Health and Cooking

Healthiness During the Holidays

If you’re like me, you love the holidays. If you’re also like me (and maybe you’re not), you get inundated by a plethora of suggestions on how to make the holidays healthier. Eat green beans instead of green bean casserole; substitute yogurt for sour cream; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.


Compounding this advice is the external (and internal) stressors of “the holidays” (the Big Four–Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years–although one may argue that Christmas starts earlier every year, making is a threesome; there is also Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, the Asian New Year celebration, and, I’m sure, plenty of others that I have forgotten). With the comings and goings, the piles of food that has to be perfect (it is the holidays, after all), the decorations, the shopping (the advertisements that begin hounding you in September!), the candy (stocked in July), the family quibbles, the nosy neighbors, and the unpleasant airlines, and you’ve got a cauldron brimming with a brew for madness. Little wonder the turkey got sick of it!


Sound familiar? (Posted on Facebook.)


In fact, if you’re like me (again, maybe you’re not), you’re begging the turkey to stand on its fat legs and block the Man in the Red Suit from sleighing into sight on the heels of Halloween. You’re not there yet. You need time to get the candy eaten, the holiday shopping lists sorted, and the guests into a place to stay (or find one for yourself).


It’s enough to drive you to pulling out your hair.


So, why add one more thing to the holidays? Why add healthiness to the list? How about a different version of healthiness! My solution to making your life just a little less hectic during the holidays: enjoy them. Simple. Sweet. To the point.


Stop worrying about the recipe ingredients. (If you have a longstanding healthy recipe, great! Use it.) Stop fretting over time missed at the gym because you had to travel to Grandma’s house. (Again, have time set aside for an early morning run? Super!) Stop clouding your thoughts with worries of weight gain because, believe it or not, stress is a major factor in weight gain–and stressful are the holidays.


Instead, do the simple things. Eat a little less of your favorite dishes. (Did you know that pumpkin is super healthy for you, low in fat, and very low in the calorie count? Just watch out for the whipped cream.) Help out with chores or offer to help cook the special meal. (Daily activity burns calories!) Enjoy those people you gather together with, and laugh a whole lot more. Laughter is one of the best medicines. It brings people together, and heals the body and the soul. Take the time out and go to church. Who cares if the house isn’t spotless. Take the time for yourself this year, and breathe.


Whatever holidays you choose to celebrate, I guarantee you they are not about perfection–the turkey (or ham), the gifts, the image you put forth. These are symbols of what our holiday celebrations stand for. The holidays are about family, gratitude, and the celebration of what life has brought you thus far–the plenteous bounty of the harvest, another year, another chance for living.


Live, laugh, and love, but whatever you do this holiday season, stop fretting about the whole fat milk that goes into the mashed potatoes! Your guests (and the turkey) will be grateful for your hard efforts and/or presence at the gathering. They will be grateful for you. If that is not love (and less stress), I don’t know what is.


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