Here we are again—smack dab between holidays. Whatever December holiday you celebrate, you’re bound to still feel stuffed with turkey while wrapping gifts for family members. Although it seems like the last month of the year flies by, some of us find ourselves at home, with kids or other family, munching mindlessly.
Others of us report to half-empty offices, passing by desks chock full of chocolates, holiday cookies and other treats that call our names. I call this time of year “the Holiday Zone.”
While I’m in “the Zone,” I try to help myself, my family and friends, by having fruit and veggies cut up and stored in easy-to-store containers in my home or work refrigerators. When someone stops by or when you find yourself in a workday lull, you can simply pull out a handful of these crunchy treats and dip them in some with some salsa or hummus. These easy, high-nutrient snacks make great, lasting-energy fare that won’t crank up your total holiday calorie tally all that much.
I’m a big seltzer fan, since I’m also a recovering diet soda addict. I always have seltzer on hand, especially this time of year. No calories, but lots of bubbles, seltzer is great not only for mixing “grown up” drinks, but also for adding fun and sparkle to kids’ drinks. When my kids want their own special “cocktail,” I mix some bubbly seltzer with their juice, stick a piece of fruit on the side of their glasses, and they are thrilled with their fancy beverage.
Another fun idea for families stuck inside while in “the Zone” is to put your kids to work making healthy dishes. I remember making batches and batches of cookies with my mother and grandmother during the holidays, but what you make doesn’t have to be sweet. What about putting together a veggie lasagna—kids love piling on the layers? I like to tell them that it’s a triple-decker pizza, which makes it sound much more fascinating.
Most of all is a choosy eater during the holidays. Think of yourself as a food connoisseur, not a human vacuum cleaner! When at a holiday gathering, eat that truly delicious homemade toffee candy, a sweet potato and feta latke, or have a small glass of delicious eggnog—the things you wait for all year. Bypass the junk you can eat anytime, like the chocolates, candy, potato chips and soda.
And as a parting thought–savor your holiday food. Relax, take the time to nourish yourself and focus on the pleasure, and let go of the stress, which the holidays can bring.
– Chris Cooper MS, RD
Guest blogger Christen Cooper MS, RD specializes in nutrition education, lecturing, writing and research. She is the owner of Cooper Nutrition Education & Communications, coopernutrition.com. She lives with her husband and two children in Westchester County, NY.