Everyone thinks about it, that inevitable holiday weight gain. While it’s natural to worry about the beginning of the holiday season setting off a series of poor choices from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day; don’t beat yourself up!
There are plenty of good things about the holiday season and the foods you can choose that will make you feel a little better. First off let’s discuss some of the typical foods eaten for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of these foods are quite traditional and have some very healthy ingredients!
- Pumpkin – while adding the sugar and whipped cream to the pumpkin pie can be a health hazard don’t forget that pumpkin has some very healthy benefits. Pumpkin seeds are the healthiest part but the pumpkin itself packs a pretty good punch too. Loaded with beta carotene, pumpkin can be helpful for those who have diabetes, thyroid issues and digestive issues. Healthy tip: Go light on the amount of whipped cream on top and eat the pumpkin without the pie crust.
- Dressing/Stuffing – everybody has bad things to say about bread and carbs; however, if you make your stuffing and even your turkey with a touch of sage you may find that it helps your digestive system. Sage can actually help you digest fats properly. Healthy tip: Use organic dried sage and you can keep some available for other suggested medicinal benefits found here.
- Cranberries – it’s time to throw away that unappealing can of wobbly gelled cranberry and use authentic, real cranberries. Cranberries are high in vitamin C, anti-oxidants, and bioflavonoids. Healthy Tip: This easy recipe for Orange-Cranberry Sauce from Whole Foods is a great way to eat a healthier and, honestly, much more delicious version.
- Garlic – add fresh cloves of garlic to your turkey and your stuffing/dressing for an amazingly sweet, yet savory, flavor. Roasted garlic has a spectacular flavor. You can also roast a couple of heads of garlic and simply open them up by removing the peels. Serve as a spread for your hardy bread. Healthy tip: Garlic is known to help boost your immune system. This is especially handy at this time of year when everyone’s sharing colds.
- Walnuts – most nuts provide healthy Omega 3 oils that can be very beneficial. Studies have also shown that the oils from nuts such as walnuts can be heart healthy. Healthy Tip: Place proper portion sizes of nuts into small festive paper cups to help you and your guests eat single servings.
- Sweet Potatoes/Yams – unfortunately most people love to create a high calorie sweet potato casserole that is loaded with butter, sugar, marshmallows, and nuts. Why not try a healthier option for your sweet potatoes this year? Healthy Tip: Use this amazing and intriguing substitution for the naughty sweet potato casserole. Sweet Potato Balls are vegan friendly and kid friendly.
Now that we’ve covered some of our favorite foods for the holidays let’s create a plan. You need to remember that it’s okay to enjoy some traditional foods that may not be as healthy as we’d like to be eating. The key to keeping extra holiday weight off is portion control. It’s okay to make a pie and eat a piece or even two but send the leftovers home with friends and family or freeze it so you aren’t tempted to eat it until it’s gone. When you feel like treating yourself you can pull out a piece of pie and thaw it at room temperature or even microwave it for a few minutes as a special treat.
You’re going to want to make sure you incorporate exercise into your holiday season. It’s truly impossible to think you will go from Thanksgiving through Christmas and into New Year’s without partaking of some extra calories. Having a plan that includes keeping active is a must.
Don’t center everything around food. You can enjoy get-togethers without loading up on tons of food. If you’re entertaining and can be in charge of the event then use the opportunity to focus on fun. Play games, share pictures from past holidays, watch a movie, or focus on a craft that everyone can enjoy. It’s really the time you spend with those you love that matters; so focus on spending time with them.
Above all, enjoy your holiday season. Eliminate the stress by making sure that you plan ahead for yourself so that you’re comfortable with the choices. Worst case scenario is that you do gain a little weight and end up getting even healthier with the help of a physical therapist or personal trainer that’s geared towards your needs.
Everyone here at Live Your Life Physical Therapy would like to wish you and your friends and family a wonderful holiday season, no matter how or what you celebrate! We want you to Live Your Life FIT & HEALTHY.
Dedicated to Keeping You Healthy & Active,
Dr. Eva Norman
President & Founder
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Live Your Life Physical Therapy, LLC