By Noel Daniel
The holidays are filled with wonderful things, food being one of them. We don’t believe that you should deprive yourself of enjoying one of the wonderful things that the holidays have to offer. But you should be intentional. We’ve collected the opinions of some of the healthiest people in the county to help you with your health goals.
“Start by looking for healthy twists on some of your favorites,” suggests Nicci Bonfiglio, Project Manager for Pure Fit. “Try a hearty turkey chili with lean turkey breast and fresh veggies, using a low-sodium chicken or turkey broth; smoky butternut squash soup; or baked chicken parm over spaghetti squash. You can substitute sweet potatoes for regular potatoes, turkey breast for ground beef, and utilize all the gourds that are in season.”
As helpful as it is to watch the kind of foods you’re eating, though, the most important rule that Bonfiglio mentions is to watch your portion sizes.
“With holiday meals the key is moderation,” said Brian Sherwood, Manager of Max Muscle Modesto. “You always want to have some kind of protein with your meal. This could be turkey, ham, or any other lean meat source. Just moderate the rest.”
He emphasizes that it’s alright to have your mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and dessert—but you need to make sure you don’t stuff yourself. Don’t deprive yourself of your holiday meal. Just control it! As Sherwood says, “A little comfort food isn’t going to kill you.”
Mind, he did say “a little.” And during the holidays, there are an awful lot of temptations to splurge on whatever buckeye ball or pumpkin pie we get our hands on.
“It’s easy to find ourselves grazing, eating things just because they are offered, instead of intentionally choosing what to splurge on,” said Tara Crenshaw, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Get Fit.
“When you are intentional, you’ll accept the fact that your mom’s homemade pumpkin pie is totally worth splurging on and the store bought cookies, cupcakes, and fruitcake can be left on the table.”
The main concern with being healthy is not holding yourself to an impossible standard—we’re all in the same boat during the holidays, after all, and there are so many more things going on that become a bit of a distraction to eating healthy. And even if there weren’t, we still have a list a mile long of our favorite holiday treats and meals.
“There are healthy, great-tasting options of all your favorites,” said Bonfiglio. “[There’s] whole wheat, honey, or pumpkin bread. For a pumpkin spiced latte, substitute in coconut milk or almond milk, have a smaller size, or have them use half the flavoring.”
And Bonfiglio is another proponent of all things in moderation. She recommends choosing only one of those scrumptious cookies at the office; filling up a small plate only once at a dinner without heaping the food; and if you want to keep it extra clean, look at your day. If you know you’re going to a holiday party, plan to keep the rest of your day as clean and healthy as possible.
“I think the most important thing is to eat your regular meals leading up to “the big one,’” Sherwood agrees. “This will help keep you from overeating. Hunger stems from two things: low blood sugar and dehydration so ensure that you also drink plenty of water.”
But what do you do if this falls through? The best advice is to keep your chin up.
“Lose the guilt of holiday eating,” advises Crenshaw. “Guilt is not a motivator. Feeling guilty after eating foods you don’t usually eat can lead to more unhealthy behaviors. Get rid those negative voices in your head, give yourself permission to enjoy the indulgence guilt-free, and then remember to get back on track with your normal eating routine the next day.”
Sherwood seems completely in agreement, insisting that—though stuffing yourself is unadvised—it’s hard to avoid.
“I know this can be difficult, so if you do pop a button of your shirt, just make sure you go for an after dinner walk or spend a little extra time on the treadmill or bike the next day,” said Sherwood. “The most important thing is that you don’t beat yourself up. It’s the holidays, for goodness’ sake.”
Christmas Has Never Been So Green
Ann Endsley, Founder and Owner of Greens Market, has suggested some scrumptious health foods to give you the energy you need with the great taste you crave. These great menu suggestions are both delicious and healthy, and definitely worth a try.
“Turkey is a great lean protein,” said Endsley. “Just a little salt and pepper on the skin and it can be roasted to golden brown and delicious.
Cooking brussel sprouts in a little olive oil until they are tender and caramelized is a healthy side. Add a little chopped bacon or pancetta and you have a really great side dish.”
Looking for a salad side to write home about? Try finely chopped kale with toasted walnuts or almonds, dried cranberries, and crumbled feta or gorgonzola. Then, take your favorite vinaigrette and add a splash of orange juice.
But we all know it’s the dessert we wish was healthy. Thankfully, Endsley has a few suggestions there, too.
“Look for honeynut squash,” Endsley said. “They are baby butternut squash and are so sweet you can cut them in half, drizzle with some maple syrup, bake them in the oven, and serve them for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.”
Move over, everything else! Endsley also has the perfect plan for gluten free pumpkin pie.
“Make pumpkin pie brulee,” Endsley suggests. “Just put your favorite pumpkin pie recipe in a ramekin and sprinkle sugar on top. Fire up your blow torch and melt the sugar to a crispy caramelized sugar top.”
If you want to try a few more of Endsley’s culinary creations in a quick, convenient way, try out Underground Kitchen. Check out their food and order online at www.UndergroundKitchen.net.