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A Short Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating

A Short Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating

The holidays can feel like they last months. The end of October through the beginning of January the holidays can be all we talk about from the travel to the parties to the food. 

 

During this time people often write off any healthy habits they once had and throw them out the window with the notion that they’ll start over in January. Or they take the opposite approach and do juice cleanses and quick fix diets between each holiday to try and stay slim and trim and justify eating more than they can handle for one day.

 

The problem with the extreme of saying “screw it” all holiday season long and the other extreme of fad diets is that neither of those are sustainable or enjoyable.

 

Both leave you feeling sluggish, kind of gross, and don’t result in long term weight maintenance or health. 

 

My name is Leena and I’m a practical nutritionist. Today I’m sharing a short guide to healthy holiday eating so you can walk away from this season feeling normal around food and in control of your decisions.

 

Practical Tip #1 - Mindset

 

When it comes to food, mindset matters more than you’d think. Here are some important reminders I tell my clients to note during the holidays.

 

  • It’s just ONE day! Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, are all just one day. One day of a little more food than normal doesn’t justify weeks or months of restrictive dieting to “earn” a higher calorie meal. 
  • You can have all of this food ANY time. Yep, you can eat Thanksgiving turkey and pecan pie in the summer if you wanted to. You don’t need to stuff your stomach until you can’t breathe because it’s the “only” time you’ll have it. You also don’t need to buy pecan pie all season long because it’s in season. You can buy or make your favorite foods all year long. So have it in a portion that feels good to you on the holidays - not necessarily the portion that makes you want to nap for 3 days.
  • Holiday food isn’t as “bad” as you think it is. Turkey and ham are protein. Potatoes are filling high fiber carbs. Veggies can be added as any side or any salad. And there’s no shortage of sweet treats. Holiday meals are inherently balanced in nature. It’s the portion sizes that don’t make us feel great, not the food itself.
  • And on that note, it’s okay to feel a little more full on a holiday. It’s nothing to panic about, it happens. Reflect on how it made you feel and what you might want to change or adjust next time. Then move on guilt free. Food is meant to be enjoyed.
  • That being said, there’s more to the holidays than the food. The real joy of the holidays is the people around you and the experiences. Relish in that. Food is just food. It’s replaceable. The people in our lives aren’t. Try putting them first. 

 

Practical Tip #2 - Structured Meal Times

 

We structure everything in our days from the time we wake up, to the times we work, to the time we spend with family or running errands. Why not have some structure to our meal times? Eating is something we have to do several times a day. Having a rough plan around it even during the holidays can help you stay structured and on plan.

 

For a lot of my clients this looks like eating breakfast anytime between 8 and 10am, lunch anywhere between 12-2pm, and dinner somewhere around 5-8pm depending on the person. While this seems obvious, it’s really easy for people to skip meals around the holidays in an attempt to save room for a bigger holiday meal often leading to a binge, overeating, and restricting the next day following an unhealthy cycle of under and over eating. 

 

Spreading out your calories more evenly throughout the day between 3 meals helps keep your hunger managed, your hormones in balance, and your decision making around food choices more in control when you’re sitting in front of the pies and potatoes at the next holiday party.

 

Practical Tip #3- Balanced Plates with a Sprinkle of Fun

 

The holidays are just one day but the days around the holidays can often feel like an extension of the fun. Because there are plenty of food opportunities around the holidays, it’s a good general rule of thumb to follow a balanced plate structure most of the time and sprinkle in fun food once a day.

 

A balanced plate consists of fiber, fat, and protein. The portion sizes will depend on the person but when you fill up on mostly whole foods that are filling the protein, fiber, and fat, you can more easily manage your portion sizes of fun, more indulgent foods.

 

This helps ensure you’re eating nutrient dense, overall healthy foods, without restricting the fun stuff or overeating it. 

 

It’s a practical balance and the best of both worlds.

 

 

Enjoy the holidays and remember, balance is key!

 

Healthy Holiday Sugar Cookies

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar of choice (monkfruit for sugar free)
  • 1/2 cup cashew butter or nut butter of choice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of salt

 

Low Sugar Icing:

  • 2 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar of choice (Swerve or Powdered monk fruit for sugar free)
  • 1-2 tbsp of almond milk added slowly 
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp vanilla or unflavored protein powder

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar and nut butter of choice. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until combined. 
  3. Add dry ingredients: oat flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until it forms a doughy ball. You might have to use your hands to combine here!
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 
  5. While the dough is chilling, prepare the icing! Mix powdered sugar, option protein powder, and almond milk in a small bowl until combined. Add the almond milk slowly to ensure the desired consistency!
  6. Remove dough from the refrigerator, roll dough out onto parchment paper and cut into desired shapes. 
  7. Bake for 7-9 minutes, let cool, ice, and serve!