Staying on track during the Holidays
by Dr. Anthony Cutting
Right about now people start thinking about their health during the holidays and for many, it’s a great time to start making excuses and veering off track. Maybe you are traveling, which cuts into your active time? Maybe you have been mindful of healthy eating and are ready to start making some compromises that will lead you to feel lethargic and just might hinder your wellness plan.
Here are some tips that will help you stay on track during the Holiday season, even if you are traveling, are tempted by sugar and other foods that lead to inflammation and your body not feeling at its best.
First, set a goal. Make it a reasonable goal. Is it to move your body more during travels? Is it to create some healthy recipes to keep maintain your wellness? I tend to fall short with my emotional health during the holidays. My working hours are long, I don’t take much time off and I find that with the added stress and having my time compromised, I end up feeling overwhelmed, which leads to many physical issues with me.
This year, I am setting a goal to not overextend myself on time or energy. I know what my max is and I need to set time aside for things that make me happy and calm. Therefore, I will be with my family more this Holiday season and be sure to make time to exercise and calm my mind.
Eat mindfully. When you’re eating, sit back and allow yourself to truly enjoy your favorite holiday flavors. Pay attention to the taste, aroma, and texture of the foods. When the attention shifts from your body, redirect it back to your internal fullness and satisfaction cues. Since it takes a few minutes for your stomach’s “I’m full signal” to reach your brain, it’s advisable to take a 10-minute break after your first helping. You might realize you are full or want only a small portion of seconds. Other than that, don’t attend a party on an empty stomach as it makes you prone to overeating. As for the dessert, eat only one or two dishes you really love instead of sampling each and every option available on the table.
Choose healthy substitutes. With a few simple ingredient tweaks, you can indulge in your favorite holiday foods. For instance, add more vegetables to each of your dishes. Trade part of your mashed potatoes with this simple Cauliflower recipe (see below). And swap heavy dips like artichoke dip with healthy plant-based dips and homemade hummus. In addition, choose broth-based soups over heavy, cream-based ones. Substitute stuffing with gluten-free options such as healthy grains, like quinoa or squash (recipe below).
Reinvent your holiday workout. It might be a bit challenging to make time for a sweat sesh when your social calendar and to-do lists are jam-packed. In order to stay motivated, plan your workout regimen around your holiday schedule. Instead of the usual 30-minute routine, do a 15-minute workout in the morning and evening or go for a 10-minute walk twice daily. The aim is to split your physical activity into smaller, more manageable time intervals. If you don’t have time to hit the gym, workout in the comfort of your home with the help of online tutorials and fitness apps. Don’t forget some quiet time to calm your mind and get outside! Live well. Live active.
Quinoa and Sweet Potato Stuffing (Vegan):
1 large sweet potato, cubed, with skin on
2 cups of cooked quinoa
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1 sweet onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
4 Tablespoons fresh sage
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
Seasalt to season
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a frying pan, saute onions, garlic, and fresh herbs until golden brown.
Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked throughout.
Season with salt. Use as a traditional stuffing or as a side dish.
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (Vegan):
3 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Head of Cauliflower crowns
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil or vegan butter/ghee
1 cup of coconut cream or cashew cream
Seasalt to season
In a large saucepan, steam cauliflower crowns, garlic and potatoes until tender (about 20 minutes). Strain and return to pan. Add all other ingredients and blend with a high-speed blender. Add sea salt to taste and serve!
(You may opt to just use Cauliflower and no potato, but the starch is complimentary to holding the dish together)