With Thanksgiving under our belts (literally) and December holidays around the corner, you may be considering putting your meals on hold for a month to compensate. Don’t be silly! All you have to do to eat your way to holiday happiness is reach for the right things.
Celebratory eating is one of the great pleasures of life. However, when you are not at a holiday party, try to make a few changes in your eating to help you keep your energy level high without the discomfort, regret, and ill health effects of a bulging waistline. Here are the top 3 foods to avoid or cut back on and the top 3 foods to indulge in.
To Avoid or Cut Back on:
#1 – Cheese. Oh, I know you love cheese. We all do—it’s practically a drug (google “casomorphins”). Loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, there’s hardly a worse dietary choice than cheese. Pull it off the top of whatever it has its greasy hands on. Imagine the feeling of the grease on your skin—kind of gross, right? That’s what greasy stuff is like on the inside too. Try instead a delicious cashew cream recipe instead blend: 1 cup cashews with 2 cups water, add salt to taste, and experiment with spices such as garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, or cilantro.
#2 – Meat! Meat, especially fatty meat, is the other poor dietary choice as it is high in cholesterol and saturated fat. If your family tradition is to have a roast for Christmas, I say go ahead and have some and enjoy it. But, try leaning toward eating more fish and/or a plant-based eating plan for your daily regime.
#3 – Watch those Added Fats. Use that oil and butter sparingly! Stay away from any fried foods. I never order my salad with dressing on it. Instead, I ask for balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Use a drizzle of each. If you want to try eliminating oil at home when you cook, try out an oil-free sauté by using seasoned water, vegetable broth, or mirin instead of oil.
To Indulge (finally, the good part!):
#1 – Beans. Beans are high in fiber, and most of us just do not get enough of the stuff in our diets! Fiber helps us feel full, which naturally prevents over-eating, and cleans our insides. They are high in calcium and protein, as well as numerous other phytonutrients that are certain to keep you feeling healthy and satisfied. Here’s a quick and easy recipe: Make a bean salad by tossing three types of beans and some chopped veggies and just drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you make a big bowl of this, you can grab this when you are on the run.
#2 – Greens. Green leafy vegetables are loaded with calcium. There are so many varieties from which to choose: Bok choy, collard greens, swiss chard, kale … pick one or two that look interesting and give them a try. Try a greens sauté using mirin and salt instead of oil, with a dash of sesame seeds on top!
#3 – Whole foods. Take a look at your next meal and ask yourself—is this whole, or processed? Whole foods are better for us. Whole foods are foods that have not been processed or refined. Or, if they have, it has been very little. They are either natural or very close to their natural state, and they do not contain the harmful additives that are found in processed foods. Take a look at your pantry and purge some of those processed foods.
As we age, these dietary choices become even more important—for optimal functioning of the brain, immune and endocrine (hormone!) systems, as well as maintaining a healthy weight, which is a key ingredient for chronic disease prevention.
Just a few changes in your daily regime will help enable you to maintain your energy and good health during the holidays and beyond!
Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN.
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