Dr. Taz MD, Solutions for Living Healthy Naturally: Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us; the Halloween candy was just the beginning. In just a few days, turkeys, hams, dinner rolls, casseroles, and pies will be here to tempt you. After that will be holiday parties, the holidays themselves, and New Year’s. It is no wonder the average American gains a pound during the holiday season [1], and if you are over-weight that number is more likely to be over 5 pounds. A pound a year during the holidays is not much weight; but most Americans never lose that pound. Over the years those pounds just pile on one another. To help you keep this year’s pound off, here are some tips for celebrating in moderation:

1.Eat a healthy meal or hearty snack before going to any party. Going to a party hungry makes saying no to high calorie snacks and treats even more difficult.

2.“Spend” your calories on foods that are worth it. Bypass the store-bought cookies and snacks; indulge in quality instead of quantity like a slice homemade yule log or pumpkin pie.

3.When baking, substitute Greek yogurt or applesauce for butter and oil. This works best in breads like banana bread or muffins.

4.Forgive yourself when you slip up and tell yourself that you are going to eat healthy the next day. If you forgive yourself of your mistakes, you will be less likely to give up on yourself and give in to temptation [2].

5.If you are hosting, do your best to limit processed foods and look for healthier ways to serve your holiday staples. Instead of the infamous green bean casserole, sauté fresh green beans in olive oil with garlic and shallots. The dish showcases the green bean and eliminates all the mystery ingredients involved in cream of mushroom soup and fun Yuns.

This holiday season may also present a unique challenge to many hosts and hostesses in the form of gluten-free guests. With gluten allergies, intolerances and gluten-free diets on the rise, at least one gluten-free guest is bound to attend your holiday festivities. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. You can easily make many of your holiday dishes gluten free with minor alterations. Your Thanksgiving turkey can be made gluten free by seasoning it with spices and if you chose a store bought marinade or brine, just make sure the ingredients do not list wheat, barley, rye or gluten. Fortunately, making gluten free baked goods is as simple as picking up gluten free all-purpose flour at the grocery store. You do not need to prepare a completely gluten-free meal, being mindful of and labeling dishes that contain gluten goes a long way. This also applies with other common allergens such as milk, eggs, nuts and soy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

1.Roberts, S., & Mayer, J. (2000). Holiday weight gain: fact or fiction. Nutrition Reviews, 58(12),378-379.

2.ADAMS, C., & LEARY, M. (2007). PROMOTING SELF-COMPASSIONATE ATTITUDES TOWARD EATING AMONG RESTRICTIVE AND GUILTY EATERS (English). Journal Of Social And Clinical Psychology, 26(10), 1120-1144.