Holiday tips and tricks

The Halloween costumes are packed away, the candy wrappers are cleaned up and out of site, and the holiday season is officially in full effect.  Although it feels like you have gained 5-10 lbs. over the holidays, studies show that the average weight gain is only about a pound or two. Seems harmless right? Wrong! Most people never lose the pound they gain and over time the pound add up. More importantly holiday behaviors can spike up stress levels, throw a wrench in exercise habits, and increase gluttony, overall leaving your body feeling exhausted and more susceptible to disease. But it’s not all bad news, if done right the holidays can be quite the opposite, leaving you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated – the trick is to have a plan in place. Here are some tips to keep you on track for the holidays. Remember to be completely honest with yourself during this time of the year, if you are prone to over eating or emotional eating then work on portion sizing so you don’t activate those triggers. You may have spent all year working on revamping your nutrition lifestyle; it’s time to put it to the test.

Here are some tips to think about.

  1. Planning ahead and be clear and realistic about how you will eat during this time. Allow for extra calories and giving into your cravings.
  2. If you really really want it, then eat it…
    BUT make sure it is the BEST and SAVOR it. This is one of my favorite rules. If you want a cookie or a cupcake then nourish your body with it but not just any cupcake from the local store, eat the $5 cupcake that is hand made with fresh ingredients and bursting with flavor and enjoy every bite.
  3. Stick with it. Attempting to not eat at all before or after these peak periods or events is not a good idea. This deprivation usually results in overeating later. Instead stick with your routine as closely as possible.
  4. Hunger or Craving? These cues are even more difficult to distinguish during the holidays when you are surrounded by visual food and engulfed in the smells. Maintaining a structured eating pattern can help to recognize the difference between hunger and craving, and to eat until no longer hungry rather than until full or over full. Check out the post on overeating.
  5. Choose the Best Bets on the Buffet. While each of us has our own favorites, keep in mind that some holiday foods are better choices than others.
  • White turkey meat
  • Plain veggies
  • Roasted sweet potatoes (my favorite)
  • Defatted gravy
  • Green beans
  • Pumpkin pie sans crust ( its high in vitamin A and fiber)
  • Stuffing (see recipe below)
  1. Drink Water. I’m a big proponent of hydration for health. Drinking water lets you accurately assess hunger and keeps gut working efficiently. Also drinking water between alcoholic beverages keeps you sober and limits the intake. Also, drinking water between alcoholic beverages keeps you sober and limits alcohol calories.
  2. >PLAY! The holidays are a time for food, family and fun. Take the time to celebrate relationships with family and friends and do something active together. Going for a hike, having a football game, playing with kids, and even laughing and cooking together are all ways to keep moving.
  3. Relax. The most important tip of all is to take this time to let go of life’s stresses and relax the mind. Pamper yourself, take a few deep breaths, smile, and allow your body to rejuvenate. In the long run this will pay off.

What are you Holiday tips and tricks for staying healthy? Post to comments…

Recipe Rx: Gluten Free Stuffing

Stick with the program with this wonderful GF stuffing compliments of the Well Blog. Enjoy!

1 cup regular (golden) quinoa

3/4 cup black quinoa

5 1/4 cups water, chicken stock or vegetable stock

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3/4 pound butternut squash cut in small dice

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup diced celery

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Keeping the quinoas separate, wash in several changes of water. In separate saucepans, combine the golden quinoa with 3 cups water or stock and the black quinoa with 2 1/4 cups water or stock. Add salt to taste, bring to a boil, cover and simmer 15 to 25 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and the grains display a coiled thread. The black quinoa takes longer to cook, and the thread will not pop out of all of the grains. Drain through a strainer and return both quinoas together to one of the pots. Place a clean kitchen towel over the pot and return the lid. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet and sauté the squash, stirring often, until it is tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining oil and the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add a generous pinch of salt and the celery and thyme. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, until the onion is completely tender and the celery is just tender, and add the garlic. Stir over medium heat until the garlic smells fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and transfer to the bowl with the squash. Add the quinoa and the remaining ingredients and stir together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to an oiled or buttered baking dish and cover with foil.

3. Warm for 20 to 30 minutes in a 325-degree oven before serving.

Yield: Makes about 7 cups, serving 12 to 14.

Advance preparation: The entire dish can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cooked quinoa will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and can be frozen.

Nutritional information per serving (12 servings): 173 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 24 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 13 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein.

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Ritu Riyat is an applied yoga and mindfulness expert. She equips her clients with tools to reconnect with their bodies, eliminate stress, and make more informed decisions about their health and well being.

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