Striking a Delicious Balance
The holidays are often a balancing act between finding safe gluten-free options, keeping up with a whirlwind of events, and trying to keep health in mind throughout all of the fun. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the spirit of the season while staying reasonably healthy and sane, too.
Get prepared. It’s not fun to sit in a room full of people eating delicious (off-limits) foods while you quietly drink your water and nibble on a carrot stick. Bring a “g-free legal” treat along with you to events. If you’re not a baker by nature, don’t be afraid to get a little help from a mix. Make sure your children have treats at school so they don’t feel left out, either.
Balance. If you are going to a holiday party, make an extra effort to eat well on other days. One piece of chocolate cake won’t make or break a diet, but daily indulgences will add up over time. Add in more vegetables, fruits, beans, and gluten-free whole grains. Move more, too!
Savor. Since you’re going to eat some treats this holiday season, you might as well truly enjoy them. Target foods that will give you the most pleasure. Take time to fill your senses and savor. When we pause and focus on our food instead of inhaling something while multitasking, food tastes much better.
Move the goodies out of sight. One of the biggest challenges of the season is a see-food diet, otherwise known as “if I see it, I eat it.” Studies show that when people keep tempting food out of sight, they eat less Your kitchen is your grocery store. Make sure you’re seeing the kinds of foods you want to be eating! Put seasonal fruits such as grapefruits, pomegranates,and mangos on the counter or in your refrigerator where they are easy to grab.
Fill your table with fruit and veggie dishes. Have your holiday meals feature seasonal vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and collards or other greens. Enjoy fruit-inspired desserts like baked apples, poached pears, and sautéed bananas.
Soups. Most soups are a healthy snack or light and filling meal. Stay warm and enjoy seasonal flavors with butternut or pumpkin soup, chicken or turkey soup with rice, and lentil dal or bean soups.
Focus on your priorities. No one will remember the sixth batch of cookies you make or the perfectly matching bow on the gifts. Remember the spirit of the season and put your energy toward connecting with the people you love rather than pushing to be the perfect host, guest, and/or parent. Get moving! Exercise is a great way to improve mood, reduce stress levels, and burn calories. Take an evening walk to see the lights and dance at party functions. You don’t have to wait until January for healthy resolutions.