I know it’s so tempting during this time of the year to eat every wonderfully delectable thing set before us. Eating a lot comes with the Christmas season, and it’s common think, “I will give myself a break and diet when the New Year begins.”
Well, this is the sort of mindset that gets us into trouble. It’s not worth it to load our bodies with bad calories that will make our fat cells happy but get us depressed when we try to fit back into our jeans when the New Year comes around. Plus, unhealthy binging makes us vulnerable to getting sick, too.
So how do we strive to achieve a balance? After all, we can’t go to Christmas gatherings and be party-poopers about the food when family and friends have thoughtfully prepared the spread for us to enjoy. At the same time, we need to be more conscious and exercise a greater amount of self control to make it through all the festivities without compromising our health or our kids’.
For example, I used to eat a generous slice of cake anytime it was served to me at parties, but as I got older and came to terms with how horrible sugar is for my body, I had to curb this habit. I would ask for sliver of a cake instead of a huge slice and then share that portion with Edric, who was of the same mind to avoid eating the whole thing by himself. This way I got to enjoy a little bit of sugar without suffering from the guilt afterwards.
One of the wisest perspectives on eating I have ever learned was from my grandfather who lived to be 96. His health philosophy boiled down to this: everything in moderation. Don’t overeat, don’t under-eat, don’t neglect exercise, and don’t harbor bitterness, anger or worry. My grandfather passed away a happy, contended man, by God’s grace. I would like to think his ability to exercise self-control without being legalistic had something to do with this.
So how do we enjoy Christmas food this season WISELY?
Eat and drink smart:
1. Never skip a hearty breakfast. When I don’t eat breakfast, I tend to eat bigger lunches and dinners when parties usually happen. Breakfast also regulates metabolism so it’s important to stick to the habit of eating a good breakfast so you and I, and our kids, aren’t starving when it’s time for that Christmas buffet. Plus it’s easiest to burn the breakfast calories. If you are rushing out the door in the mornings, grab a banana and put some peanut butter on it. Then pack some almonds or granola to munch on in the car.
2. Load up on veggies and fruit to quell the craving for sweets. I praise God that my kids like carrot sticks, apples, and oranges. Even Catalina has been brainwashed to like carrots. Yey! When their tummies are full of the good stuff, they don’t look for the bad stuff. As for me, I make my Nutribullet drinks made up of fruits and veggies. (I need a transformer to run it because I bought it from the US and it’s a 110 volts appliance.)
3. To flush out all those heavy meals, eat prunes and brown rice…and other colon-cleansing foods. Our younger kids don’t always like brown rice so we mix white rice into it so it’s softer. But, they still benefit from the fiber from brown rice. As for prunes, these are a sure-fire way to flush out the intestines. They work for me! Try eating six to eight prunes for a snack and you will see what I mean.
4. Take bite-sized portions of desserts at parties and don’t keep sweets in the refrigerator or pantry. The more sugar you and I eat, the more addicted we get to it. It is actually as addicting as cocaine! (This is according to my doctor sister, Carolyn.) And if it’s accessible, we are vulnerable to sneaking up to the fridge or pantry to indulge ourselves. In our family, we give away the sweets we receive. We don’t recycle them as gifts; we simply pass them on after tasting them by bringing them to other gatherings to share or we let our household help, driver and their friends and family enjoy them. It’s called spreading the calories across more people.
5. Drink lots of water and avoid sugary juices or pop. Instead of ordering a soda or juice at a resto, ask for water. It’s cheaper and better for you and me. As for our kids, they need to drink milk twice a day on top of their diet. I started using a brand called Friso lately after I discovered that it’s prescribed by pediatricians for kids who easily get constipated or suffer from upset stomachs.
1. I let my kids take Manuka Honey for their immunity and to fight off colds, but it also allows them to satisfy their desire for something sweet in a healthy way.
2. Don’t neglect the vitamins. For example, Vitamin C. My four older kids have gotten used to taking non-acidic vitamin C pills. They taught themselves to swallow these as a challenge and now it’s a habit. Doctor-sister, Carolyn, also says to take multivitamins, probiotics, and fish oil regularly. (For one of my future articles I am going to pick her brain about functional medicine so I can share her insights here.)
3. Avoid being out too many late nights in a week, which means that you and I have to strategically select which parties are worth attending. My kids (as well as Edric and I), tend to get sick when we don’t stick to our regular routine for bedtime. So we have to say no to certain events or request that these occasions start earlier in the evening if possible. And at times, we have to check out early and excuse ourselves in favor of a good night’s sleep.
4. Go outdoors to exercise when there’s good sunlight. December weather is getting so nice for family walks, runs or biking sessions. The trick is to engage in these activities as a family so that the kids are excited about exercise. Our kids are more motivated to exercise when it’s a shared activity.
There’s no need to panic about holiday eating for as long as we practice moderation for high-calorie foods and apply the tips above. Eating great food is a wonderful tradition during Christmas. But, since we live in the Philippines and the social activities go on and on during this time of the year, we also need to apply self-control. Enjoy but don’t over-indulge. If we do this, we will get to have our cake and eat it, too, (for as long as we don’t eat the whole cake!)