The first requirement for Holiday eating is to have fun! The holidays are good for relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends over special meals. These are not meals you eat every day so you can indulge in some decadent foods. However, if we go overboard and throw all nutrition sense out, we end up unhappy at the end of it all. After all, we worked hard all year to eat nutritious foods and avoid toxic meals to maintain a healthy weight.
How can you enjoy special holiday meals and still maintain your healthy lifestyle and weight?
Prepare ahead of time.
Holiday Nutrition: Become a Healthy Host
If you are hosting any meals for friends and family, begin now to try out healthy recipes that are tasty and will wow your guests. There are lots of recipes online for different nutritional needs.
I remember one-holiday meal I made a kale dish that everybody loved. It was really simple. I sautéed onions in coconut oil and added cut kale and seasoned with Himalayan salt. Use pre-washed kale so that most of the water is drained before adding to the pan. I also made roasted vegetables, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, parsnip, squash, and onions. You can add whatever root vegetables you like. Season with Himalayan salt and some herb seasonings. Toss in olive oil and roast. This is a great start for good, holiday nutrition.
Salads can be made in so many ways. Find a good salad recipe with a combination of different green vegetables and other colored vegetables that are delicious. Use salad dressings that have only two or three ingredients, or just use olive oil and vinegar, or lemon.
The protein dishes are usually healthy and do not require much modification. Roasted turkey, chicken, or beef are fine. Portion control is the key. It is also smart to trim off the fat and eat only lean portions. If you are going to have ham, make sure it is not preserved with nitrites and nitrate. Uncured ham that is free of those chemicals is available. Those sugar glaze packets can be replaced with your own preparation of fruit puree.
Find healthy mashed potato options that do not use a lot of cream. If you have a dairy sensitivity, you can still enjoy mashed potatoes made with ghee, or just enjoy roasted potatoes with herbs.
I do not know a healthy macaroni and cheese recipe. If you must have it, just have a small portion, assuming you do not have dairy or gluten sensitivity. If you have any of those food sensitivities, it is not worth it. If you must, then take digestive enzyme supplements that will help you break down those foods. The type of digestive enzyme will depend on the sensitivity you have and are different for different people.
For desserts, I suggest trying out different recipes with almond flour, coconut flour, cassava flour, and other non-gluten or non-grain flours. Make baked goods that can be sweetened with stevia and fruits. Sometimes you can improve the taste by combining different natural sweeteners such as stevia, and some sugar alcohols like erythritol, xylitol. You have to be careful with the sugar alcohols because too much of that is not very healthy either. Stay away from artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin.
Sugar depresses the immune system and is not good for anyone.
The best dessert is fruit salad. You can mix up different varieties of cut up fruits in a bowl. Serve with fresh cream for those who can tolerate dairy, with coconut cream for those who have a dairy sensitivity, or just enjoy a plain sweet fruit salad.
If you are the guest at a party or get together, you cannot control what kinds of foods are served but you can control what you choose to eat to maintain your healthy, nutritional diet.
Start with the salads and vegetables, then pick out the meat portions you like. Try to fill yourself up with the main dish and side dish before dessert. Hopefully, you will be so full that you can only have a bite of the dessert. Hopefully, your host is a health-minded person like you and will have healthy, fun dishes.
Have wine in moderation. Whether you are the host or a guest, instead of sitting around after meals, take a walk as a group around the neighborhood and catch up on your lives. Have fun activities outside, if the weather permits, or play indoor games.
Whatever happens, relax and have fun, even if you break your healthy dietary habits, it is not the end of the world. Start the next day to get back to your usual healthy way of eating until the next party or get together. Do not give up just because one meal missed the mark. Every day and every meal is an opportunity to make good, nutritional choices for yourself. If you made one bad choice, forgive yourself and try to do better the next time.
Have fun! Enjoy the holidays!