Home for the Holidays?

 Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?

If your family is spread out like mine, Thanksgiving and the December holidays represent a time when most of us gather at someone’s house to share stories about our lives and our year. Food abounds, libations flow, and resolve can go right out the door! Here are some great recipes that can expand to accommodate any size group…and some tips to minimize the “damage” that can result from holiday excess!

After the party’s over, it’s time to get down to getting through the rest of the holidays without doing yourself in. I like to call this the “Maintain, Don’t Gain” time of year.

1.   If you’ve made the traditional version of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie – think about who in your family needs that food more than you. Drawing a blank? You can put the food in food-safe containers (like the sandwich containers that are designed to be semi-disposable) and drive them to your local food pantry or street corner where homeless people beg for food. While healthy versions of these dishes can be created, it’s too late to do so now (if you already have unhealthy leftovers), so rather than eat them yourself, either give them to a grateful neighbor or family member, or toss them out.  Full fat cheese or dips and fiber-free crackers and chips belong in the same category,

2.   Leftovers that you can repurpose into healthy versions include turkey and vegetables (unless they were cooked in butter). There are endless salads and stir fry dishes that can be created with bits of both, or even a turkey pot pie (using brown rice and egg white as a crust). Make a meal plan for whatever you can use up healthfully. If you have a menu thought out that actually incorporates these items, they’re much more likely to get used up in a rational manner.

3.  Drinking your calories is just as bad as overeating. Start this period off right by committing to drink at least 2 glasses of water for every glass of wine or alcoholic beverage that you drink at dinner or a party. That’s in addition to the 8 glasses that you should be drinking daily. Let’s face it, there’s only so much liquid you can hold, so if you make that bargain with yourself before the start of an evening or event, you’ll be far less likely to consume excess beverage calories.

4.   Eat a healthy, well-balanced breakfast daily. This is especially important at the holiday time of year, as it’s much more likely that you’ll overeat during the day if you’ve started it right with a good, satisfying breakfast.

5.   Make a point to incorporate vigorous activity daily – structured exercise, or functional exercise  – don’t let the day end without some form of activity. Even if it’s 15 or 20 minute intervals (walking, taking the stairs). Add that up and you’ve got over an hour a week of exercise, which wakes up your body, your brain and helps keep your stress at bay. This can greatly help “curb the insanity” that starts just after Thanksgiving!

About NutriFit

Dedicated to a healthier body and mind, nutrition and wellness coach, educator and culinary expert, Jackie Keller, is the Founding Director of NutriFit, LLC, author of Body After Baby, A Simple, Healthy Plan to Lose Your Baby Weight Fast (Avery/Penguin Group; May 2007), and Cooking, Eating & Living Well, a cookbook and guide to nutrition-related lifestyle change.