Every year we celebrate the holidays in our own, unique ways. Our Chandler office, Warner Family Practice, hosts an annual Christmas project, and the opportunity to celebrate together with our entire staff, those we do life with nearly every day, is a treat. Oh, and there are plenty of actual ‘treats’ that accompany the celebration.
For those who eat healthy, the holidays are a difficult time to find the right balance of “healthy foods,” and having to face the office party food spread or your family reunion dinner table makes it even more difficult to eat right.
No one is able to avoid food from November through December. It is everywhere during the holidays.
By making a few smart choices, you will stay on top of your health, enjoy festive gatherings and still feel great.
Things to Avoid Eating During the Holidays
Enjoying festive meals during the holidays doesn’t mean bringing your own tupperware container and asking, “Where is your microwave?”
Being aware of simple, staple foods that you don’t HAVE to have on your plate will make it easier for you to continue feeling good.
If you do choose to eat these foods, just make sure to keep your portions small.
- Candy Canes. While these are generally just a candy snack, they are just sugar and, surprise surprise, do not have any nutritional value. If you absolutely HAVE TO HAVE that candy cane flavor, snap off a small piece and enjoy. Just hand off the remaining 4-inches of sugar to someone else.
- Cheese Sticks or Cheese Straws. These little appetizers are delicious but they have a lot of saturated fat in them.
- Cheesecake. Cheesecake is a popular holiday dessert and loaded with calories and fat. It can easily take up 1/4 of your daily caloric intake. When your grandmother’s cheesecake makes its way to the table, opt for fruit to garnish it instead of sugary toppings.
- Cranberry Sauce. Cranberries on their own are very good for you, but cranberry sauce that comes in a can is packed full of sugar. It is simply not worth it. Homemade cranberry sauce is a much better option if you must have some.
- Creamed Vegetables (Green Bean Casserole, Spinach, Corn, etc.). Vegetables are great sources of vitamins and other nutritional components your body craves. However, when someone (and you know who that person is) adds butter, cream and cheese to the recipe, it is no longer a healthy option – so just know that as you drive to Auntie’s house.
- Eggnog. We know this is a staple around the holidays and if it is critical to your Christmas experience, go for one moose antler glass full from Clark Griswold’s eggnog bowl. It is full of sugar, whipping cream, eggs and more. It is loaded with cholesterol and (again, surprise surprise) absolutely no nutritional value.
- Glazed Ham. Ham cooked without all of the added sugar and salt is fine but when you find one that is glazed, all of the nutritional value disappears.
Foods to Eat During the Holidays
Knowing what to avoid is one thing (and not really fun), but knowing what you should eat is a lot more enjoyable.
Keep in mind the small portions you normally eat, and you should be fine eating any of these foods and snacks this holiday season.
- Yams. Yams/sweet potatoes are a superfood and are always good for any diet. Just be careful of how they are made. If they have a lot of added sugar (mom’s marshmallows on top), you may want to stick with a smaller portion.
- Pretzels and Popcorn. If your family likes to have snacks available before you dive into the big meal, nibbling on pretzels and popcorn is best. These two are good snacks when eaten in moderation and are likely better than some other options you may find.
- Vegetable Sides (Not Creamed). Vegetables are the healthiest component of holiday foods. It may be more difficult to find some without a creamy sauce but it can be done. When you do, you should make sure you focus on these for your sides.
- Turkey and Chicken. Turkey and chicken are the best meats you can eat during the holiday season. Good thing they are found everywhere. Make this your main course, paired with vegetables, and you will be sitting in front of a healthy holiday meal. Just make sure you choose the white meat as it is better for you.
- Spiced Cider. Even though we don’t think you should drink the eggnog, you can enjoy spiced cider instead. It is made from apple cider and spices which make it a great holiday alternative.
- Stuffing. As long as stuffing is homemade and not store bought, you should be fine eating it during the holidays as long as you have a small portion with your meals. Store bought versions have extra fat and sugar you don’t want so make it at home and have a healthier option.
You can easily find foods during the holiday season that are nostalgic and can help keep you on track in terms of healthy eating. Just remember to eat everything in moderation and be smart about the foods you consume this year.
Creating a Personalized Nutrition Plan for the Holidays and All Year Long
Have you ever had a medical professional, someone licensed to help you with nutrition, go through the grocery store with you and provide support and assistance, helping you create meals that are healthy and tasty?
At our Chandler naturopathic office, our staff and naturopathic doctor meet weekly with people just like you, preparing a plan for health and nutrition that they can live with and feel good about.
Together, you meet with a medical professional and plan what that grocery trip will look like. No guessing games, only an agreed upon plan that sees to it you achieve your goals.
Please contact our Live Well office, 480-752-7600, and schedule a free, 15-minute consultation with Dr. Michelle McConnell, our on-site naturopathic doctor, and discover what your next step looks like for eating healthy in December and starting a successful New Year.
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