As a Bachelor of Science Health Sciences major from Furman University, I am a HUGE believer and supporter of not just eating healthy, but also helping and encouraging other people to eat healthy. You might not know it based on the recipes I post, but Craig and I are both incredibly health-conscious people. Yeah, some of my recipes aren’t great for you, but that’s okay if you are eating them in moderation. Moderation is a key word here that is often ignored or abused, so let me explain what I mean.
- Moderation does not just mean “Well, I would really like to have four or five apple pie muffins, so I’ll just have three right now. Wow, I’m making such a health-conscious choice! Plus, there are pieces of apple in the recipe, so it’s actually a healthy food.” Eating in moderation starts with being honest with myself about what I am eating and refusing to justify all bad eating decisions. I am not going to pretend that I don’t make bad eating decisions, because I definitely do, but certainly will not justify them so that I can feel better about myself.
- Eating in moderation also means that all metabolisms are not created equal. Craig has a faster metabolism than I have. That’s just the way it is. I’m not going to sit around, complaining about his faster metabolism and decide that I should get to eat just as much as him because it’s not really fair that he gets to eat more than me. I’m also not going to expect him to consume fewer calories because I have to consume less. No! To me, that just sounds like I am wishing for metabolism welfare, and this concept is absolutely ridiculous. I am going to do the best I can with what I have been given, and I refuse to be bitter toward people who can and have to eat more calories than me in order to maintain a healthy body weight. I always serve Craig more food than I serve myself because he needs more calories. It is what it is.
- I’m not saying that people can’t enjoy something that doesn’t have a ton of nutritional value every now and then. I am certainly not saying we all need to eliminate desserts. I support desserts. I love desserts. But I cannot sit down and eat half a bundt cake of any sort. I need to teach myself that a taste or two is really all I need. (And when – not if, definitely when – I do make the mistake of over-eating some dessert, I will revert to my first point by not justifying it. I will accept my decision for what it is, and try to work out and consume my remaining available calories accordingly.)
- Also, I NEED to be physically active. There is no way around it. Eating healthy AND exercising regularly are both part of having a healthy lifestyle. You should not just have one or the other. Eating well without pushing your body is unfair to your cardiovascular system (among other things). Exercising while fueling your body with few nutrients is going to lead to deficiencies, like iron deficiency (among other things).
It is no coincidence that National Healthy Eating Day falls just before the holiday season. We all know that the holiday season is not the easiest time to eat lower-calorie foods abundant in vital nutrients, and it’s not the easiest time to squeeze that exercise in every day. The holiday season is a period of time where people tend to over-consume calories, under-consume nutrients, and put legitimate workouts on hold. But we can fight back!
In honor of National Eating Healthy Day, here is a link to the American Heart Association’s Holiday Health Eating Guide. It has some great ideas and may be very helpful to you this holiday season!
Also, here are some tips about healthy holiday eating from the Medical University of South Carolina’s MUSChealth Community Blog:
Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating
- Look for healthy substitutes for ingredients in your holiday dishes. Use low-fat or skim milk products instead of whole milk products, or try swapping applesauce for oil in your baked goods.
- Avoid grazing while cooking. The small bites we sometimes take while working in the kitchen can add up and stack on extra calories.
- Do not skip meals. Missing meals, especially breakfast, can lead to overeating for the remainder of the day.
- Snack before you arrive at a party. You are more likely to overeat if you are hungry when you arrive at a holiday gathering.
- Prepare a healthy dish. Bringing a tossed salad, vegetable plate or fruit dish to a holiday party will ensure that there is a healthy option for you and your friends.
- Use a smaller plate. This allows you to put less food on the plate and to keep portion sizes within healthy limits.
- Eat slowly. Savor each bite as you eat and wait several minutes before considering a second helping.
- Alternate drinking alcoholic beverages with water. Not only will you reduce the number of calories that you consume, you’ll also have a safer night.
- Mingle. Don’t stand near the food table all night where you may be tempted to go back for seconds.
- Get physical. After eating, consider taking a walk with friends or family members or join young people in a game or other activity.
- Practice saying “no” gracefully. Be prepared with practiced answers if you have “food pushers” in your circle of family and friends. Be honest and say “No thanks, I’m trying to cut back.” Or sometimes a little white lie will do the trick when you say “I’m so full, I couldn’t eat another bite.”
Please don’t view this post as a big Debbie-Downer on delicious foods or the holiday season, because that is not how it is meant. I understand the constant battle with the scale. I struggle with eating healthy foods and moderating the deliciously unhealthy foods. I have a slow metabolism, and I actually have had to watch what I ate since I was twelve. I have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. However, through all that, I have learned that eating healthy is not a bad thing at all. It’s a wonderful thing!
By practicing wise food decisions throughout the day, making a point to stay or become physically active, and eating in moderation, you can enjoy those scrumptious holiday foods as much as anyone else! Plus, how much more could you enjoy your holiday season if you were feeling great and full of energy throughout it, plus you didn’t have the post-season-bathroom-scale regret that so many people have to face afterward?!
So kick your holiday season off right with making a plan to be [as] healthy [as possible] throughout!