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Is It Possible to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays?

Is It Possible to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays?Fat, sugar, and salt dominate many holiday recipes. This can make it seem tough to stay healthy or keep weight off over the holiday season. After all, who would dare change grandma’s famous stuffing? The answer is, you would!

It’s certainly possible to make healthy substitutions, even in classic holiday recipes. Try these holiday recipe hacks to make absolutely delicious (and much more healthy!) holiday meals:

Substitutions are allowed

There are many meals where you can use some sleight of hand and no one will know the difference. Here are several ways you can add nutrition to food and strip out unnecessary health hazards, without sacrificing taste:

Fat: Your baked goods have a lot of fat in the form of butter or shortening binding things together. Instead of using only fatty substances as binders, try healthy foods like unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana. If you’re a dedicated cook, you can also take inspiration from the classic cowboy cake recipe and boil raisins down into a sticky mass and use that as part of your binder. Just remember that fruit adds more than binding ability, it adds moisture to a recipe. So, experiment before you serve your guests.

Sugar: Many healthy options beat out white sugar every time. These include raw honey, dates, stevia, coconut sugar, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, and brown rice syrup.

Another option that is particularly applicable over the holidays is to go a little heavier on the spices and lighter on the sugar. Some extra vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice mixed with a half tablespoon of molasses and only half of the sugar required by the recipe can still make a delicious pie filling. Just add about 1/4th extra spice and see how everything tastes!

Wheat: Many people say that stuffing or the dinner rolls are their favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal. Fortunately, there are many, many options when it comes to flour. You aren’t stuck with wheat. Here are several flours you can try this holiday season: almond, amaranth, barley, bean (mix with sorghum flour to counteract any bitter flavor), rice, buckwheat, chestnut, chia seed, coconut, cornmeal, hemp, lupin, Montina, oat, quinoa, and spelt. Some of the above-listed flours have the added benefit of being gluten free!

Salt: While you probably shouldn’t replace the amount of salt required in a baked recipe, you can usually cut the salt required by many meals by half. And, here’s a trick: add citrus in place of salt. This can make your taste buds think they are enjoying salt when they aren’t.

Rein in the excess

Food surrounds us during the holiday season. Here are a three tips to help you rein in the excess while you are eating or cooking:

  1.  Use smaller plates. Whether you are hosting a party with little treats or a full-fledged dinner, smaller plates will help your friends and family eat smaller portion sizes while still feeling as if they are eating their usual holiday feast.
  1. Pair down the toppings. Instead of smothering foods in toppings like cheese or whipped cream, serve just a dollop. Your guest will get to enjoy the delicious food without just tasting a topping.
  1. Cut thin slices. Pre-cutting thin, even slices of pie or turkey can help keep portions reasonable without anyone feeling as if they are being short changed in the food department.

It can be such a fun challenge to add nutrition to traditionally sugary or unhealthy recipes! Be sure to share your favorite healthy recipes with us on our Facebook page this holiday season – and let us know if you come up with an additional way to add nutrition to a holiday classic.

References:

https://www.craftybaking.com/learn/ingredients/flour-and-grains/non-wheat

How to Wean Yourself Off of Sugar

How to Wean Yourself Off of SugarEating sugar can cause addiction. Scientific studies have proven that consuming sugar activates the same brain receptors as taking addictive drugs. Additionally, sugar consumption leads to craving more sugar, binging on sugary foods, and choosing foods with refined sugar content over natural sugars.

On top of all of this, it’s hard to find premade food that doesn’t have sugar added. The Food and Drug Administration has made the search for food without added sugar easier for purchasers, as they have a new labeling system which requires added sugars be listed explicitly. This new labeling should make it easier for consumers to work out what is in the food that you are eating. But even with this new information, refined and added sugar is hard to avoid.

Watch out for these sugars

When attempting to cut sugar from your diet, be on the lookout for sugar and sugar substitutes. These include:

  • Aspartame-amino sweet
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cyclamate
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Dulcin
  • Ethyl Maltol
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Glucan
  • Kaltame
  • Mannitol
  • Mogrosides
  • Neotame
  • Phenylalanine
  • Raw Sugar
  • Saccharin
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucralose
  • Sucrose
  • Treacle

There are many more names for sugars and artificial sweeteners, so be aware of what you are eating.

Replace refined sugar with natural sugars

While you are trying to wean yourself off of sugar, you may still want to eat something sweet. There are many natural sugars to be found. Fruits like dates and bananas can add sweetness to yogurt or shakes. Maple syrup, raw honey, molasses, and agave are great alternative sweeteners for coffee, cookies, or cereal.

By replacing refined sugars and artificial sweeteners with natural sources, you can help your body get used to lower amounts of sugar and sources of sugar that are simpler to digest.

Find the real cause of your craving

Your body interprets many things as sugar craving. It’s important to know what these are, as you can then resolve the problem instead of giving in to your desire for sugar. If you crave sugar, you may actually need:

Protein

Sources of protein like lean meat, wild fish, raw nuts, black beans, hard boiled eggs and more can balance your blood sugar and reduce sugar craving. Keep high protein snacks to hand when you are combatting sugar withdrawal.

Fiber

Eating fiber can help you stay fuller longer. It can also fight symptoms of candida in your body. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fiber, as are veggies and some fruits. Try chia seeds, flax seeds, avocados, Asian pears, peas, figs, coconut, squash, turnips, beans, lentils and quinoa for fiber.

Water

This may sound too simple, but a little water can go a long way in fighting sugar cravings. Your body interprets dehydration in many ways, including feeling hungry or craving sugar. Sip on some herbal tea, grab a cup of pure water or infuse your water with some lemon, lime, cucumber, grapefruit, or watermelon to spice things up.

Probiotic-rich foods

Sour and probiotic-rich foods can knock out your sugar cravings. Kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and apple cider vinegar are all great additions to your diet. It’s easy to add sour foods to a salad, lean meat, or high-fiber grain. You can garnish a plate of rice or quinoa with kimchi or splash on some vinegar to give it some extra punch.

Fats are your friend

Many of us grew up thinking that fats were all bad, all the time. Recent science has found that this is not true at all. Your body burns fat for energy. When you don’t have healthy fats around to stoke a slow burn, you will crave sugar for a quick pick-me-up. By consuming healthy fats, you make your body more likely to become a fat burner instead of a sugar craver.

Which fat do we recommend most here at Change for the Health of It? Coconut and coconut oil are our favorites. Coconut oil provides healthy fats for you to burn. It’s also an excellent cooking oil. You can find more information on this healthy oil here.

Do you need help weaning yourself off of sugar? We are here for you! Attend our October 13th Class at 7 PM: Sugar Blues. You will learn more about how to get off of sugar and back to health. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm#images

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/22/coconut-oil-and-saturated-fats-can-make-you-healthy.aspx