A guest post by Gretchen Garrison
You’ve been good all year. Overall, your health is changing for the better. After all, thanks to Norwex, you are using fewer chemicals. For the past several months, this has even motivated you to eat less processed food as well. Then the calendar page turned to November. You mostly survived eating well at Thanksgiving, but now with Christmas coming, you are panicking at the thought of being surrounded by all the tastes that imply tradition.
Our culture seems to not only allow overindulgence this time of year but encourage it. In fact, overeating is expected. Recently I saw a commercial for a sit-com where the high school girl was a bit shocked to see her middle-aged mother getting out her maternity pants. She corrects her quickly, “No, honey, these are my holiday pants.” Funny on the screen, but not so humorous in real life. If I am buying new clothes the first part of the year, I want them to be in a smaller size, not a larger one. All sorts of articles can be found online providing technical nutritional advice, but to completely avoid Christmas cookies causes me to say “Bah, Humbug.”
Yet I am going into this Christmas season fully intending to continue on with my healthier eating and to see the numbers on my scale continue to go down. While some of my ideas below are not original, I am guessing a few of these suggestions you will not find anywhere else. Hopefully they will also help you over this next month!
1. Make a commitment to exercise at least five days a week during December. Struggle finding the time? Park on the far end of the parking lot. Take the stairs over the escalator/elevator. Better yet, shop on the first floor, then go up to the second, then back to the first and so on. By the end of the night, you will have actually gotten in a mini workout while shopping. Shoveling also counts as exercise – volunteer to help your neighbors. The more you move, the better you will be. Plus you are not going to want to undo all of the positive effects of your long walk by eating three pieces of pie! 🙂
2. Plan your meals in advance. When you arrive home late without knowing your dinner options, turning to Christmas cookies for sustenance is an easy choice. Guess what? You will be hungry again in 20 minutes. Also, if you know you are going to an evening buffet, choose to eat healthier the rest of the day. Do not arrive starved, instead keep your metabolism up all day by eating lots of vegetables and drinking lots of water.
3. One bit of advice often repeated is to avoid drinking calories. What is sledding without hot chocolate? Or decorating the tree without hot apple cider? My suggestion is that you make these drinks at home. Make your hot chocolate when you can control the ingredients and the sugar. Sometimes what we think is low calorie is not necessarily that way. For instance, drinking just a half a cup of light egg nog results in 110 calories. In our family, we tend to add our egg nog to lowfat milk – less calories but still with the egg nog taste. If you just HAVE to have a drive through specialty peppermint mocha drink, indulge once or twice during the season, rather than daily.
4. Only make sweets when others are around to share them. Rave about your traditional peanut brittle to your co-workers, then promise you will bring them some the next day. After making the batch, you will know you need to save most of it for work. Make your favorite holiday sugar cookies for your neighbors or for a cookie swamp. Any way that you can avoid having five dozen sweets sitting around is a good choice. Also, for me, I need to pay attention to just how much cookie dough I am enjoying. Licking the bowl needs to count as a cookie, not just as clean-up. 🙂
5. Adapt your favorite recipes. This week I made “Buckeyes” with my kids. Growing up, I knew these delicious bites as “Peanut Butter Bon-Bons.” One of my childhood favorite Christmas treats, I have been known to eat several at a time without even blinking. This time, I was prepared. First of all, I drizzled them in chocolate rather than submerging them. Second, I used my smallest cookie scoop to portion them out. While I must admit that through the day I still ate three or four them, my calories were still reasonable. And I enjoyed tradition. Just in case, you would like to include this in your cookie recipe collection, here is my version.
Peanut Butter Bon-Bons (aka Buckeyes)
Melt 1/2 c. butter. Mix in 3/4 -7/8 c. peanut butter into the warm butter. Gradually stir in 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar. Form into small balls. Chill for awhile. Then melt 1/3-1/2 c. chocolate chips and 1 t. shortening in the microwave. Drizzle over the little peanut butter balls. Keep in the very back of the refrigerator where you have to be quite intentional about sneaking one.
This version is based off of a Taste of Home recipe. Because I know my limits, I made half the recipe, plus I greatly reduced the chocolate. My childhood version involved melting paraffin wax with chocolate for the topping – not such a great idea. If you do not want the chocolate to be crunchy, you can leave the shortening out.
Hopefully these ideas will help you to enjoy the holidays without needing to upsize your wardrobe. If not, don’t worry. This blog will be featuring a series all about New Year’s Resolutions. One of them will definitely include the aspect of healthier eating. Until then, Christmas cheer!
P.S. Need a few fun Christmas food ideas to add to your recipe box? Please check out Suzanne’s Healthy Holidays Pinterest board.