Oh the temptations of the holidays… Whether your weaknesses lie in the platefuls of Christmas cookies or in the salty goodness of a party mix, there are plenty of minefields to navigate around at this time of year. It can be difficult to be mindful about making smart choices when there's easy accessibility to so many delicious and decadent foods and life is so chaotic. Difficult…but not impossible! We here at Green Mountain at Fox Run know that healthy weights are maintained by eating well, not by "dieting". Here are some strategies to help you deal with eating during the holidays and beyond.
- Keep healthy options beautiful and in plain sight. I always have at least one fruit bowl and one bowl for whole nuts with nutcrackers out on my kitchen table. Similarly, put the cookies and chips away in the deepest, darkest recesses of your pantry. Out of sight, a little more out of mind.
- Citrus fruit is great at this time of year. Opt for clementines, tangelos, and pommellos, my favorite wintry sweet treats. They might seem a little expensive, but be honest with yourself – are they as costly as the box of truffles you might eat in their absence?
- Pomegranates are also in season, and are wonderful tools for practicing mindfulness. Cut a pomegranate in half and take some time to remove all the seeds and you'll see what I mean. The experience is worth it, of course; these mythical fruits are wonderfully delicious and nutritious.
- Whole nuts are plentiful and inexpensive, especially right after Christmas, and enjoying them can also be a good exercise in mindfulness. Since they're a great source of protein they will make you feel full, which can help you avoid overindulging.
- Make sure to eat a veggie-based snack before going to a holiday party or dinner. That way when you arrive you are not ravenous, which would likely drive you to make mindless choices. This also helps when there are no veggies to be seen at your destination, a phenomenon which seems to happen at a lot of holiday events…unless you count alcohol as a vegetable.
- Always keep some fresh, raw veggies cleaned and cut in the fridge for instant enjoyment; if you have them ready to eat, you (and your family) are more likely to actually ingest them.
- Keep veggies on hand that last a long time in the fridge so you don't have to run to the store too much or, worse yet, forego them altogether. My favorite long-lasting fresh vegetables at this time of year are squashes, cabbage, carrots, and kale. Stock up the freezer with veggies while you're at the store, too. What you sacrifice in quality and nutritive value is minor compared to the time and headaches you're saving yourself – eating frozen vegetables is much better than eating no vegetables!
- Wasabi peas and their new (to me) cousin, Sriracha peas, are delicious options that pack a bit of heat. Sometimes spicy stuff stops snackers in their tracks, or at least helps slow down the shoveling.
Most cookies freeze well, both in dough form and baked. If I make a batch of cookies at home, I usually only bake off a half dozen. I scoop the rest of the dough into balls, freeze them in a single layer on a sheet pan, then put the dough balls in freezer bags to ensure that a) I will avoid eating the whole batch at once and b) I can have fresh-baked homemade cookies whenever I mindfully choose to.
Keep in mind that it is ABSOLUTELY OKAY to enjoy the treats of the season! Making good choices includes sometimes eating that gloriously decadent treat. But it also means maybe avoiding that store bought cookie with all the preservatives in it and opting instead for Grandma's famous lard balls, made from scratch with an extra dash of love.
How do you eat well during the holidays?