, heart, and soul in a healthy way.  You have control over where your food comes from and how to prepare it.  Try some delicious creamy soups made with nuts as the base, instead of cream sauces.  Bake whole grain breads from scratch – the aroma in the kitchen alone will lift everyone’s moods!

HolidaySpicesThink about the flavors of the season.

See where you can capitalize on them in a healthy way.  Cinnamon is used in all kinds of “bad” foods, but the spice itself is a superfood that, used the right way in a tea or fruit crisp recipe, can be a real boost to your health.  And of course, for many of us, a little “bad” food on occasion won’t ruin our health.  Just don’t forget to keep eating a high nutrient diet even as you enjoy that slice of pie.  If you do, you may even find your desire for the bad foods will slowly go away.

In fact, it’s a powerful shift in your mind to go from thinking, “I want that, but I can’t have it” to “I can have it, but I don’t want it.”  And why wouldn’t you want that amazing strawberry cheesecake?  Because you know that some foods don’t do anything for your body, but they do all kinds of awful things to it.  You don’t want that, and besides… you know that the holidays really aren’t about food anyway.  There is so much more meaning to the season, and when we focus on our faith, family and friends first, the food takes its proper place at the party – as fuel, not focus.

Happy Holidays to everyone! 

By Jennifer Nyx

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