Healthy Holiday Eating: 5 Tips to Lighten the Metabolic Load

Turkey DinnerDo you feel that healthy holiday eating is an oxymoron?  Do you just assume that you are going to add the ‘holiday ten’ and deal with losing it after the New Year?  I guess you could choose that, but I can’t tell you how rough that is on your blood sugar chemistry and how long it might take you to turn your metabolic ocean liner back around again. The older you are,  the more belly fat you have, the more work you’ve done to improve  your weight and if getting started with sweets makes it hard for you stop……then you’ve got ocean liner metabolism, meaning it doesn’t turn itself around on a dime, it’s not a speed boat. So, over indulging during the holidays is risky metabolic business!

What are all the ways, big and small, that add up to lighten your metabolic burden  during the upcoming holiday meals and still enjoy your food?


1.  Eat Real Food As Much As You Can!

If you just followed this one tip you would get through the holidays a lot lighter and healthier and without any worry of back sliding on the regimen that you may have been working on all year!  You’d want to choose sweet potatoes over bread, baked cinnamon apples over boxed or store bought cakes or start with a beautiful salad instead of hors d’oeuvres of chips, dips, cheese and crackers.  Bowls of kale chips  or toasted nuts are satisfyingly crunchy and light enough not to take away your appetite for a special meal ahead.  Don’t buy ‘instant’ anything, use the real thing that takes a bit longer to cook and you really don’t need canned soups or gravies – make it all from real ingredients!

2.   Add High Antioxidant Foods to Your Holiday Favorites

Pomegranate healthy holiday eatingThere are some great antioxidant rich foods that you can add to your  favorite dishes. For example, add pomegranate seeds to salads or mix them with other fruits such as sliced fuyu persimmons or apples.  You could use dried cherries or berries in your stuffing and remember that cranberries aren’t just a side condiment but are great in pies or reduction sauces for meats.

And when it comes to antioxidants don’t skimp on the fresh herbs and high quality spices.  Buy new spices if you need to so they are fresh with antioxidant and anti inflammatory value!

3.  Lower The High Glycemic Carb Choices

Forget the bread! Bread, rolls or crackers are an unnecessary low/no quality high glycemic carb. You don’t need it when there are so many other flavor packed real food  choices!   I would choose sweet OR mashed potatoes, not both.  Better yet, make cauliflower mashed faux-tatoes and then serve stuffing as the only carb.  Always make more veggie side dishes than sides of carbs.

Offer a fruit dessert option in addition to pie.  Like spiced baked apples, warm fruit compote, winter fruit salad with spiced nuts (try different kinds of spices), warm poached pears in a creative poaching liquid.   You can also try crustless pies (pumpkin is great for this), bubbly warm fruit crisps and raw desserts with nut or coconut crusts.

Even black bean brownies are a better choice than flour laden ones.

Choose higher protein, lower glycemic flours like almond, coconut or other nut flours if you are going to bake.  And use the least amount of real sweetener (maple syrup, coconut sugar, dates) as possible.

4.  Use Fresh Food  As Much As You Can

Nothing in your special holiday meal needs to come from a can or a box.  That’s right, not even the whipped cream! It might take 3-4 minutes to make fresh whipped cream but there’s nothing like it when you’ve used organic heavy cream and just a touch of pure maple syrup!  You can choose the firmness of your whip cream and it’s easily made ahead of time.

Remember to add fresh raw fruit and vegetable options to your holiday meal to get unadulterated nutrients and enzymes.  A great way to do this is to make a raw cranberry orange relish with bold spices that you can whip up in your food processor in 5 minutes!

All your veggies should be fresh, nothing frozen and certainly not canned!!!

Wash and prep them all ahead of time and you’ll good be good to go the day of.

When you use fresh food, there are no labels to read!

5.  Stay Away From Your Food Intolerances No Matter What!

Remaining gluten free through out the holiday season is easier than ever now due to readily available gluten free substitutes!  These aren’t healthy foods necessarily but they do allow you to be gluten free.  Remember to always take care of yourself around your food intolerance needs:  speak up ahead of time, ask questions about ingredients and bring your own if need be so you have what you want to eat!  The more prepared you are, the more your holiday food experience will be seamless and enjoyable all the way around.  There is no need to feel different or left out!

Substituting dairy is pretty easy too since there are so many choices now for nut, rice and hemp milks.  Coconut milk products can create a rich and yummy dairy substitute and you can even buy full fat coconut milk, gather the cream on the top and whip it up with a small whisk to make a healthier dessert topping.

Remember that seeds are a nice substitute for nuts and that potato, arrowroot or tapioca starch are all good thickeners!  If corn is your problem then don’t use any corn starch, cornmeal or even xanthum gum in your baking – use guar gum.

That’s just a few tips for healthy holiday eating. Even making a few small changes that I have listed here adds up to a lighter, healthier holiday and much less burden on potential weight gain!  Let me know which healthier eating tips you used!

About Sheila Wagner PT, CN, BCHN

Sheila’s cutting edge ability to uncover hidden source(s) of health issues when no one else has is the first piece to her step wise approach in solving your persistent health complaints.

+Sheila Wagner is the ultimate expert assisting people nationwide to finally fix their health through 1:1 consults, group programs, lectures and classes.

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