How to Eat Healthy During the Holidays
By Connor Hanrahan
The holiday season often comes with delicious and hearty food. Although most of that food is full of fats and sugar, tasty but not very nutritionally redeeming.
Cold weather forces the heart to work harder and it is a common misconception that fatty foods will help you stay warm. In reality, you will feel warm after the meal while your body metabolizes the food, but the ‘cold weather caused’ blood vessel constrictions combined with the consumption of overly fatty foods sharply raises the chance of a blood clot or heart attack.
Turkey is the staple of any decent dish during the holidays, but it should also be the staple of a healthy diet. Another crowd favorite is ham.
“The nutritional value of the meats depends on the quality of the meat source,” said Santa Barbara-based personal trainer Daniel Senn. “Meaning the diet the animal was on and the presence of hormones, or lack thereof. Eating quality meat will not adversely affect health, but one should cut as many processed foods out of their diet as possible.”
“Look for range fed, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free turkey or ham,” confirmed author and gut health expert Julia Loggins. “The toxins and chemicals in most nonorganic farmed produce are impossible for our bodies to break down and process.”
Stuffing is often thought of as the quintessential side to the aforementioned turkey, often being cooked inside so it may soak up the juices of the turkey. An easy way to cut the fat from stuffing is to simply add less butter and use half of the fatty meats recommended.
The final staple to any successful holiday meal is mashed potatoes, the heaviest portion of the meal. High in starch and carbs, the best way to ensure the potatoes do not ruin your holidays is to “replace the cows milk in the recipe with almond or rice milk. You can whip your potatoes in either of those and you will not notice a difference,” said Loggins.
However, if altering your family’s traditional recipes is not an option, an alternative is to consume a nutritious appetizer like a banana or salad before the meal. Salads are very high in dietary fiber and will help your stomach better indicate to you when you are full to prevent overeating.
The digestional benefits of eating a salad beforehand also include: preparing the stomach for heavy foods such as sugars and starches, engaging your body’s digestion process before consuming heavy foods, and supplying your body with vitamins unavailable in the food being eaten during the holiday supper.
Preparing your stomach with a banana will provide the same health advantages as a salad but it will supply your body with different vitamins. Bananas are much higher than a salad in potassium, an element that can reduce chances of a blood clot by twenty one percent if eaten each day; the boost one needs before eating over one hundred percent of your daily carbohydrates and fats intake.
If digestion is a concern, adding brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, or artichoke to a recipe can double the fiber of an entire meal. If vegetables aren’t appealing, popcorn offers 14.4 grams of fiber, more than any of the aforementioned foods. The suggested daily fiber intake is 25 grams for women and 38 for men.
During the upcoming holidays, keep your heart in mind, be mindful of your health, and most importantly, enjoy the most delicious time of the year.