No escaping it, the Holidays are upon us with all the temptations and frustrations of trying to maintain a healthy diet.
I think the downward slope starts with Halloween and the candy and then we slide into fall recipes using yummy pumpkin that always includes lots of sugar. Just as the last of the candy wrappers disappear in the trash . . . along comes Thanksgiving. The day we thank God for His provision by feasting.
This year, as Thanksgiving weekend ends . . . it’s already December 1 so Christmas parties start the next week touting cookies, candy, fudge, eggnog, cakes, pies, and lots of calorie-ridden, fat-laden food! It’s easy to lose heart—literally and figuratively—and decide you’ll just throw caution to the wind and get back to that healthy eating January 1.
But hey, then there’s the nibbles watching the New Year’s parade and football, and it’s too cold to go outside and exercise so those extra few pounds over the holidays can quickly morph to a couple of new dress sizes. Then it’s Super Bowl parties, Valentine’s Day, and the indulging cycle continues as New Year’s resolutions to do better this year become a faint memory.
What’s a Body to Do?
There really is a way to stay in control of your health and still enjoy the holidays. I do it every year and you can too; but you have to have a plan in place. Pray about how you’re going to deal with all the tempting food you’ll soon be encountering before you encounter it. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment on what to eat, how much to eat, what to cook, how to cook it, and what to avoid.
Our usual tactic is to promise ourselves we’ll be good, and then when we get to the party throw caution to the wind . . . and then beat ourselves up the next day when we get on the scales. So here are some tips I’ve found helpful over the years. Please share any you have too:
1. I do get on the scales every day so I can keep a handle on my weight. If you wait until noticing those extra pounds in how your clothes fit, chances are you’re going to have a tough time getting them off. If I see I’ve gained a few pounds, I take that seriously and layoff desserts and eat smaller portions until I lose the extra weight.
2. If you have an exercise regime don’t stop. If you don’t have one, start! Even though the holidays can be crazy, do this for you! Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving. Exercise helps with stress, gets the endorphins pumping, and burns calories. Find a way to fit it in. In bad weather, take laps around a mall, or I’ve done laps inside a church. Get some girlfriends to join you. I have an elliptical machine in the garage that keeps me exercising throughout the winter.
3. Take a green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing to a potluck or party. That way you know there’s something healthy for you to eat. As you go down the buffet line, take only a spoonful of things you really love and be especially mindful of Jell-O salads usually loaded with sugar and fat. Don’t go back for seconds.
4. When there’s a selection of desserts, have a small piece of the one you love the most. Or take tiny servings of several. If you bite into one and it isn’t as good as you thought it would be, don’t eat it!
5. Let your stomach guide you. Most of us feel uncomfortable when we overeat, so when you start to feel the belt or waistband tighten around your middle, STOP eating.
6. If you love bread, let yourself have a small piece but don’t use butter. If it’s store-bought dinner rolls, skip them.
7. If you’re out to dinner, make a visual line down the middle of your plate and only eat half of the meal. Ask for a to-go box for a tasty lunch tomorrow.
8. Drink water! Avoid punches, juices, soft drinks, and alcohol.
9. Enjoy stuffing or mashed potatoes without gravy. They’re delicious on their own. Also avoid “sauces.”
Cooking for the Holidays
I used to bring out all my recipes for childhood holiday favorites and spend a day or two in the kitchen making cookies and candy. Then I realized I was the one eating most of it! So now, I pick a favorite or two, and that’s it. Here are some ideas for making your recipes healthier:
1. Never use shortening in anything! Substitute coconut oil.
2. When a recipe calls for “vegetable” oil, again use coconut oil (you can melt it) or grapeseed oil or applesauce.
3. Cut the amount of sugar in half and substitute Stevia for the other half or use all Stevia, or stick with just half the sugar.
4. Use 2% milk, almond or coconut milk.
5. Substitute whole-wheat flour for some of the white flour (I use organic for both)
6. I don’t do gluten-free, but if you do, follow the recipes for the flours you use.
7. Avoid recipes that are pure sugar or fat. They’re not good for anyone.
8. If you’re making cookies with the grandkids, send most of the goodies home!
Remember that these holidays are not about food! When you gather together, it’s about the fellowship as you thank God for all His blessings and the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus Christ.
I’m thankful for each of you and appreciate your following on my blog and your desire to live the best life you can for the Lord by loving His gift of your precious body. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!