The holidays are my favorite time of year. I love the holiday cheer, hustle and bustle, and imagining I'm back in my home state of Colorado skiing Vail's fresh, light powder on Christmas morning. For many however the holidays are full of challenges. As one of my friends said, if you think you are enlightened, go home for the holidays! LOL, (laugh out loud) we all know what that's like. If you are one of those that has a hard time during the holidays, I encourage you to adjust your focus and focus on the joy and cheer of the season.
If you are concerned about putting on the typical 5-10 pounds during the holiday season, follow these 9 secrets to eating and staying healthy.
1. Don't arrive hungry to any party or event! Snack before you arrive at the party, preferably on something that is high in protein. Healthy proteins include, fish, meat, cheese, nuts. Try raw soaked almonds, they are delicious and you can carry them with you anywhere! This will prevent blood sugar spikes, curb sugar cravings, and you yearning to reach for sweets.
2. Portion Control - Eat like the Europeans do and put smaller portions on your plate. There's a reason why they are much thinner than Americans. You can always go back for seconds.
3. Eat Slow & Chew Your Food - This may seem obvious, but as we get older and entrenched in our busy lives, most people don't chew their food enough. Chewing your food is the first stage of digestion. When done properly, it improves digestion and prevents you from packing on the pounds! You also give your brain the time it needs to send you the message, "I'm full!"
4. Eat Your Veggies, Especially Raw Veggies - We all need fiber, especially around the holidays. Raw veggies literally help clean you out. Foods closest to their whole form cause your stomach to work harder. Nutrients enter your bloodstream slower, causing less blood sugar highs and lows. Fiber also slows digestion because your stomach processes it slower. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables have significantly lower cancer rates, and these veggies also help protect against heart disease and encourage weight loss.
5. Replace Sugar in Your Baked Goods with Agave Syrup - A good rule of thumb is, for every cup of sugar a recipe calls for, use 2/3 cup agave syrup and add it to your wet ingredients instead of the dry ingredients.
6. Buy Wines Made From Organically Grown Grapes - There are so many wines on the market that are made with organically grown grapes but don't brag about it (because of the old stigma attached to organic wines) so start reading labels. I have found that more stores are creating an organic and or sustainable wine section. If you are looking for a wine that does not add any sulfites to it, look for one that carries the USDA Organic label. Frey Vineyards is one of the few that carries the label. They also make biodynamic wines.
7. Make Your Own Salad Dressing - So much money is wasted on monthly grocery bills buying bottled salad dressings - even if it is "low fat," "lite," "low-carb." When manufacturers take something out of a product like fat, they have to replace it with something and usually it's in the form of chemicals, carbohydrates, preservatives and other junky fillers. Make your salad dressing in bulk for the week and follow my simple steps for a Basic Salad Dressing.
8. Buy Organic Grass Fed Meats for the Holidays! Research is now showing that lean grass fed meat can lower your "bad" or LDL cholesterol levels. Here are just a few of the health benefits of eating certified organic, grass fed meats. Studies have shown that they contain more, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, Health promoting fats like omega-3 fatty acids and CLA - another good fat known as conjugated linoleic acid.
If you eat the average amount of beef that a normal person eats per year, (66.5 pounds a year), simply switching to lean grass-fed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any self discipline or change in your eating habits. That is huge! You may pay a little more, but I bet you will pay less in expensive doctor visits and you might even lose a few pounds.
9. Offer to Bring a Delicious Healthy Dish to Parties - If you know that you are going to a party full of junk food with few to little organic and healthy dishes, bring your own. Chances are the host will appreciate the help and you will have something you can enjoy.