How to Keep Those Pounds Off This Christmas!

With so many tasty and tempting meals and snacks to enjoy this Christmas season, oh! how easy it is to gain a few pounds. How does one maintain healthy eating habits over the holidays and still celebrate?  This is especially challenging for those of us who will attend a number of socials. 

The first rule is to think about people, not food!
Make this season about socializing, making new acquaintances, and having fun.  Spend time talking story with friends and family, catching up on the latest news, or reminiscing with old friends.  Rather than think of this season as a time to gorge yourself on great food, think about this precious time of the year as a way to re-connect with everyone.

Plan ahead!
When arriving, see what’s being served and make a mental note to “sample” dishes and snacks that appeal to you most—without over eating and without giving up the good habits you’ve formed.  It’s okay to enjoy holiday treats.  Just pick your calories wisely and then enjoy!

Here are a few tips for avoiding holiday over-indulgence:

  1. Don’t arrive on an empty stomach.  Although you may be tempted to skip lunch so you can splurge on dessert, don’t!  Before you arrive, have a bowl or cereal, vegetable sticks, fresh fruit, a salad, a handful of nuts, or even a small sandwich.
  2. Avoid alcohol and snacks.  Without mentioning the other downsides of alcohol, the fact is that it provides many calories and virtually no nutrients.  Try not to sit within arm’s reach of tempting snacks.  Have some, but keep track.  Save your calorie choices for the main meal.
  3. Select small portions.  Moderation is the key.  Small portions allow you to enjoy all of the items offered without loading up on calories.  If you really crave a high-calorie item, go ahead and treat yourself to a small serving.
  4. Eat slowly.  Take time to enjoy your meal.  Pace yourself and try to be the last one to finish each course.  Take small bites, chew slowly.  It usually takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full.  By eating slowly, you can help prevent yourself from over-indulging—especially at the dessert table.
  5. Leave the table when you are done.  Lingering at the table leaves you tempted to continue picking and eating even if you are not hungry.  Stay long enough to enjoy the meal, but leave the table while you are still ahead of the calorie game.  Offer to help with dishes, clear the table, or invite someone to take a walk with you.

Offer to bring a healthy dish!
Feasting with family and friends, so central to this beloved holiday, is made all the merrier when compassion is paired with the abundance of the season.  Bringing a vegetarian or vegan dish to your party provides you with a good menu option, especially when attending social events that do not share your passion for vegetarian or vegan foods.  Your host will greatly appreciate the help.

It doesn’t need to be difficult to choose festive and colorful recipes for a vegetarian or vegan Christmas dinner menu, desserts, and appetizers.  For a wide selection of recipes that you can mix and match to plan your holiday gatherings, visit the Recipe page of the Down to Earth website and click on “Holidays” in the recipe search box. When you place your cursor on the Recipe navigation button on the homepage, you’ll see it in the drop-down menu.  Or, simply visit http://www.downtoearth.org/recipes/holiday

Here are a few recipes for main dishes to get you thinking:

Seitan
Seitan with Maple-Balsamic Glaze
Beet Bourguignon
Smoked Vegetarian Apple Sausage with Swiss Chard & Shiitake Mushrooms

Tempeh
Tempeh "Bolognaise" Pasta
Lemon-Glazed Tempeh & Vegetables
Tempeh Stroganoff

Lentils
Lentil Tamarind Stew
Slow Cooker Split Pea & Lentil Soup
Red Lentil & Pepper Soup

Mushrooms
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Smokey Baked Tofu with Mushroom Gravy
Mushroom and Squash Casserole

As always, “Love Life! Eat Healthy, Be Happy” and this holiday season …we hope you and your friends and loved ones have a Merry Christmas!

Footnotes: 

Reference: “Healthy Eating for the Holidays,” University of California at Los Angeles http://www.dining.ucla.edu/housing_site/dining/SNAC_pdf/GiftOfGoodHealth...  (Accessed 11/28/16)