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A different spin on holiday meals

We have all heard the nutritional advice (and I have certainly dispensed it myself), that we should avoid overindulgence during the holiday season. However, this year, I would like to place a different spin on holiday meals. Yes, I agree that we do not want to sabotage the hard work we put into our healthy dietary plans by consuming all of the holiday goodies from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. However, it is also important to honor and enjoy the rituals and traditions of our holiday gatherings and the meals that we share with one another.

Sharing food is one of the fundamental aspects of spending time with our family, friends and co-workers. There is something unique about sitting down to a home-prepared feast and experiencing the holiday season together. So, while I still agree that consumption should be reasonable, on those very special occasions, let go of the daily structure, enjoy a holiday meal and take in the beauty of this special time together.

This process enables us to then get back in the saddle again with ease as we will be ready to jump into our routine again after this short, but very unique time. As we enter this holiday season as a community, consider the following different “spins” on holiday gatherings and meals and enjoy!

• Savor every bite of every serving of each meal. When you slow down and “taste” each different course, you may consume less and enjoy more.

• Choose those courses that specifically celebrate this time of year. If you only choose the foods which are unique to your traditions, your mind and body may more fully experience the celebratory foods leading to a greater sense of well-being.

• Create a new, healthier spin on a standard holiday recipe. Prior to presenting your creation to the extended family at the holiday meal, try it out on your immediate family ahead of time and have them critique the dish. If it is a winner, it may become a new standard at the holiday table.

• Get the entire family involved in meal preparation! It is fun and efficient!

• If the stress of having your holiday meal on “the” day is too taxing, consider having the meal on a different day, when the entire group is more able to enjoy it. Long ago, in our family, we began to have our Thanksgiving Day meal on the Wednesday before or Friday following so that we had the entire day of Thanksgiving to relax and spend the holiday together.

• Be prepared to give away leftovers to guests and to freeze what you are not intending to eat in the next day or two.

• Of course, giving to those in need not only has a significant impact on those individuals but it enhances all of our lives. There are so many in need throughout the year, but this time of year the need seems to escalate. Consequently, choose a charity or a family in need and either invite them to join you at your holiday table if this works for your family or bring them a meal via your church or other charitable organization that offers meals to those less fortunate.

As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

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