Just like any other time of year, my top tips for mindful and meaningful nutrition are exactly as stated; be mindful, and make it meaningful.
We come together as family and friends to share food, stories and each others company, this doesn't have to revolve around food, but who am I kidding, it usually does! Being mindful while choosing what and how much you are eating is the first step to moderation while still fully enjoying this time of year.
Be Mindful. Remember not eat in front of the TV or computer, or while standing in the kitchen or talking on the phone. When you do these things, you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’ve eaten. At holidays parties, enjoy everything you want to, but be mindful of your portions. Remember that drinks are some of the easiest ways to overindulge this time of year and a simple eggnog with rum is almost 500cals.
Plan Ahead. Knowing that you have a get together at 3 different functions that aren't your healthy dinner picks, make plans ahead of time to enjoy a healthy lunch and bring that 4 o'clock blood sugar balancing snack to curb over eating or waiting to long that you're ravenous and head to the closest drive through immediately after a cheese and crackers cocktail party!
Slow down. Enjoy each bite and put your fork down while chewing, talk and interact during the meal. Sit back and take in your surroundings filled with family and friends. This gives your body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied (not necessarily full). It's such a busy time of year, if there is only one thing to slow down, make it your meals.
No matter how healthy our diet is all year round I don't know anyone who isn't affected by the increase amount of sugary treats this time of year! We've all learnt how addictive and void of nutrients sugar can be, but it hasn't left our lives for good, and it's this exact time of year that seems to surround us with the castles of white confectionary!
Now all things in moderations, if you're not dealing with things like SIBO, Diabetes, or IBS, 1 cookie isn't going to hurt, but is it ever just 1 cookie?
With all the business of the seasons, extra events, and cold weather, it's easy to overlook your healthy routines or stick to healthy habits this time of year. Statistics state that the average weight gain through the Holiday season only amounts for 1-2 lbs which you think might be easy enough to shake off in spring but one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that it might be a lot harder than you think.
So here are some of my favorite sweet switches for the holiday season, so the healthy habits continue, yes eat a cookie or two, have fun, be healthy and practice mindfulness.
Harvest season for Pears runs August–February, Just past the tail end of their season, pears and apples are well kept in cold storage through the winter months and are a great local food that will add a source of vitamin C and boost live food enzymes if eaten raw, through a season when people naturally eat more cook foods. Keeping a few selections of fruits in the house will help combat reaching for those sweet cookies from Aunt Bee every time you want snack especially if you have a sweet tooth like I do!
Pears are a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre, helping to satiate appetite, even better paired with a little fat from some almond butter or a handful of walnuts, balancing and maintaining blood sugar with the paired healthy fats helping to slow the usher of glucose in the blood to the cells.
Cooking pears can really bring out their fabulous flavor, so try them baked or poached topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Health benefits include:
~Good source of vitamin C and copper
~4 grams of fibre per serving
~They have an excellent ability to alkalize the body, among some of the other fruits on the list it leaves an alkaline residue, offsetting a lot of what most of us eat becoming acidic in the systems.
Pair pears with oats, honey, coconut oil, and cinnamon to make a mouth watering pear cobbler to share with friend and family at your next holiday function.
Harvest season for pomegranates are from August to December and almost any store you walk into is loaded with these lovely power packed fruits!
This slightly sour but delicious sweets fruit has gotten a lot of press as an powerhouse antioxidant. The juice provides a tangy base for marinades, and the seeds can be tossed into salads to amp up the flavor. Health benefits include:
~Good source of vitamin C and folate
~ A published study through NCBI concludes pomegranate juice has higher antioxidant levels than red wine.
These beauties will keep you just as engaged as a box of toffees sitting on the coffee table but you will never feel bad finishing the whole thing off!!
Dates are harvested from September–December so you will see quite a variety in the stores. I love, love, love medjool dates for their adaptability and fleshy fruit, but there are many kinds to choose from and all of them will give you a sweet alternative to sugary sweets this time of year. This Middle Eastern favourite is a sweet fruit that is perfect in baking instead of sugar, chopped up in desserts, or stuffed with cashew cheese or almonds. Health benefits include:
~Low in fat
~Good source of fibre
~Good source of potassium
Try switching a few of your favorite recipes that call for sugar to dates and add nutrition instead of using refined sugar void of any nutrition.
One of the easiest might be the Pear Crumble mentioned above. Soak 4-6 pitted dates in hot water for 15mins, drain then mix with warmed coconut oil in a blender,pour mixture over the oats and fold in, cinnamon and a pinch of salt, spread over the pears and cook at 350 for 35-40 mins.
Enjoy the season!
Health and Happiness to you and your family through the Holidays Season and all of the years to come!