Why is it that we get so wrapped up in the concept of gaining weight over the holiday season? It is all the cookie swaps, the buffet style holiday family gatherings or even that tasty holiday cider we are “treating” ourselves to? Forget about the holiday weight gain and use these 4 tips to guide you through a healthful and happy holiday season.
- Stop skipping meals! How often do you avoid eating all daylong knowing that you are going to indulge in an extravagant meal adorned with brightly colored cranberry sauce, buttery roasted turkey, creamy pumpkin pie and other holiday trappings? Skipping meals throughout the day in preparation for a large meal is just setting yourself up for a binge-fest followed by an upset stomach! When you skip meals your body begins to steadily fall into survival mode. As you skip meals you are telling your body “nope, I don’t need food right now.” Your body says back “hmm, well I guess we need to slow this metabolism down then so we don’t starve to death!” Your blood sugar slowly begins to plummet as well as your brain function begins to decline from glucose deprivation [enter state of “hanger”]. After a while when it is finally time for your beautiful holiday meal you overindulgeand flood your stomach with a higher volume of food than it is accustomed to because “hey, I haven’t eaten all day so why not grab some stuffing, sweet potato casserole, white and dark meat turkey, 2 rolls, bacon wrapped asparagus, a few glasses of wine, oh and definitely a piece of pumpkin pie and pecan pie because….I earned it!” By approaching a holiday like any other day you can avoid this excessive intake of food quite easily. Wake up and sit down to a real breakfast like you would on any other day. Depending on what time your holiday meal is scheduled feel free to still slip lunch into your day as well. A sandwich on whole grain bread with a side of sliced vegetables is a great fiber and nutrient packed lunch to hold you over until dinner!
- Get out and about! Down here in Georgia we have pretty spectacular fall weather that boasts outdoor activity so take advantage of that! I like to hit up a workout at my local gym, Cumming Strength & Fitness, and get in a good workout before a fun day of family, friends and food! It is also fun to get to bounce meal ideas off of friends at the gym. If the local gym is not your cup of pumpkin spice latte then head on over to Central Park for a few laps around the baseball fields or take a stroll down The Greenway and enjoy the foliage. If you are looking for some spectacular scenery with a challenge you can grab a pair of tennis shoes and hike up Sawnee Mountain Preserve: Indian Seats Trail! Basketball in the driveway, kicking a soccer ball in the yard or even just getting your stir-crazy dogs outside for a short walk will quickly turn your day around, get your blood moving as well as boost your endorphins to pump up your mood. At the least, grab a chair, hangout on the back porch and breathe in our beautiful Georgia air.
- Try something new in the kitchen. Tradition is such a wonderful thing but sometimes it can take us back to a place of complacency year after year if the holidays are a time that bring you to memories of weight gain and struggle. Don’t forego all your old and tasty traditions but add something new flavor to your holiday routine. Find something that brings you excitement! Try a new dish [feel free to try my attached recipe] that is out of your comfort zone. If an entire dish is too intimidating you can experiment with a new vinaigrette or composed salad. If you mess it up, no harm done, it’s just food. Another way to experiment in the kitchen is to spend a little more time in the produce section, pick up a vegetable that you have never cooked with before, head on over to google or pinterest, search recipes with that ingredient in it and give it a go!
- Set 3 holiday goals. This might sound a little weird and off-color from the typical holiday tips but set yourself 3 things to keep coming back to this holiday season. The craziness of holiday shopping, getting your kids ready for school parties and planning the visits to in-laws can be nothing short of exhausting. Set 3 goals that bring you happiness and peace in this season. My goals are to spend at least 30 minutes outside 5 days a week, find some new exciting holiday recipes and actually cook them and to really soak in the time spent with my family and leave my cell-phone in another room.
Enjoy this Holiday Recipe!
“Toasted Pecan & Farro Salad with Sweet Dijon Vinaigrette”
- 1 cup uncooked farro (cooked in 2 ½ cups water)
- 2 medium apples, diced
- 4 cups power greens or your favorite salad base
- ½ cup pecan halves
- 1 tbsp ghee
- salt and pepper to taste
- shaved parmesan cheese
Sweet Dijon Vinaigrette
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½-1 tbsp local honey
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the farro according to packed instructions or place 1 cup uncooked farro in 2 ½ cups water and boil. Once water and farro mixture is boiling cover and reduce heat to low/medium and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until tender.
- Once farro is cooked, drain off any additional water and cool off farro in fridge.
- Prepare and measure out all the vinaigrette ingredients and mix together (I just used two plastic cups and shook all the ingredients together until completely mixed). Taste and adjust ingredients to your liking.
- You can either leave your pecans whole or chop into smaller bite size pieces. Place on stove with 1 tbsp ghee (or butter if you do not have ghee), add a pinch of salt and toast to desired “toastiness.”
- Dice your apples into small even pieces, add cooled farro, apples and toasted pecans into a bowl. Slowly add vinaigrette and toss ingredients to evenly coat. Continue to add in vinaigrette until you reach a flavor mixture that you like! I did use all the vinaigrette but some might not want to do that to start off with. Once everything is coated add in your greens and toss everything together for a nice even mixture of salad.
- Sprinkle with shaved parmesan, serve chilled and enjoy!
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Licensed Dietitian
Cumming Strength & Fitness