Holiday Healthy Eating Survival Guide
On average, people gain 5 to 10 pounds during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. A typical holiday dinner can contain approximately 3,000 calories plus 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks before and after the big meal. Combined, that’s the equivalent of more than 2 1/4 times the average daily calorie intake and almost 3 1/2 times the fat — with 45 percent of calories from fat. The average person may consume enough fat at a holiday meal to equal three sticks of butter (Calorie Control Council). Traveling, work, family time and the stress of the everyday life can all wreak havoc on diet as well.
Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and focusing on the right supplementation regimen is also incredibly important in surviving the stressful holiday season. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays and thinking about vacation, many people neglect or forget not only their diet, but their vitamins and supplements.
I had the opportunity to chat with David Goldberg, CEO & Founder of Curos, who believes the supplement world should be easy to understand, transparent, trustworthy and above all, should provide products that actually work.
David believes, the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ could not be more true, and I could not agree more. David asked us to think about it this way: our bodies are made up of 37+ trillion cells that in their individual capacity each have a very specific job to do. In order for your cells to do their job they need nutrients, virtually all of which comes from food (and/or supplementation), thus it would stand to reason that the single most important thing we should do to stay healthy is mind what we eat. One of the most important biological processes is the conversion of these nutrients into ATP. If you remember back to high school biology, you might recall that your cells have something called ‘mitochondria.’ Your mitochondria are responsible for the conversion of nutrients into ATP, ATP is literally the FUEL your cells use to do their jobs.
David states that asking the question, ‘how important is food?’ is kind of like asking ‘how would my car run if I used saltwater to power my gasoline engine?’
David and I both concur that you simply CANNOT get all of the nutrients your body needs to be optimally healthy from food alone. David mentions: “One example is vitamin B2 or as it is commonly called Riboflavin. If you wanted to get a ‘clinical’ amount of Riboflavin (which is a critical nutrient in the repair of your DNA and other functions) you would have to eat 20 6oz sirloin steaks a day or crazy high amounts of spinach! Additionally, it’s not only the amount of food that makes it impossible to accomplish a truly optimized nutrient diet from food alone, but also realities like commercial farming which have deprived our food of retaining the nutrients (in particular minerals) they should be full of. Even one generation ago the nutrients harbored in our food sources were noticeably more concentrated. If you are focused on your health here are the three things David suggests that can be implemented immediately:
1. Eat Well + Exercise Often
2. Reduce Stress
3. Supplement With High Quality Products
It sounds simple, the good news, it is!
Stacy’s Holiday Survival Swaps
Here are some tips to keep you well fueled and prevent the holiday weight gain this holiday season:
Many people skip breakfast and lunch in preparation for an extravagant holiday feast. This poses problems for both your blood sugar and your waistline. Eat a well balanced meal for breakfast and lunch before heading to your holiday table to avoid overindulgence. Try starting your day with scrambled whole eggs for a dose of biotin, which is phenomenal for your hair, skin and nails.
Grab a high protein snack midday such as roasted unsalted almonds (also a superfood for your tresses), whole wheat crackers and veggies with cheese or bean-based chips dipped in hummus. For a holiday recharge, try a superfood whole food supplement such as Athletic Greens to boost your nutrition and energy 2-3 hours before your holiday meal.
Focus on nutrient dense foods while filling your plate. Pile on the healthy hair loving dark green leafys (opting out of the creamy veggies such as green bean casserole), add a cup of fresh fruit, a fist-sized amount of protein, and a small amount of complex carbs such as quinoa. Fill your stomach with vegetables and protein to ensure you’re not instantly running towards the desserts.
Stay active throughout your day before you sit down for a holiday meal. Wake up and exercise before piling into the car to see your family and friends, or heading to a holiday party. Aim for 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on Christmas morning or before spinning the dreidel rather than just lounging on the couch watching Netflix.
Avoid dehydration by drinking water throughout the day and refilling your glass during your holiday dinner. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking you’re hungry when you may, in fact, just be thirsty! If consuming alcoholic beverages, be sure to limit the sugary mixes and heavy caloric beers. Alternate your alcohol with glasses of water.
Be mindful of what you eat if noshing during the day, as this can double your caloric intake on your holiday! If you do snack during the day while spending time with family, enjoy roasted veggies (easy to make ahead of time), fresh popcorn popped in coconut oil, roasted pumpkin seeds, organic beef or turkey jerky, marinated olives or shrimp cocktail.
