Be healthy always, cheers to the holidays!
I know I know, there are articles about “how to survive the holidays” all over! It has begun! We are barely in December and titles of this kind abound already. I do not pretend to have THE ultimate answer but I certainly have little tips, which I am sure can make a difference, because I use them myself. Even if you retain only a few of these and it helps you feel better at this time of festivities, I will have accomplished my mission.
At this time of the year, no one is interested in starting a fitness program or a new food plan and I understand 100%! We want to be able to let go, we want to focus on spending time with our loved ones and it’s the time for office parties, family celebrations, weekend brunches, and that, all throughout the month of December. But year after year, people often completely let go of their good habits during the holidays and in the New Year, they expect to start from scratch. They are very motivated at first but then they give up very quickly because they expect immediate results. What I propose is to stop this idea of “all or nothing”! There are little things you can do throughout the month of December without depriving yourself, which can make a huge difference!! And then, if in January you want to tighten your regimen, it’s ok, but you will not have to be so military about it and you can continue to enjoy life.
Healthy tips for the month of December :
1. Without depriving yourself of anything, be sure to eat certain foods with powerful nutritional value to at least get the important nutrients that will actually nourish you and give you energy!
- Remember to always eat fresh fruit. For example,start your day off right by eating a cup of berries (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries) at breakfast or keep in the office apples, oranges, bananas for a quick snack. Fruits are packed with vitamins and antioxidants which are both imperative for your immune system at this time of year.
- Eat as much vegetables as possible. Even if you eat more decadent meals and snacks in these festive times, accompany with some vegetables that will give you again vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
- Always remember to combine your carbohydrates with a small source of protein to keep your blood sugar stable. For example, you can take some nuts, hummus, plain yogurt, a piece of cheese or a hard-boiled egg when you are snacking on a Christmas cookie, slice of fruit cake, or piece of chocolate. Again, the idea is not to eat more, but to balance your sources of nutrients.
- Always drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated and to prevent constipation.By being well nourished, you risk being less tempted by all the sweets that will be offered to you in these festive times.
Remember, you want to indulge a little but at the same time, you want to feel well throughout the month.
2. At the beginning of each week, look at your schedule, plan ahead and know which meals will be outside the house or in a festive setting.
“Example: Week of December 3-9”
Tuesday noon: Festive dinner with main supplier
Wednesday morning: Breakfast at the children’s school
Friday midday: Christmas lunch for the sales team at the office
Saturday night: Christmas party of the spouse
During this week, for example, there will be 4 festive meals. You will try the rest of the time to stick to your good habits (it’s still 17 meals that you can control by yourself). Surely one of these festive meals will be at one of your favorite restaurants? Or one of these might be featuring your favorite dish or dessert? Choose this particular event and decide that you will eat what you want at this meal. For the others, make small concessions without depriving yourself. Go for the glass of wine and leave the dessert. Change your fries for a salad but still eat your favorite pizza. Leave the bread at the beginning of the meal and do enjoy your favorite pasta dish. Avoid soft drinks, instead drink sparkling water and do share a dessert at the end of the meal. It will be different for everyone but certainly the small compromises you will make will be beneficial to your energy levels and long term health.
3. When cooking traditional holiday foods, reduce sugars, fats, and other less desirable ingredients.
During the holiday season, traditional recipes from a long time ago are often cooked. We do not question the ingredients too much because they are traditions. On the other hand, it is often possible to reduce the sugar without harming the recipe or to reduce the amount of fat or change the bad fats for good fats. Certainly, you have to have some knowledge in cooking if you want to succeed, but still, I would encourage you to not follow recipes without questioning. I know it’s the holidays and it’s definitely time to enjoy and not think too much, but the problem is that when you indulge for a full month by eating sweets and traditional foods every day and even several times per day, the return to reality is difficult after. All I’m saying is that if we can cook things that are just as delicious but that will provide us with energy instead of taking away from us, why not adapt to a few small changes.
- Making pastry dough with 100% butter instead of vegetable shortening (make sure you follow a recipe that calls for butter)
- Adding less butter and salt to your mashed potatoes
- Making gravy from scratch instead of using a processed mix
- Making salad dressings and sauces that don’t require too much sugar
- Using olive, coconut, or avocado oil when cooking instead of Canola oil.
You can also search the Internet to find healthy recipes with better ingredients.