Here come the holidays, and with them comes stuffing – one of my favorite foods (well, that and chile rellenos, but most Thanksgivings don’t have those on the menu). I make my stuffing with sage, parsley, onions, celery, and of course, bread. For the vegetarians, maybe you stop there, but I like to add a little sausage, and I will leave it up to you to decide whether to “stuff” it, or bake it on the side. When the delicious stuffing is combined with turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and the other traditional dishes you may have at your Thanksgiving feast, you might find your plate and your belt sagging a little. So what are you to do? Eat the stuffing. Want more details? Read on…
Food as community. I am a firm believer that food brings people together. Today, many people eat fast food, working lunches, and grab-and-go snacks. Holidays, however, remain one of those sacred times of the year when we can sit down at a table and enjoy a meal with family and friends. Embrace this opportunity!
Holiday indulgence IS moderation. We indulge during holidays because they are special times; every day is not a holiday. You can indulge every once in a while and enjoy your holiday meals! The trick is to keep indulgence from becoming your norm. Consistent overeating is what causes weight gain; one big meal is not going to make you gain weight, and if we continually limit our caloric intake and count the calories, it can weigh on us (the mind not the body). Additionally, if you try and make low fat versions of favorite dishes, sometimes you are left wanting, so you may do it again. If there is ever a time to splurge, it is with family and friends on a special occasion.
Take your time. I don’t know about you, but some holidays I have eaten to the point of becoming very uncomfortable, where the only position that I can possibly be comfortable is lying flat on my back with my pants unbuttoned. This feeling is no fun, and some of it may be due to the fact that there is about a 10-20 minute lag between the food entering your stomach and your stomach telling your brain that it is full. The time can vary based on the food you are eating. Go slow to give yourself time to digest before you decide whether you’d like a second helping.
Make your plate up right. A whole lot of discomfort could be avoided if we eat what we want but try to stick to the plate rule (seen on the right here). Green bean casserole, salad, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and turkey fit very nicely onto this plate, and maybe you only have only slice of pie instead of two. Seek to enjoy holiday meals without eating to the point of discomfort.
Incorporate movement into your tradition. Go for a walk with the fam after you have eaten and gotten in a little couch time. A little exercise can help get the blood flowing, get some fresh air into the lungs and make Turkey day that much more enjoyable. In addition, exercise helps your mental health, your stress levels, your metabolism, cardiovascular health, and gets the plaque out of your blood vessels.
The bottom line. Embrace slow foods, family and friends, and tradition. You don’t have to skip holiday meals or make your holiday meal fat free to stay healthy. Moderation and adding in a little movement can go a long way. Eat a little less, walk a little more, and savor the time with the ones you care about.
Thanks to: Antonia Hartley and Sara Stahlman
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