Holiday Eats

So, the time is upon us – Thanksgiving! How many of you love the Thanksgiving holiday? Oh, me, me, me!  Mostly, because of the amazing food shared with amazing loved ones, right? Well, during the holiday season, when it comes to food and nutritional choices, I basically uphold 2 philosophies:

  • Holidays are to be celebrated with food
  • Not every day is a holiday

So, let’s talk for a moment about the concept of celebration and celebratory foods. Food is an important part of any celebration in all countries of the world, regardless of culture or religion. Take for an example, the wedding celebration. In China, they serve roast suckling pig, fish, pigeon, chicken, lobster and a type of bun stuffed with lotus seeds – the lobster represents the dragon and the chicken the phoenix, so including both on the menu is thought to harmonise the Yin and Yang of the newly joined families. In Italy, you will often find wedding foods such as bow tie-shaped twists of fried dough, sprinkled in sugar, representative of good luck and the traditional Italian wedding cake is made from biscuits. In Australia, birthdays are celebrated much as they are in America with a decorated cake and lit candles. In Ganda, however, a child’s birthday is celebrated with a breakfast fried patty made from mashed sweet potato and eggs as well as a dish made from fried plantain (a kind of banana). And when it comes to Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, much of the world is abound with all types of traditional celebratory foods, depending upon local availability as well as religious significance.

  • France – black and white pudding, which is sausage containing blood
  • French Canada – desserts like doughnuts and sugar pie
  • Germany – gingerbread biscuits and liqueur chocolates
  • Nicaragua – chicken with a stuffing made from a range of fruits and vegetables including tomato, onion and papaya
  • Russia – a feast of 12 different dishes, representing Christ’s disciples
I firmly believe that when it comes to celebrating something significant, we should stop counting calories and just eat it – enjoy! Don’t worry that a slice of pecan pie is about 450 calories or that a traditional Thanksgiving meal averages about 3000 calories per person (sans the alcoholic beverages) or that the yummy cup of egg nog is about 350 calories. remain cognizant of what you’re eating (especially if you have specific food allergies) but otherwise stop worrying about it and enjoy the moment.
Where I believe that we as Americans tend to overdo it is in the idea that our holiday (note: day) seems to occur for about 60 days straight – for some reason, a day’s celebration turns into 2 months of overindulgence which can be catastrophic for health. No sooner did we wrap up Halloween, celebrated with sweet treats and candies, and literally 24 hours later all of the stores and malls are decked to the nines in shiny Christmas decor! The social pressure is intense – late night cocktail parties, office celebrations, and all of the incredible baked goods.  So, here is some advice to stay on track nutritionally throughout the holidays.
  1. Bring a Healthy Dish to Pass: Next time you attend that holiday bash, bring a food dish which you know is healthy, like a nice big green salad.
  2. Eat Before You Go: This is key!  So often, we deprive ourselves of food throughout the day in anticipation of chomping down all the junk food later in the evening.  You think you’re saving calories, but ultimately, you’re simply increasing your intake of the “bad stuff”. Eat as you normally do and you will find that by the time that party rolls around, all of the sweets and high-calorie hors d’oeuvres look a lot less appealing.
  3.  Don’t skimp on sleep: We’ve discussed the importance of sleep many times. When we run low on sleep, we are hungrier throughout the day as our body seeks ways to generate energy. Get 7-8 hours nightly.
  4. Keep up with your regular exercise: This is difficult during the holiday season because your schedule is otherwise occupied with shopping,  parties and other commitments. Don’t forget to prioritize your health this season and stick to your normal work-our routine.
  5. Freeze leftovers: Okay, so that pumpkin pie is staring you down from across the room, right? Simply wrap it up tight and put it in the freezer.  Out of sight, out of mind!
  6. Throw out the junk: Okay, I know that a lot of you have difficulty throwing away “good” food and conceptually, I agree. However, when it comes to all of the holiday sweets and junk, you will need to make a choice: throw them in your wastebasket and or add them to your waistline.
Check back for more tips and fun, nutritious holiday recipes!

One thought on “Holiday Eats

Leave a Reply