With the holiday season well underway many are already stressing and obsessing over their waistlines. But weight gain over the holidays is not inevitable. Actually, research shows that the average person gains less than 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Years. Yes, you heard that right—all the sweets and buffet binges amount to only a single pound.
But while many are sweating calories and shaming themselves over sweets, there’s a whole other issue many of us are ignoring. Your sweet tooth comes at the expense of disease-preventing, nutrient-packed fruit and vegetables.
When you think of your favourite holiday food, it probably isn’t the brussels sprouts. But that’s part of the problem – low fibre treats, large portions of rich foods and holiday stress can all wreak havoc on your digestive health. But meals high in fibre can help to combat that. Plus, when you pack your meals and snacks with low calorie, high fibre fruits and veggies, you naturally feel more full and have less room for high-calorie foods.
Don’t worry: I’m not going to tell you to swap your sugar cookies for salad and your candy canes for carrot sticks (although that would be pretty good advice). Instead, I present to you these handy tips to sneak extra fruit and vegetables into your holiday menu.
1) Brocc around the Christmas Tree
This edible centrepiece from Food.com is as fun to make as it is to eat. Broccoli is low in calories, rich in vitamins and minerals and loaded with filling fibre. If that’s not enough, one cup of cooked broccoli packs in as much immune-boosting vitamin C as an orange!
2) Have a Holly Jolly Quinoa
This easy-to make salad from Nestle is bursting with the seasonal flavours of mint, cranberry and apple and is great for holiday potlucks or everyday lunches. It includes a healthy dose of whole grains, plant-based protein and tangy fruits and veggies, and is sure to keep energy levels up on even the most hectic days.
3) Oh, Holy Guac
Although not a traditional Christmas food, no holiday party is complete without guacamole! Avocados are full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Max the festive colours (and healthy fibre) by adding diced tomatoes, juicy green pears or diced bell peppers.
4) All I Want for Christmas is ‘Nog
Love the eggnog but hate the glass of guilt that comes with it? This healthy Eggnog Smoothie from wellplated.com is nutritious enough for breakfast, but delicious enough to spike. I use fortified soy beverage instead of cashew milk for extra protein and nutrients, swap the dates for a tablespoon of maple syrup, skip the whip and only add the yogurt when I’m having it for breakfast or a hearty snack.
5) Frosty the Dough-Man
Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s even better when it’s shaped like an adorable snowman. Load up the veggies and then top it off with white mushrooms and mozzarella before baking. You’ll be surprised how many veggies a thin layer of mozzarella can hide. One warning though: it’s almost too cute to eat!
Have a Healthy Holiday
Holiday food doesn’t need to be loaded with sugar and fat to be festive. And although one pound may seem trivial, holiday weight gain can be the gift that keeps on giving. Whether we like it or not, that one pound usually sticks around and, before you know it, a decade later, we’re ten pounds heavier.
So give yourself the gift of good health and make fruit and vegetables a priority 365 days a year.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season full of love, laughter and lots of good food!