It’s not easy eating clean – especially around the holidays. It seems that everywhere we look at holiday time there’s food temptations staring us in the face – candy bowls filled to the brim in offices and lobbies, boxes of chocolates from our neighbors, sugary eggnog on tap at holiday parties, and of course, beautifully-decorated gingerbread cookies and brightly-colored candy canes dangling on Christmas trees around us. And, we want healthy eating to be a priority!
Stay Strong for Healthy Eating
It is, indeed, the season of giving, and that generosity often takes the form of holiday treats loaded with sugar, dairy and fat as well as artificial preservatives, additives, and colorings.
It’s only natural to want to feel part of the festivities. No one likes feeling left out or deprived, especially at this time of year. So how do we do enjoy the holiday season in a way that meets our needs for participation and celebration while maintaining our hard-won healthy-eating habits, whether we’re long-time whole food vegan or new to this lifestyle?
5 Tips for Eating Healthy this Season
While everyone will ultimately have to find what works for them, here are 5 helpful tips for eating clean at holiday time to get you started:
1. Share the love. Just because someone gives you a food gift, whether it’s freshly-baked Christmas cookies or that box of holiday chocolates, doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Politely say “thank you” and express your appreciation and then put the gift away. There’s absolutely no need to open the present in front of the person who gave it to you. Pass the gift on to an individual or family who would appreciate it, or share it for everyone to enjoy in your workplace cafeteria or at a neighborhood gathering. Consider it “random kindness” to others and, most especially, to yourself.
2. Contribute a healthier option. Contribute a healthier plant-based vegan option to the holiday offerings around you. For instance, bring in a bowl of roasted nuts or dried fruits to place next to the candy bowl at work, or bring an appetizer like this Basil Spinach Dip or Pumpkin Hummus to your family gathering. This way you’re providing not just for yourself but you’re also sharing healthier vegan foods with family, friends, and colleagues – and who knows what might happen!
3. Choose the healthiest available option. We’ve all heard about “just saying no,” but the truth remains that it can be hard to do just that. What’s typically easier for most of us is to replace an unhealthy choice with a healthier one. What you want to do here is minimize the damage to your existing routine.
Resist the temptation to just grab whatever food happens to be closest to you, or what the folks around you are eating. Instead, carefully scan all available options looking for healthier choices. Choose carrot sticks over crackers, and crackers over cookies and candy. Do the best you can under the circumstances.
4. Stay well-nourished and hydrated. Have you ever heard the adage about not going grocery shopping when you’re hungry? When we’re run down, hungry and/or thirsty, we’re more likely to binge shop as well as binge eat.
Make sure to keep your blood sugar balanced during the holiday season and drink enough liquids. Especially before holiday events, like Tara in “Gone with the Wind,” consider arriving with a full stomach.
5. Improvement, not perfection. If you eat something that you regret indulging in, that’s cause for reflection, not beating yourself up. Make it a learning experience by surveying the situation and seeing what you could do differently next time. Realize that the temptations are great this time of year and no one has perfect willpower. Whatever you do, beware of using one episode as an excuse to throw your entire whole foods vegan diet out the window.
Remember, the holidays are just temporary. Do the best you can, and be sure to enjoy it all. And, be sure to check out these holiday recipes ideas for inspiration.