Monday, December 23, 2013

Take Out Tuesdays-Holiday Edition: a Healthy Strategy for Christmas Dinner

The holiday season is a time of lots of merriment and spending cherished moments with family and friends. For most, this centers around a lot of food & drinks. We plan our family gatherings around what it is to be served and when. 

For me, this means waking up on Christmas morning at my Mamaw's in Indiana and preparing our customary Christmas breakfast of Monkey bread & Lumberjack eggs (a scrambled egg & ham dish). Once the breakfast is complete, we quickly clean up, and proceed to quickly move on to preparing our Christmas dinner. 

For my family, food is a way of showing our love for one another. In fact, this year, I have even given out many  homemade recipes to family and friends, such as the PB Sweet & Salty granola recipe & the Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe that was served in mason jars. I believe that food & the holidays go hand and hand because they can both provide us with the "homey," comfort feeling we all desire to experience again from our childhoods.

Therefore, I think it is very important to not be fearful of celebrating the holiday season with food. So what if you have one cupcake? As someone who grew up struggling with their weight, I can tell you firsthand that I was the heaviest when I deprived myself of certain foods. These past five years, I have maintained a healthy weight by living a healthy lifestyle, heavy on the LIFE.

 Below are 10 easy & straightforward tips to help you to enjoy a healthy Christmas Dinner & New Year's Eve...

Healthy Tip #1: Eat a Snack Before You Go.
 Do not arrive feeling famished. Instead, eat a healthy snack before you arrive, that is fibrous and protein-rich. My go to pre-dinner snack is an apple with peanut butter or almond butter. 

Healthy Tip #2: "Host Assist"
 Offer to help the party-host serve drinks, prepare food, or with whatever help they need. This way you can spend less time feeling tempted to eat the food. Perhaps, this is just a matter of positioning yourself away from the snacking table. For me, this would mean not sitting right in front of the big bowl of Christmas-colored M&Ms, because I know they would be calling my name.

Healthy Tip #3: Wear Your Sunday Best
 Avoid the elastic leggings/jeggings etc. and big, oversized sweater that will provide you with the room to eat like its Thanksgiving all over again. When your clothes fit to your body you can be more aware of when you are full & less likely to go HAM. (I often use this trick when working out, particularly yoga. By practicing yoga, in a tighter tank, I am able to become more aware of my body's movement and alignment). 

                           Healthy Tip #4: Use an Appetizer Plate for your Meal
Have you experienced this scenario before? You go into a grocery store just to buy  a few items, but grab a shopping cart anyway.Suddenly, you find yourself stocking up on a heck of a lot more than you originally intended. However, if you had gone into the grocery store and used a shopping basket, you would have been much more selective and aware of exactly what you wanted. The same things occur when you eat your dinner on a large plate versus a small plate. By using a small plate when choosing your foods, you are much more aware of just how much of the mashed potatoes you are scooping out onto your plate.

                                   Healthy Tip #5: Be Picky
Prior to arriving, think about what type of food you are most looking forward to. Is it your grandmother's wedding cakes, aunt's homemade biscuits, or uncle's famous ham? Determine what food you know you "have to" eat and be honest about it.This way you will have a clear plan for what you want to consume. For example, by identifying the biscuits as a necessary item on your list, you can develop a plan to consume just  just one biscuit. Such a plan will not only make that biscuit more delectable, but it will also place the control of your consumption in your hands, literally. 

                                 Healthy Tip #6: Move On
Whether you are sitting down at a formal table or forming a line around a buffet-style table, put a little bit of the foods you want on your plate and move on. Eat each food once, and enjoy it. Once its over, move on to enjoying your company, or helping with the clean-up.

Healthy Tip #7: Be Last in Line 
This is a tip that I tend to follow, whether at a wedding or even at a store at the mall. You know how a store at the start of Christmas season can look so pristine and beautiful? You see all of these beautiful and flashy items lined up in front of you when you walk into the store. As your eyes drift over each good, you mentally add each item to your list. However, if you went back to the store the day after Christmas when everything is marked down to 75%. You notice that the boxes look slightly squished and that a heated towel warmer is not something you really need, even when priced for only $3.  This is the same occurrence that happens when you are gathered around a buffet-style table for Christmas dinner. You begin to salivate as you look down at all of the delicious food laid out so beautifully onto crisp linens. However, once the meal has received many "spoon-mark beatings" your mind becomes much clearer and you are be able to decipher which foods you actually want prior to sampling.

Healthy Tip #8: Drink & Stay Merry
 Make water your drink of choice. If you want to consume alcohol, alternate 2 glasses of water for 1 alcoholic beverage. Skip the soda entirely. In particular, the artificial sweetener in Diet Soda, will make you crave more sweets. Club soda & lime make great drink mixers. 

Healthy Tip #9: Bring Something Healthy
Whether you stop at the grocery store on your way for a veggie platter or bring a wine spritzer, you can be better prepared for the holiday party by packing a healthy choice. This could even mean slipping a luna bar in your purse. I may  have even broke off pieces of a Luna bar during Christmas Eve church services last year...

Healthy Tip #10: Enjoy Yourself
The most important tip of all is to enjoy yourself today. Do not beat yourself up for having a cupcake. Try not to allow the holidays to feel like a time in which you have to enter the "danger-zone." It is ok to eat outside your house, where you have far less control. In fact, it is even an essential aspect of living a healthy life. Just come up with a game plan before you go to your party and stick with it. Remember that no one wants/needs to  hear about it. Instead, focus all of your time and energy on celebrating the present moment. 

I hope these 10 healthy tips have prepared you for your festive events to come. Create a great Tuesday everyone! 

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