Mindful Choices: A Guide to the Holidays

You may think it’s impossible to eat healthy during the holiday season, but there are quite a few nutritious items available. By making intentional choices you can survive holiday shopping, festive parties, family gatherings, and still keep your goals on track. Finally, you don’t have to deprive yourself – just keep moderation and balance in mind.

A few traditional holiday foods that fit the bill include:

  • Turkey – this protein-rich option is a popular festive entrée. However, the key with any holiday food is to pay attention to your eating experience and eat until you’re satisfied. When considering seconds, wait 15 to 20 minutes, ask yourself if you’re still hungry and go back if you really think you’ll enjoy it. 

  • Cranberries – this tangy fruit is a great source of nutrients and antioxidants. Use fresh or frozen ones to make your sauce instead of using the sugary canned version.

  • Sweet potatoes – keep it simple with the garnishes: try seasoning with cinnamon to bring out the natural sweetness. Consider roasting potatoes for added flavour or mashing them with broth and herbs or spices.
  • Peppermint tea – to warm you up after an active day outside, this is a great alternative to a sugar-laden candy cane or specialty coffee/tea.
  • Pumpkin – rich in beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant, pumpkin is great as a soup to start or pie to finish. For example, try a crustless pumpkin pie topped with vanilla yogurt as a healthy, yet creamy and satisfying option for dessert. 

Or, be unconventional and try a few new recipes this year; there are lots of healthy alternatives to traditional favourites.

A few other tips for a healthy holiday season:

  • Keep things colourful by enjoying brussels sprouts, green salads, mandarin oranges, pomegranates or squash.
  • Use cheese, dried fruit, nuts, and the baked goodies on the side, not as the main event. (Choose the ones you really enjoy and don’t forget to include a proper meal too.)

  • Use spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, thyme, etc.) to flavour your food and use whipped creams, added butter, dips and sauces sparingly, or only when it’s really needed.
  • Share leftovers with your guests so you aren’t tempted to overindulge just because the food is there.

Above all, enjoy the season and try not to stress about a few days or weeks. It’s more important to focus on how (what, when and how much) you eat most days of the year – not just from December 24th to 31st!