Tips for Staying Healthy Through The Holiday Season
Plan Non-Food-Centered Activities: Take the focus off food. There are so many ways to spend time together besides cooking, baking, and eating. Instead of decorating cookies and gingerbread houses, make non-edible crafts like wreaths, paper snowflakes, or holiday cards. Bundle up to take a walk around the neighborhood and rank the best decorated houses. And light a fire to gather around while you play charades or watch holiday movies.
Bring Snacks To The Mall: Welcome to the real jungle. There's no denying how tempting it is seeing peppermint mochas or smelling cinnamon rolls (from a mile away, no less). And with the stress of the crowds and finding the right gifts for everyone, you can be in over your head fast. You have to be smart enough to sidestep these hazards. The easiest way to make it out alive? Pack filling healthy snacks like nuts, a piece of fruit, or a bag of air popped popcorn, and you won't need a search and rescue team to pull you out of the food court.
Make Your Own Hot Chocolate: Ditch the packaged powders and go for the real thing. Many hot chocolate powders are convenient and boast very few calories, but they are chock full of artificial sweeteners and chemicals! Our recipe uses maca, a powder grown in the Andes Mountains of Peru and packed with nutrients, and cacao powder, a less-processed version of cocoa powder that's a great source of antioxidants. Spend a cozy afternoon in the kitchen with your kids and cuddle up in with this super food hot chocolate recipe.
Boil water or warm milk on the stove and let cool slightly, then mix in the following ingredients:
-2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
-2 teaspoons maca powder
-1 tablespoon coconut sugar
-1 teaspoon honey
-Pinch sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and pure vanilla
-1 ½ cups milk of your choice or water
Be Mindful of Your Hunger Quotient: Your HQ is a measure of how hungry you are at a given time - famished, satisfied, stuffed. Try to be in tune with your HQ and let hunger dictate when you eat (versus having a serving of stuffing just because your sister brought it over). On a scale of 1-10 (1 being stuffed, 10 being famished), you want to be between a 4 (slightly hungry) and a 6 (slightly satisfied) all the time.
How To Curb Cravings At Holiday Parties:
Don't Go To a Party Hungry: One of the biggest mistakes I see during the holidays is people arriving to parties starving! It's easy to think that the less you eat earlier in the day, the more room you'll have to eat later at the party...and the less damage you'll do overall. But this mindset has disaster written all over it! Instead, think this way: ruin your appetite. Have a healthy, filling snack before the party so that you won't be tempted to dive into the spinach and artichoke dip as soon as you arrive. A hardboiled egg, a slice of turkey, or a Greek yogurt are all small but satisfying options that you can have at home prior to making your big entrance.
Bring Your Own Healthy Dish: It's never polite to go to a party empty-handed, right? So why not bring a healthy dish you know you can rely on? Bring a salad with delicious, colorful toppings like cranberries, roasted carrots and squash. Think of it as your safety net so that you won't have to worry if there's nothing but diet-busters being served. We're sure you're not the only one who will appreciate a dish that's (finally!) not candied, casseroled, or drowning in gravy.
Scope Out The Entire Party Spread: Once you get to the party, take your time. This is very important. It's easy to jump at the first thing and every different thing you see. You know how it goes: there's the cheese and crackers, then the pigs in a blanket, then the shrimp cocktail, and then all the main course dishes... And studies show people eat more when they're offered a greater variety of foods. By taking a tour of all the food first, you won't fall into this trap. Walk around and look at everything, deciding what's healthiest and what you want the most. And only after you've seen it all should you decide what to put on your plate. That way, you can make an informed decision you'll be proud of at the end of the night. There just may be some healthy options you want to indulge in!
Socialize (And Not Just With The Bartender!): You're at a party. With PEOPLE. It's not all about the food. Enjoy talking to and reconnecting with family, friends, and coworkers. If you make an effort to socialize, you'll not only enjoy the night more, but you'll be too preoccupied to think about that pecan pie every 2.2 seconds. A word of caution: be wary of "food pushers", those who refuse to take "no" for an answer when offering unhealthy treats. My advice? Keep saying no, as many times as you have to. And don't feel bad! It's a GOOD thing that you put your health first. Just decline politely and hopefully Great-Aunt Sarah will stop trying to hand you sugar cookies.
Keri Glassman, nationally recognized nutrition expert and co-founder of MommyCoach, has put together a couple of tips for how to stay healthy, and how to help curb your appetite. If you're unfamiliar, MommyCoach is a new online community for moms around the country to connect with leading experts and coaches for advice, encouragement, and answers to those hard-to-crack questions.