Healthy Holiday Traditions
During the holidays it’s fun to gather with friends and family, so it’s natural to want to feel our best. But being fit is not easy when rich, tempting foods are as common as the Christmas carols streaming through the speakers at the mall.
If your family is like most, there are probably a few unhealthy treats that are part of your holiday tradition: cookies, cakes, pies, roasts, and creamy potatoes being just the start. But according to Dr. Cedric Bryant, Chief Exercise Physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, “A 160 lb.person would have to run at a moderate pace for 4 hours, swim for 5 hours or walk 30 miles” to burn off the typical holiday plate. Unless you plan on a 6 hour spin class the day of your feast, you might want to re-think your meal.
December is a perfect time to take a look at your recipe book and think about what food memories you are passing down to your children and grandchildren. Does your favorite potato recipe use a full stick of butter? Are your Christmas cookies filled with bleached flour, refined sugar, and food coloring?
A lot of the recipes we think of as the perfect holiday dishes are based on the dangerous and outdated traditional American diet, which is laden with animal-based, processed, high fat, high caloric foods. The good news is: It’s never too late to start new traditions. Revamping the holiday menu can be a great interactive project.
First, make a list all of the recipes that are family favorites. Identify problem areas such as high fat, high calorie, high sugar, highly processed, empty calorie foods. Second, using the Internet (or one of any number of plant-based, whole-foods cookbooks available at local bookstores) choose replacement recipes that are naturally flavorful, colorful, and nutritious. If you have time, you could even have a test kitchen run-through to perfect the recipes before the meal itself. To make the project even more meaningful, gather the new recipes in a document to distribute to family and friends. And voila! There’s your new heart-healthy holiday tradition.
With the upsurge of exciting local, wholesome plant-based foods in even the most accessible grocery stores, you can now easily replace fatty, animal-based recipes with colorful, anti-oxidant rich treats. You will be able to enjoy the bounty of the holiday season without adding excess inches. So re-vamp your holiday menu and give your family the gift of good health for years to come.