How To Have A Healthy Holiday
The holiday season is well, magical! I LOVE all the pretty decorations, the twinkling lights on my holiday tree and then of course there’s the food. Ah yes, the food!
There are multitudes of different questions that pop into my head when it comes to staying on tract with my health and weight goals that are pretty much applicable all year, but are especially important to understand when it comes to the holidays.
The reason for that is because, if you’re like me, holiday eating has always been associated with lots of sweet treats, baked goodies and too many heavy meals that have their emphasis on carbs and fat instead of fruits, veggies and nutrition. But it absolutely doesn’t have to be that way!
Below are the top six (6) questions that I think are most important and the answer to them.
1. What foods will promote control of blood sugar?
I believe the answer to this question, while it may be wildly unpopular, is to first and foremost, eliminate the refined sugar and highly processed carbs. Use of natural sugars like raw honey, pure maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar and Stevia instead. As for the carbs, use grain-free flours like almond and coconut to create your yummy treats instead. Extremely low in carbs and very high in fiber, grain-free flours in my opinion are key to staying on track.
2. What foods will promote lowering of cholesterol?
Here’s where the conversation about healthy fats comes into play. Eliminate the use of canola, vegetable and any other highly refined oil and replace them with extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and ghee (or organic grass-fed butter).
I truly believe that having a diet that is high in saturated fat is not healthy. Trust me, I know all about the craze towards a ketogenic diet, and I also know that there can be some benefits. I also don’t believe it is sustainable and that in the long-run will have devastating effects on cholesterol levels.
So, that means, that another key to lowering and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is to consume cheese in strict moderation, and that the cheese you do eat, should be of the organic, grass-fed variety. My exception to that? Plant based cheese. There are some terrific cheeses available that are made from almonds and cashews…YUM!
3. What foods will promote weight loss?
Now there’s a loaded question if I ever heard one!!! With so many fad diets on the scene, being an advocate of a high fiber, Mediterranean style diet is rather unpopular. It is my humble opinion (and also what has worked like magic for me), is that it is the daily fiber consumed number that should be paid attention to. What that means is that you will have a diet that will fall somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-80 grams of carbohydrates daily. However, those carbs will be from high fiber foods like beans, veggies and fruits. Not all carbohydrates are equal. For example: a sugar-glazed donut has 22.36 grams of carbs and 1 cup of black beans has 39.74 grams. Obviously, one food is very healthy and the other, while delicious is completely devoid of any nutrition, just empty highly processed carbs and sugar. The other thing that the beans have that the donut does not is fiber. There are 16.6 grams of fiber in that same cup of beans, which means that the net carbs for that cup of beans is really 23.14 grams.
So what does the fiber do? Great question!
Fiber, especially the soluble fiber in beans is actually what helps to turn on the “I’m full” signal to your brain. Which means you eat less. Other benefits of fiber are that it is what cleans out your digestive tract, rids your body of excess fat and cholesterol and reduces the toxic load on your liver so it can do it’s job better. The other thing that fiber does is that it slows down your digestion which means that the sugar that is created from the foods you eat are released into your blood stream at a much slower rate, so fiber helps to regulate your blood sugar AND help you lose weight AND lower/maintain healthy cholesterol.
4. What foods are good proteins other than meats?
Plenty!!! While I’m not vegetarian, I do agree that eating a mostly plant-based diet is the healthiest. Good thing that there are LOTS of great plant-based protein sources! Here’s a few
- Black Beans
- Green Peas
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Milk
- Black Eyed Peas
- Green Beans
- Nutritional Yeast
- Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)
- Peanut Butter
Pretty amazing right? Which of these are your favorites?
5. How do I figure out what replacement ingredients to use?
Here’s where the fun begins! The place to start is to think FIRST about the nutrition. Don’t get me wrong, I love food too, but the place it all began to turn aound for me was when I started thinking about the actual nutrition I was putting in my mouth.
Obviously you don’t want to blow your whole day’s worth of carbs on a couple of donuts, so figuring out how to replace the unhealthy food ingredients with ones that are not only delicious, but also nutritious is where it starts.
Confused on how that all works? I have a great resource for that. The Unconventional Foodie Club was created for EXACTLY this purpose. Figuring out how to replace can be confusing, but it’s also extremely FUN!
6. Where do I find recipes to incorporate those new healthy replacements?
Well, the best place I know of (and I may be highly prejudiced), is right here in my recipes section. You will find all kinds of delicious recipes literally from soup to nuts. Many of which are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian.
Another great place to find healthy recipes is on Pinterest. I would suggest searching for Paleo type of recipes, because they are usually grain free (which means gluten-free) so the nutrition of the recipes is usually much better.
Last, but certainly not least, a fabulous place to find healthy recipes is my newly published recipe book specifically designed for surviving the holidays and staying on track. It is chock full, with 52 full color recipes that your entire family will LOVE! The book title is: Healthy Holidays with the Unconventional Foodie and is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can pick up the book here.
Which of these questions most resonated with you? Got any other ideas? Please comment below, I’d LOVE your feedback!
Also, if you found this information helpful, don’t be stingy, make sure you share it with your friends and family!