Today, the long-awaited celebration of gluten-free holiday food is kicking off at Ricki Heller’s blog Diet, Dessert, and Dogs! This week’s topic: Healthier Through the Holidays. In a season of feasting on pies and candy canes, how can we all enjoy the gifts of the season while still fitting into our skinny jeans and cocktail dresses? Head on over to Ricki’s blog for what’s sure to be a vast assortment of great answers to such a tough question.
In light of the fast-approaching holiday season, I put together a few tips of my own that I consider key to staying healthy during this busy time of year. I’d love it if you’d share your healthy holiday secrets in a comment…let’s make the last two months of 2010 the healthiest ones yet!
Prepare for Parties
Whether you’re schedule is filled with office parties or neighborhood open houses, there’s bound to be a party or two you encounter this year. Avoid temptation with these tricks:
- Eat before you go! Having a snack (think almonds, veggies and hummus, or fruit) prior to arriving at the party will help satiate you enough to fend off hunger pangs…and make it easier to pass up the first dessert tray that floats on by.
- At the table or buffet, load up on veggie crudites, fresh fruit if it’s available, and lean proteins before diving into the cheese and salami tray. If you fill up on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables first, chances are you’ll be a lot less likely to pop down those cream puffs later.
- Bring a dish to share. Whenever I’m going to a party or dinner at someone else’s house, I always offer to bring something along. Not only is this a good way to kindly alert the host/hostess to my food sensitivities, but it also offers me the opportunity to bring something healthy like Cranberry-Pecan Date Balls, Sweet Sundried Tomato Hummus, or Pumpkin Pecan Cookies.
Beat Your Sweet Tooth
The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without pies, cakes, and Christmas cookies. Allow yourself to indulge in your favorite sweet a few times throughout the season. The rest of the time, curb your sweet tooth in three easy ways:
- Eat enough protein. People who aren’t getting enough protein in their diets generally crave more carbs. Aim to eat a serving of protein at each meal. It doesn’t always have to be meat, either. Beans and legumes as well as nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein. They also contain fiber, which helps fill you up and keep hunger at bay.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day (aim for half of your body weight in ounces) is a great way to fend off cravings for that extra slice of pumpkin pie or yet another gingersnap!
- If all else fails, satisfy your sweet tooth naturally. I’m consistently amazed at how sweet dates and dried apricots are. Just one sends my sweet tooth packing if I’m having a craving. Try prunes, dried currants, and dried Black Mission figs, too.
For more sweet tooth busters, see my “Sayonara, Sweet Tooth!” post.
Exercise and Stay Hydrated
Keeping up a regular exercise routine through the holiday season will not only keep your metabolism firing (and your skinny jeans fitting!), but it also moves your lymph system. The lymph system is responsible for flushing out the body’s toxins. With added stress over the holidays along with poorer eating habits, the toxic load on our bodies increases. Exercise encourages our bodies to move out the bad stuff, therefore making us less susceptible to winter colds and flus.
Staying well-hydrated is key to remaining healthy, but also looking fresh and at your best…and doesn’t everyone want that during a season filled with family visiting, friends dropping by, and the occasional kiss with your sweetie beneath the mistletoe?
Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday season. Be sure to drop by Diet, Dessert, and Dogs for plenty of other recommendations as well as two gluten-free cookbook giveaways!