While mashed potatoes and gravy taste mighty delicious, it’s time to spruce up your side dish with a helping of healthy sweet potatoes. The sweet potato is a nutritional powerhouse filled with vitamin A and more fiber than a traditional white potato. This super potato also helps to protect your hair and skin from damage and nourish your dull, dry hair during the winter months. Skip the marshmallow filled sweet potatoes or creamy mashed sweet potatoes and try roasting sweet potatoes in coconut oil, sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and himalayan pink salt and squeeze fresh oranges on top. Roast in oven for 45 minutes-1 hour and you will have plenty of holiday sweetness. For added crunch, top with lower sugar granola or roasted pecans. Not only will this recipe be easier on your waistline, but it is also tremendous for your hairline. Coconut oil adds luster, shine and softness to the hair. Coconut oil prevents hair breakage and split ends, contributing to hair length, and in addition it has been shown to increase blood circulation, have anti-oxidant properties, and prevent protein loss.
Another alternative to mashed potatoes is mashed cauliflower for added vitamin C plus a huge calorie and carb savings. Replace your traditional mashed potatoes or even your bread stuffing with cauliflower as a gluten free, low carb alternative. You can even purchase ready made mashed cauliflower or riced cauliflower as a side dish in a pinch.
Add a festive, nutrient dense salad to your holiday table with cooked and chopped butternut squash, kale, fresh cranberries, and feta cheese. Drizzle honey, olive oil, herbs, and seasonings to add an extra punch of flavor to your squash salad.
The average slice of apple pie contains 300 calories with 40% of calories coming from fat. Avoid these empty calories by stuffing baked apples with gluten free oats, honey, cinnamon, and apple pie spice for a healthy twist on the traditional apple pie. Top with granola, seeds, or chopped nuts for a tasty crunch. Add a dollop of high protein vanilla Greek yogurt or Truwhip frozen dessert to make for a sweet treat.
Substitute traditional vegetable oil with coconut or olive oil while making potato latkes for Hanukkah (or even just as a yummy side dish). Swap out all purpose white flour for gluten free oat, coconut or almond flour while cooking. To add more nutrients and have low carb options for your potato latkes, use alternatives to potatoes such as spaghetti or butternut squash, cauliflower, parsnips, sweet potatoes and/or zucchini for extra dietary fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C. Sneak dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and swiss chard into your latke. Looking to make vegan latkes? Substitute your egg for a flax egg (mix 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp water). Top your latkes with plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt rather than sour cream to boost the protein. You can also use a non-dairy yogurt made from almond, hemp or soy milk.
Get creative with crudite and fresh fruit. Slice up veggies such as carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and red peppers to have your kids create a veggie turkey, christmas tree or menorah. For a dessert option, try using fresh berries, bananas, oranges and mango.
Experiment with making your own homemade applesauce with organic apples. Wow your guests by putting an interesting twist on your applesauce. Add ingredients such as pear, ginger, or raspberry to spice up your traditional sauce. Make extra to have around as a healthy snack option during the holiday weeks. Top with golden raisins and chopped walnuts. If choosing applesauce as a snack or holiday side dish, keep in mind that one serving of packaged cinnamon applesauce can contain up to 24 grams of sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
While chicken is typical for a main course meal, salmon can be just as delectable for your holiday plate. Salmon contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that play vital roles in brain health. If possible, always choose wild-caught Alaskan salmon over farmed salmon, as it has the lowest risk for possible contaminants, including pesticides and pollutants.
If baking with your family or friends, experiment with 100% whole wheat, coconut or almond flour while making cookies for your celebration. Substitute dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate while making recipes for cookies. Make your own icing with healthy ingredients such as greek yogurt, coconut milk cream, or unsweetened almond milk instead of store bought icing. If making holiday sugar cookies, look for sprinkles and toppings free from artificial colors and dyes.
About Stacy Goldberg, MPH, RN, BSN
CEO and Founder, Savorfull
Stacy passionately leads the Savorfull team as it sources outrageously delicious free-from foods for its online platform, which easily connects clients to discover and purchase the latest healthy food products, as well as to nutritional guidance and content. A member of the Quicken Loans Family of Companies, Savorfull also provides innovative nutrition programs for businesses, organizations as well as numerous professional and collegiate sports teams. A graduate of The University of Michigan School of Nursing with a Bachelor’s Degree in the Science of Nursing and a Registered Nurse, Stacy also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health, specializing in Human Nutrition from The University of Michigan School of Public Health. Stacy is a nationally recognized nutrition consultant and has worked with many teams in the National Basketball Association, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons ( Team Nutritionist). Stacy has been named the Official Health and Wellness Consultant/Nutritionist for the NBA Coaches Association. She is also a contributing writer and television personality. Stacy has been featured in publications including Sports Illustrated, Well & Good, Shape, Self, Fox News Magazine among others.
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