his time of year, magazines, newspapers and the internet are filled with articles containing tips on how to get through the holidays without gaining weight. What to eat at holiday parties, what not to eat, and just how to deal with all that delicious food that seems to be everywhere you turn. It’s a very popular topic, and right up there with finding the perfect gift for your sister/best-friend/boss and managing the annual trip to your in-laws. I used to spend time reading my fair share of some of those articles, and there are some ideas I’ve adopted that work for me. (Drinking a large glass of water really does fill you up……) I don’t spend much time being concerned about weight gain through the holidays anymore, though, and here’s why: the way I ate before the holidays is the way I eat during the holidays, and the way I’ll eat after the holidays. It’s not a temporary condition, it’s how I live. And how I live, for the most part, is by eating healthy food that I enjoy and that is good for me. and delicious, too. The holidays will come, and the holidays will go, but I’ve learned over time that I need to eat healthy nutritious foods and exercise, and that doesn’t change. It’s a lifestyle.
It took time and some trial and error to get to this place, but over the years I have found a way of eating that works for me. My weight has rarely deviated more than a few pounds over the last 25 years or so, other than when I was pregnant with my son. I don’t skip meals and I have a snack if I need to. I feel good, and have a lot of energy. I don’t worry about going to parties and what I will eat because I have a plan. It’s a simple plan, and flexible enough so that I don’t worry about going to a restaurant or a party and being able to eat what is served. I’m not in any way talking about a diet. A diet for most people is something they go on to lose weight, and then go off once their goal is reached. There’s a $30 billion dollar industry built around weight loss and dieting in this country. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people, the weight comes back unless permanent changes in how they eat are made. That’s where lifestyle comes in. Exercise has to be part of the equation, too (but that’s another post.)
A change in lifestyle is not something that happens overnight. It requires commitment, focus and discipline to make these kinds of changes, especially in the beginning. But it gets easier over time and the rewards impact every area of our lives for the better. It took me years to learn a simple truth: when I eat nutritious, delicious and fresh foods, making sure my body is getting the right fuel, and exercise regularly, my weight takes care of itself. I’ve also learned that if I blow it occasionally and have that extra slice of pizza, it’s not the end of the world because I just go right back to what I know works for me.
I’ll be talking a lot more about this in the future but for now here’s something to think about. Do you have a healthy eating plan? A healthy eating plan gives your body the right nutrition while staying within your daily calorie goal to maintain or lose weight. A healthy eating plan also will give your body the fuel it needs for optimum energy and well-being throughout the day. For most people, a healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Fish, poultry and lean meats (in moderation) beans, eggs, and nuts are good sources of protein. Fresh foods, as close to their natural state as possbile, are emphasized. It’s important to limit foods containing saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. And there are so many ways to enjoy healthy foods these days, I have to add that it’s important that we enjoy our meals. (I’ll be posting more healthy and delicious recipes here in the future!)
This is a time of year when lots of us bring out our favorite recipes and get to baking – cookies, pies and breads. A wonderful thing to do is to bake a favorite treat to take to friends, neighbors or the office group. Most everyone appreciates a gift of home-baked goodness, and it’s a thoughtful way to remember someone during the holiday season. With the abundance of rich baked goods around at this time of year, I think it’s great to bake something that’s not only delicious but healthy as well.
I love the aroma of bread baking. This bread smells wonderful as it bakes and is filled with health benefits from protein and whole-grain carbohydrates. Try it and let me know what you think!
Whole Wheat Loaf
2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt or salt substitute
Pinch of cinnamon
Sift above ingredients together into a bowl and add:
1/2 cup molasses or raw honey
1/4 cup unsaturated oil
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or cashews
1 T. grated orange rind
Stir everything together. Pour into a loaf pan and let stand for 20 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.
I live in the Rocky Mountains just outside of Denver, Colorado, high up at 8,500 feet – a beautiful spot surrounded by tall trees and the mountains. Today is one of those winter days – and it’s not even winter yet. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care about the date on the calendar where I live, so you can just about expect anything this time of year. On days like this, I often find myself thinking of a nice, hot bowl of soup for lunch or dinnner. A hearty soup, maybe a salad, and warm, whole-grain bread is an easy, healthy – and tasty – meal. Plus, it’s relatively easy to put together and something my family enjoys, too, and I always like that.
I love making soup this time of year. A hot bowl of soup can be not only delicious and comforting, but also provide a nutritious boost, depending on what you throw into the pot. I like that the combination of ingredients provides endless possibilities. The addition of protein from lean turkey, chicken, or beans makes a satisfying meal. Homemade soups can include whatever vegetables you and your family love. Make sure the ingredients are fresh, low-fat and the soup is prepared with a minimum of salt. Here is one of my favorites:
Tofu Vegetable Soup
- 2 quarts water
- 2 vegetable broth cubes
- 4 stalks of celery, sliced
- 4 large carrots, sliced or diced
- 1-2 leeks, rinsed and sliced (remove the dark green part)
- 1/2 bunch of chopped, fresh parsley
- 1/2 bunch fresh dill
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 1-1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1-1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 8 ounces uncooked whole grain pasta (such as linquini)
- 1 pound tofu, diced
In a large soup pot, bring the water and broth cubes to a boil. Add celery and carrots and boil for 10 minutes. Add the leek, parsley, dill, salt, pepper, garlic, and pasta, and simmer until pasta is al dente. Add the tofu, heat through, and adjust seasonings if needed.
I love this soup. It doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare and provides a healthy serving of both protein (from the tofu, an excellent alternative to meat) and vegetables. It’s low in fat yet delicious and filling. Try it and let me know what you think!