Tuesday, December 8, 2009

10 Easy Ways to Stay Thinner and Healthier Through the Christmas Season

Well, it's December, and we are only a couple of weeks away from Christmas!

What an exciting time of year! There's so much preparation that goes into these few weeks before Christmas, be it sending out Christmas cards, shopping for gifts, and oh, the food preparation! Cookies, fudge, candy, galore! It's kind of interesting how we spend lots of time shopping for special ingredients and making all kinds of delectable treats, and then eating with no thought to tomorrow or our long term health. Then, come January 1st, we make all kinds of new resolutions for solving the problem we created over Christmas: e.g. eating better, exercising more, etc. Is it possible to delight in some of the delicious food this season has to offer without having to make some major resolutions when we hit the new year?

I think so! Here are a few tips for participating in all the munching that goes on at Christmas parties and gatherings in the weeks ahead:

1. Drink... plenty of water! That will help to keep you from over-doing it when you get into the line for food.

2. Avoid/Limit... the SWEETS, especially made with white or brown sugar. Do what you can with less refined, more natural, sweeteners: dried fruits, honey, maple syrup, molasses, sucanat/rapadura (unrefined cane sugar). However, even these ought to be used sparingly. It's better to stick to whole foods.

3. Indulge... in lots of negative calorie foods. These are foods that require more energy (calories) to digest than they contain in themselves.
  • Watch vegetable trays for: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, radishes
  • At a restaurant dinner, order a salad.
  • For breakfast, have a grapefruit or a fruit salad of apples, mangoes, oranges, and pineapple
  • Try frozen berries, especially in a green smoothie.
You'll notice all these things are high in fiber. So, whenever you can choose foods higher in fiber, you will help yourself to maintain (or help shrink) your waistline.

4. Enjoy... the natural whole food delights of the season: fresh pomegranates, oranges, apples, pears.

5. Be FESTIVE... with salads! Just another way to EAT those GREENS! Here's a recipe (more or less) for the festive salad pictured below, full of seasonal flavors:

Orange Spice Spinach Salad (all organic)
for One

Salad mix:
3 cups spinach
1 small apple, chopped
dried cherries and/or cranberries
unsulfured dried apricots, sliced

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt to taste

Mix dressing ingredients together. Combine spinach and chopped apples, and toss with dressing. Arrange in bowl and top with dried fruit and nuts. *Tip: Another good addition would be clementine orange sections.

6. Create... eats and treats with coconut oil! Coconut oil helps to speed up the metabolism and aid in weight loss. You can learn all about the benefits of coconut oil at http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/. Some of the ways I enjoy using it are the following:
  • Fruit Smoothies with the addition of 1-2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil blended in.
  • Coconut oil instead of olive oil on a salad.
  • Steamed sweet potatoes with coconut oil (instead of butter) and sea salt, as a side dish.
  • Steamed broccoli or cauliflower... "        "as a side dish.
  • Organic poporn popped in coconut oil, with sea salt.
  • "Mounds" candy bars from the Nourishing Gourmet or Coconut Bark-Almond Joy at Real Food Living
A good resource for recipes is Eat Fat, Lose Fat: Lose Weight and Feel Great With the Delicious, Science-based Coconut Diet, by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.

7. Stop eating at 6:00... on most occasions.  This simple rule will help to keep you from packing on the pounds. To help conquer cravings... have some herbal tea. Licorice and Peppermint are especially nice this time of year. For something more substantial, try some rooibos tea, which is more full-bodied.

8. Spike your drink... (that is, your water) with apple cider vinegar. This can help curb cravings and also help to break down body fat. Add a couple teaspoons to your water bottle and sip throughout the day. It will help keep your blood sugar level.

9. Don't stress it... Stress messes with your hormones, which can contribute to weight gain. Remember what Christmas is really about

10. Play... that is, exercise! Go play in the snow! Make snow angels, meet friends for an afternoon of ice skating, go cross country skiing, build a snow man, go sledding, try snowshoeing, go for a hike in the woods! Join the kids for some old fashioned fun in the snow. Have FUN!!!

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