Deck the Halls With Moderation

Deck-the-Halls-with-ModerationIt’s the time of year when healthy becomes a dirty swear word. It is the one word you can’t say without getting thrown out into the snowy street.

The season is decked with sugar cookies, eggnog, fudge and pies.

Even if you’re not baking them yourself, they will still find you. They will be on your porch. They will be piled high at work. They will be at school parties. They will be at community events. They will also be on sale right next to the cash register with pretty sprinkles.

I love sweet treats. But I am also working like crazy to avoid chronic illness like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

I researched the phenomenon of holiday weight gain and learned that the majority of Americans gain weight over the holidays. And it’s a gift that we can’t return, according to the New England Journal of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health’s Nutrition Review.

In other words, we gain weight and we never lose it. It’s tough to remember my long-term goals when a big platter of fudge is staring at me.

While you’re thinking about that platter of fudge, go ahead and read my tips for enjoying the season’s sweets with a sprinkle of moderation:

1. Apply the Shrink Ray — Portion sizes have ballooned over the years. What’s worse is that we typically eat the portion we’re served, regardless of if we’re given a mammoth-sized piece or a reasonable serving. Make Grandma Betty’s Fudge recipe, but cut the pieces into small dainty bites.

2. Focus Less on Food — If your family or community group has traditions that revolve solely around sitting and eating food, well, it’s time to introduce a new non-food tradition. Try bowling in Santa Hats, sledding with friends, or making cards for a nursing home.

3. DIY — Slow down and learn to make a pumpkin pie with your very own stove. Crazy, I know. You will save on calories and boost the flavor. Grab a few kids or grandkids and make it a memory. Ask around to find recipes from cute wrinkly people who lived when it was normal to make everything from scratch.

4. Define Dessert Desserts are special. They should be shared and savored. Wait to put them out until the end of the meal. Get out fancy little plates and forks. Make it memorable, instead of scarfing it down like a wolf man.

5. Make Baking Boundaries If you love to bake all season, don’t keep it all on your counters. You’ll keep eating little bits throughout the day until it’s just a pile of crumbs. I have some experience with this. Make a batch and give half of it away. Most baked goods also freeze well. Store single servings tightly wrapped in your freezer.

6. Get Creative We all know that fudge will grace our doorsteps. So, I double dare you to try something a little lighter and more creative for your holiday giving. I’ve had friends give me kale, oranges and spiced nuts.

I promise your quality of life and memories of holiday fun will not diminish as you exercise a bit of moderation.

In fact, your quality of life will soar because you won’t be on the couch in a pie-induced coma. You will be out playing football or on a walk with your neighbors chatting about Black Friday sales.

Happy healthy holidays to you and yours.

This is an excerpt from my article in the Fort Morgan Times. Wanna read all of it? Head on over.