If the last year-and-a-half taught us anything, it is the value of health and connection. There's a Catalan Proverb that says, "From the bitterness of disease man learns the sweetness of health."
With the holidays in full swing and Christmas right around the corner, the act of taking care of yourself often gets booted to the bottom of the never-ending to-do list. Hunting for the perfect gifts for loved ones, wrapping said gifts, decking all the halls, hosting your annual Ugly Christmas Sweater party...
It's safe to say the holidays can be taxing. Layer that fact on top of more indulging (we meet again, pecan squares) and less opportunities to exercise, and it's no wonder we feel the need to set resolutions come the first of January, vowing to never eat sugar again and finally lose the extra weight.
Instead of waiting for January to practice self-care, here are a some practical tips on balancing your health and happiness during the holidays:
Take the Pressure Off
On average, people only gain a little more than one pound over the holidays — not the 10 pounds many of us think we've gained. Party food is more often higher in sodium, causing water retention/bloat, and richer in fat (stays in the tummy longer), both of which can leave us feeling heavier.
If getting to a healthier weight for your body is currently your goal, focus on eating balanced meals with lean protein, fruits and veggies, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates, saving room for small portions of the holiday foods you truly enjoy.
Eat Regular Meals
Indulge in Moderation
Real life application: Enjoy a cocktail, and then switch to sparkling water or an unsweetened beverage. Pour a cup of afternoon coffee to enjoy with your best friend's famous Christmas cookies, and get in plenty of colorful veggies at dinner time.
Create New Holiday Traditions
- Host a family cooking competition — you'll have a Christmas feast to enjoy after the winner is named!
- Instead of caroling door-to-door, pile into the car for a drive and take in the town's twinkly lights, singing carols at the tops of your lungs
- Practice random acts of kindness
- Get crafty and DIY a new ornament, handmade card, or holiday wreath from clippings
- Leave a hot meal with a hand written note on the door steps of a family you love
- Sit around a bonfire, all bundled up, and share your favorite holiday memories
- Learn a new game together — Our pick? Mexican Train Dominoes!
- Write a 2022 Bucket List
- Designate a weekly movie night where each family member gets to pick a Christmas movie everyone watches together
Create a list of 10 things that destress (ex: paint your nails, play an episode of Fixer Upper, do a guided meditation with the app Headspace), and keep it somewhere visible. When holiday tensions start to escalate, pick something off the list to find neutral again.
So get outside, rake the yard, walk or run a 5k, park at the back of the lot and carry bags of groceries out, or have a family dance-off. Sometimes it is more realistic to get in shorter bursts of activity, but it all adds up!
Wishing you Happy Holidays!
I wish all good things for you and yours this holiday season and into 2022. May you thrive and be intoxicatingly present to every savory moment. And if you get the chance, try serving this Stuffed Acorn Squash at one of your holiday gatherings. It's a crowd pleaser and beautiful on the plate.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups mushrooms, washed and chopped
2 acorn squash
1 16-ounce package turkey sausage
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cut acorn squash in half (lengthwise, from stem to tip of squash), scoop seeds out and discard. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side up, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (you can use a basting brush or fingers to spread across the yellow flesh and skin). Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and roast in oven until tender and golden brown (about 30-40 minutes).
- Meanwhile, over medium heat, drizzle olive oil in sauté pan and add chopped onion, cooking until translucent (2-3 minutes). Add garlic and sage; stir another minute. Add mushrooms to the pan and cook for a few minutes until done; set aside.
- In a separate pan, sauté turkey sausage over medium heat until done; add mushroom/onion mixture to the pan and crack eggs over the top, stirring well until egg is done and has "bound" the stuffing together.
- Top roasted acorn squash halves with stuffing; sprinkle parmesan on top to garnish.