YAY it’s that time once again! What are you getting up to on this first fine weekend of December? Tomorrow I’ve got a work Christmas party to attend and I’m super excited for turkey! 🙂 There might also be some Christmas decorating going down if I have time – since it’s December and everything! I’m normally pretty quick to jump on these things but after reading some of my favourite blogs recently, I feel like one of the only ones who hasn’t busted out the tree yet!
Since there are going to be lots of fun
holiday events coming up over the next month, I felt it was only appropriate to write a post about getting through the holidays without derailing your healthy eating habits. And recipes? Oh yes, I’ve got one of those too. But first….
A Healthy Gal’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Festivities
(without growing a Santa belly!)
- Snack smart: Eat a small snack before heading out to evening functions. This helps to ensure that by the time dinner rolls around, you’re not famished and wanting to eat everything in sight. Some healthy options include veggies and hummus, yogurt and fruit, or peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast. These snacks all contain fiber and protein, which should help to keep hunger and cravings from taking over.
- Participate in potlucks: I love these events because it gives you a chance to sample other people’s cooking and discover things you may have never tried before. If you’re attending a potluck, bring along a healthy dish to share with everyone. This way, if most other options are not very nutritious, you’ve made sure that there’s something there for you to eat.
- Remember to water your body! Since it’s cold in the winter, it can be tempting to forego water for hot beverages such as tea or coffee. Because these drinks are diuretics, they cause us to become dehydrated. By keeping a reusable waterbottle with you throughout the day, you can keep track of how much you’re drinking.
- Be cocktail-conscious. Don’t forget about water if you’re drinking alcohol. Like tea and coffee, alcohol also dehydrates our systems. In addition, it can be loaded with empty calories that I’m sure you’d far rather spend on food! To avoid a headache in the morning, try to alternate cocktails with glasses of water.
- … and on that note, if you are drinking alcohol, consider one of these Healthy Holiday Cocktails – hot apple cider or Pomegranate Champagne Punch anyone?
- Get enough sleep. When we’re tired, we tend to be more irritable and likely to make unhealthy food choices – often high-sugar ones. Lack of sleep leads to a decrease in the amount of dopamine (a feel-good hormone) produced by the body, which can trigger cravings for sugar to try to re-create the same feeling. (For more about how this works, check out this source.) Make sure you’re getting enough rest, especially after late nights out. I strongly recommend naps – they’re the best!!
- Fill up on seasonal produce. Often low in calories and high in fiber, fall and winter fruits and veggies are super healthy and will help to fill you up (not to mention prevent colds and flu, like I discussed in this post.) What’s in season? Look for onions, carrots, apples, squash, parsnips, leeks, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. For a longer list, check out this article from the Food Network.
- Take the focus away from food. Sure, food is a huuuuuge part of holiday festivities – at least in my family it is (Remember Thanksgiving?) but it doesn’t have to be the focus. Remember those people you’re spending it with? They’re pretty important too! Especially if you haven’t seen them in a long time….
Holiday get-togethers can be centered around other things like house or tree decorating, Christmas card making, games, snowman building contests (channel your inner 8-year-old spirit – you know you want to!), ice skating or other outdoor activities.
- Don’t confuse emotions for hunger. As much as I really do love holiday festivities, there’s no denying that they can be a stressful time – especially for people like me that always happen to leave Christmas shopping to the last minute. You’d think I’d have learned by now, wouldn’t you?! Anyways, the point of this is to remember to eat mindfully, not just because you’re stressed out or because everyone else you’re with is digging in. It’s ok to say no if you really just aren’t hungry!
- Keep Moving! Just because it’s getting chilly, this doesn’t mean we can stop exercising! In addition to keeping bellies at bay (for the record, I don’t like the word belly but I’ve already used it 2 – no, 3 times in this post) but it’s also a great opportunity to try activities that you wouldn’t normally do, like ice skating, skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing (I want to try this!!!). If outdoors isn’t really your thing, use some of your holiday time to try a new class at a local gym or community center.
- Don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself! Let’s face it, it’s not every day that we get to eat freshly-baked Christmas cookies, gingerbread, candy canes, and all the other delicious holiday goodies like these….
…so nothing should be off limits. However, by keeping portions small and only eating when you’re hungry (just like you would during the rest of the year), you can enjoy the treats without worrying about not being able to fit into your jeans in January.
And that recipe I mentioned? Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten! Last weekend I experimented with a few appetizers, and after Curry Spiced Roasted Chickpeas, Roasted Tomato and Balsamic Bruschetta was my next favourite. This recipe is super easy to make, and leftovers (if you have any!) can be added to pasta sauces and other roasted veggie side dishes. It all starts with a few cups of these….
…which are mixed with spices, herbs, balsamic and olive oil to create this….
… which then goes into the oven for half an hour, and eventually looks something like this…
…and could be enjoyed in a plethora of ways, including like this:
Alright guys, that’s all for me this week! I’ll leave you with my questions for today:
- What is your favourite holiday dish to make?
- Do you have any tips to add to my list? Please share!