Do you dread the holiday season? Does stress start to build just thinking about the range of demands placed on you? Do you question:
· What will I wear at the parties?
· Will the guests stay long?
· Did I do enough shopping?
· Do I have the budget for it? Etc.!
For many, stress during the holidays also comes from the idea they will gain 5 more pounds during the season. Let’s face it, it happens every year, so why would this year be different?
If this relates to you, try something different this year. According to Fizza, Bokhari, RD/CDN, at Clarity Surgical, the answer is in portion control. The key is to not abandon healthy habits and let the holidays become a free-for-all with overindulgence. An article in WebMD suggests “ You can leave that mistake behind when you start to recognize a true serving size”.
Fizza recommends using a plate like this to help you with this control. Let me clarify, portion control should be with whole foods, leave the sugary, processed foods out of your diet. “Proteins should be the size of your palm” (right upper side). You’re free to use most vegetables (large lower portion), and complex carbs, such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, beans, peas and lentils, should be consumed in smaller amounts (left portion of template).
During the holidays, keep healthy snacks around such as hummus, purple carrots, and other crunchy vegetables. Also, place a medley of strawberries, cranberries, mint, and oranges floating in a pitcher of sparkling water so you and your guests don’t fill up on sweets, cheese, crackers, and sugary drinks.
When the meal is over, what do you do with all the holiday’s leftovers?
Use them the next day in a different arrangement. In other words, just share the spread! I often brainstorm about healthy recipes and ideas for meals with my exercise trainer, Sue Brunjes (Instagram @ susan.brunjes). She has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and is a personal trainer with 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Sue works hard, keeps a busy schedule, yet is still an advocate for healthy eating at large family gatherings during the holidays.
To have her family participate in healthy eating, and encourage her daughter to partake in it, she creates what I call, “share the spread” meals. One night, she snapped these photos for me. Several individual bowls are filled with various colorful chopped vegetables, like purple cabbage, carrots, avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green onions, etc.
Then she’ll fry up an egg, crumble feta cheese, add any protein such as shredded chicken and cubed turkey, cook up quinoa, and line the bowls in a row down the table, buffet style. This is a creative way to use leftovers from holiday meals. Many amusing conversations can be started as each person customizes their own plates with the foods they enjoy.
You can use any combination of unprocessed wholesome foods to create your own “share the spread” meals. Try a variety of themes and stay within the portion control recommendations. For a Spanish flare, add cilantro, guacamole, black olives, beans, and salsa, etc. If you want an Asian flavor, add shrimp, sesame seeds, green onions, shredded napa cabbage, bean sprouts, and ginger dressing. Enjoy the flavorful creations!
So, avoid the stress of gaining 5 pounds and the guilt felt after consuming too much this holiday season by following these simple, yet effective guidelines.
I wish you all a season filled with joy, blessings, and truly Happy and Healthy Holidays!