Post by contributor, Jamie Larrison
When I was little my mom, aunts and grandma would meet together every December to bake Christmas cookies for all our friends and family. It was an all day event that yielded hundreds of cookies.
The large dining room table at my Grandma’s colonial home would be covered in buckeyes, sugar, spritz, peanut butter chocolate, pineapple and seven layer cookies. Every year we baked the same favorites and ate them at family gatherings throughout the season.
My grandparents now live in a retirement community and distance has separated the cookie bakers. Yet we still have plenty of sweets every Christmas.
The holidays are a time when everyone splurges a little, or a lot, more than usual on sweets and junk food. Even many of the savory dishes are made with unhealthy ingredients, like green bean casserole with canned soup and onions fried in hydrogenated oil.
So how do you have fun socializing and fellowshipping with everyone this year, while managing to stay healthy this Christmas?
1. Pick Your Top 2
With so many holiday parties, it’s easy to constantly munch on junk food. One strategy is to limit sweets to your top one or two favorites. Choose items that look healthier, like the veggie tray or mashed potatoes to fill up on during the meal.
When it’s time for dessert, limit yourself to 1 serving. Eat the 2 cookies that look the best, or one piece of your favorite pie. Or if you really want some of the casserole made with processed ingredients, let that be your one cheat food.
2. Bring Your Own
Bring your own food for everyone to share. Bake desserts with healthier, real food ingredients, like these blondies with maple walnut sauce. this browned butter fudge, or these healthier chocolate bars that actually promote weight loss. Make mashed potatoes with pastured butter and milk. Bring a fruit tray with homemade, honey sweetened caramel dip. Indulge in some Blackberry Chocolate-Covered Ice Cream Bon Bons!
The dishes will taste just as good, probably better, and everyone else can enjoy some healthier food too.
This is a good time to bring some kombucha or water kefir with you in your own water bottle. Not everyone may want some of your home brewed kombucha, but fermented soda is a fizzy drink that even picky eaters will like.
3. Start With the Good Stuff
Fill up on items you know are good, like the veggie tray. If you fill up your stomach with healthier items first, it’ll be easier to pass on unhealthy ones.
4. Be Healthy at Home
Be sure to stick to healthy, nutrient dense foods when you’re at home. It’s easy to get into the habit of eating junk at home once you’ve been eating it in others homes.
Do gentle cleansing and detox throughout the holidays. Smoothies with lots of veggies, leafy greens and coconut oil don’t just taste great, but they boost your metabolism.
Grapefruit is especially good for weight loss. Doterra’s slim and sassy blend features grapefruit essential oil and tastes great in smoothies! I like adding 4 drops to some melted coconut oil before slowly drizzling it into the blender as I’m making the smoothie. Here’s a power packed smoothie recipe for when you’re low on energy, including what “healthy” ingredients to NOT use in a smoothie! And try this customizable coconut milk smoothie: rich in healthy fats to curb the munchies!
5. Drink it Up
Herbal tea is another great way to keep your body functioning optimally. Choose blends from a reputable source like Mountain Rose Herbs. Grocery store brands are too often loaded with “natural” and artificial flavors, not real nutrition.
Gently detox and maintain your organs throughout the season. Milk thistle is great for your liver, and green tea is an all around purifier.
Get a travel cup or water bottle and take your tea with you wherever you go. I love sipping on some when I’m out shopping or travelling in the car.
Check out this delicious round up of 50 warm drinks for cold days for some inspiration on healthy takes on indulgent drinks.
6. Don’t Forget to Move
Be sure to keep up your exercise routine. And if you don’t have one, don’t wait until New Year’s to start! Something as easy as walking laps around the house for 15 minutes will get your body moving, help prevent constipation from unhealthy foods and burn some calories.
Short on time? Do one minute power workouts. While you’re waiting for the water to boil on the stove, do thirty jumping jacks. Do lunges while you vacuum for guests. Unloading the dishwasher? Do squats every time you reach for a dish on the bottom rack. Raise up on your toes every time you put a dish away to stretch your calves.
If you do mess up and completely stuff your face with junk food at Christmas, don’t stress about it. Stress raises your cortisol levels which puts stress on your adrenal glands and promotes weight gain. The best thing to do is relax and make a better choice next time.