Some of the most common things I hear just after the holidays are over are all the comments about how much weight everybody gained from all the good food. I’m not a proponent for obsessing over food. I don’t pig out and I don’t starve myself. If I want a piece of chocolate cheesecake, I eat it and I enjoy it. No guilt.
One of the ways I am able to thoroughly enjoy my food without worrying over my waistline is by trying to have an 80/20 or 90/10 rule. That means that 80-90% of what I eat is nutrient-dense and completely guilt-free. The other 10-20% is allowed to be more indulgent (still no guilt!!). If I know that most of my food is healthy, I am able to give myself a little grace with the rest.
The best way to have delicious and healthy holiday foods is to make them yourself from real food (as opposed to processed food)! If you don’t cook much, check out some real food blogs (like mine!) for recipes. If you have favorite holiday foods that are less than healthy, check out these ideas for swapping out the bad ingredients for good ones!
- Healthy Fats: This is where people make the biggest mistakes, especially during the holidays. They believe that if they eat low-fat, unsaturated fat or even man-made fat (margarine), then they can get away with eating more. Not true! What we need to do is switch to healthy fats, such as butter, coconut oil, cream, lard and tallow. Think that’s crazy?? Kate has done an excellent post explaining why we need these vital fats and why this type of fat won’t make you fat!
- Unprocessed Sweeteners: I know that the biggest craving for most of us during the holidays is the sweet stuff! Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to avoid all sugars. The first thing to do is to ditch all those fake sweeteners (except all-natural stevia, if you like it) and everything containing high fructose corn syrup. Then, use all the plain ol’ white sugar to make sugar scrubs for Christmas gifts, because you won’t be eating it!!! Buy some raw, local honey, grade B maple syrup and rapadura/sucanat. These sweeteners have minerals to help you process the sugar and they have a much better flavor than the artificial sweeteners. Want to know more? Check out Kate’s post about sweeteners!
- Herbs and Spices: The third big downfall I see during the holidays is the use of artificial flavorings. Artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and “flavor enhancers” are often dangerous, not to mention a sad replacement for the real thing! Instead of “seasoning packets,” marinades and sauces that are cram-packed full of artificial ingredients, learn to use herbs and spice! Did you know that many people have adverse reactions to all this artificial junk? Some of them even cause weight gain!
- Unrefined Salt: Regular table salt has been stripped of everything except sodium chloride, which causes us to retain water! If you’re wanting to fit into your special holiday clothes, this is less than helpful. Around my house, we consider unrefined Celtic sea salt to be a health food! This is such a simple switch that makes a huge health difference.
So, what will this look like when it comes to your favorite recipes? Here are some examples of refined foods gone real!
Chocolate Chip Cookies: These are something that we make every year and I knew I needed to re-create. Turns out that we like them even more with the healthier ingredients! Try out these kinds of swaps in your favorite holiday cookie recipe.
- Freshly ground whole wheat instead of white flour.
- Half butter, half coconut oil instead of “Smart Balance.”
- Rapadura instead of white sugar.
- Dark chocolate chips instead of regular.
- Eggs from a local farm instead of from the store.
- Celtic sea salt instead of processed salt.
Sour Cream Dips: I used to buy sour cream and seasoning packets to make sour cream dip. I’m not sure I could even eat that, now! Bleck! Now, we make our own sour cream and mix it with a variety of things to make delicious dips!
Turkey: Rather than buying turkeys injected with mixtures of refined salt and other stuff, we use a butter and herb mixture under the skin. Juicy and flavorful!
Chocolate: I don’t know about you, but I just love all things chocolate during the holidays! Instead of buying pre-made candy and coffee shop coffee, I’ve learned that I can satisfy my chocolate cravings with much healthier treats! One that I like to keep on hand is our Chewy Chocolate Coconut Balls. The other is my all-natural homemade Mocha!
I hope that our healthy switches help to get your creative juices flowing! If you want to learn more about easy switches and baby steps to eating healthier food, check out this post.