It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But with endless holiday parties, seasonal treats, and busy schedules, it can be easy to forgo our normal healthy habits. Camelback Village Registered Dietitian Jamie Miller has some key tipsonhow we can maintain our health this holiday season. There’s no reason to feel less than our best by the time New Year’s Day rolls around!
Don’t Accept “Defeat”
There is no need to “write off” the entire month of December as a complete wash. While the holidays may bring a few challenges to eating healthy, let the “good” outweigh the “bad. Perfection and success are not equal— we can still have success in reaching our health goals even if a Christmas cookie (or two!) is enjoyed throughout the season, with moderation in mind!
Keep a Healthy Rhythm
As our calendars fill up with holiday festivities and fun, we still want to maintain consistency with our physical activity and balanced eatingby getting a bit creative..! Optimize your time with HIIT (high-intensityinterval training) or circuit workouts. If you’reshort on time and don’tmake it to the gym, try quick workouts from home. Since the holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, enjoy active fun with your family. That could be an evening walk to look at Christmas lights, a family hike, or a friendly game of basketball.
We also must take time to enjoy regular balanced meals. It’s easy to skip meals due to busy schedules or because we want to “save up” calories for later events, such as a holiday party. However, “under eating” in order to overeat sets us up for an unhealthy cycle that can cause digestion issues, low energy,and even harm our metabolism. When we do have upcoming events where the food may be more decadent, it’s smart to prioritize lean protein and plenty of vegetables during the meals and snacks leading up to the party. Make sure you eat enough so you don’t go into the party so ravenous that you eat large amounts of food because of heightened hunger. Nourishing your body properly throughout the day will allow you to better navigate special events and make smart, balanced choices.
Prioritize Your Indulgences
With the holidays comes lots of treats but don’t write delicious treats off as “bad”, the key is to incorporate these into balanced meals. Make sure you first fill your stomach with lean protein, plenty of produce, moderate complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. With satisfied hunger, we can then satisfy our cravings in moderate amounts without the guilt. And be sure to prioritize your indulgences! Wait for a treatthatis “totally worth it” and is something you absolutely love. That may mean skipping a“so-so” cookie from a co-worker to wait and have a slice your family’s famous apple pie.
When you do have an indulgence, really savor it. For example, instead of just tossing a cookie into your mouth on the way past the kitchen, try sitting down with the cookie. Put it on a plate, maybe warm it in the microwave,andmake a cup of tea to sip on with it.Slow down enough to truly enjoy the experience! You can have a sensible guilt-free portion, and then bounce back to another healthy choice. Balance is the key tobeinghealthyduring theholidaysand all yearround!
Make Nourishing Side Dishes
When it comes to holiday dinners, the star of the show is often an awesome lean protein source suchasturkey, ham, roast beef, or fish. The side dishes are what usually make holiday meals less nutritious. So the key to keepingmeals balanced but satisfying is to elevate lighter dishes so they aren’t “second-rate” to the other more heavy options. Use different colors, textures, and variety of quality, in-season ingredients to increase the dish’s appeal. Try to choose a dish that is low fat and calories but high in fiber and flavor. A great example is this Holiday Salad recipe below that highlights seasonal ingredients like pears, pomegranate, and pecans to create a delicious, yet nutritious side dish to share with family and friends!
- 10 oz. arugula or green of choice
- 2 ripe pears
- 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted
- 3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
- 3/4 cup pomegranate arils
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Creamy Balsamic Dressing, balsamic glaze, and olive oil, or dressing of choice to taste
Creamy Balsamic Dressing
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. honey or ½ Tbsp. Truvia
- 1/8 tsp. garlic and onion powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place arugula, pear, pomegranate seeds, and nuts in a large bowl. Toss with a dressing of choice until just coated and then sprinkle with goat cheese. Tossing the salad before adding the goat cheese ensures the cheese doesn’t get lumpy.