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Tips and Tricks for Holiday Eating

By on November 15, 2017

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s the time of year when many people find themselves challenged by a number of things, from family to finances, and beyond. Staying healthy and eating well during the holidays is a demand that many of us face: is it really possible to enjoy that slice of pie without paying for it later?

Two of the biggest challenges people face around this time of year are keeping their sugar consumption under control and dealing with friends & family who are not supportive of their efforts to eat mindfully. We all have that relative who thinks we are wasting away to nothing and need approximately 18 more slices of pie to make up for it. But, what are some good ways to cope with these issues? Bad Kitty sat down with nutritionist-pole-dancer Ellen Lovelace to get her thoughts and advice on staying healthy through the holidays.

Ellen Lovelace of A Balanced Table

Ellen Lovelace of A Balanced Table

One of Ellen’s top tips is to make sure to always bring something healthy to any holiday gathering. In her words, “I don’t ask, ‘What do you need me to bring?’ I say, ‘I will bring __________ (insert your healthy food choice).’ Usually what they ask me to bring is something I don’t eat. I chose to bring something I do eat…I also make it a point to bring a dessert I can eat, because I’m both gluten- and dairy-free. I make something that is low in sugar, rich in satisfying fats, and preferably chocolate.” Some great suggestions for items to bring to a gathering include shrimp cocktail, fresh veggies, hummus, guacamole, and sparkling water; other good options can be healthier variations on traditional sides, like baked sweet potato “fries” or sautéed green beans, instead of mashed potatoes, candied yams, or green bean casseroles.

You can also make your holiday meals healthier by making good choices while shopping – like opting for organic meats and vegetables – or swapping out standard recipes for options that are gluten-free, lower in sugar, vegetarian/vegan, and more. If you’re an ambitious baker, you can swap out traditional flour for gluten free flour, like this GF Multi-Purpose Flour from King Arthur – this, plus a little xanthan gum to help hold your mix together, and you’ll have a healthier dessert on your hands! Interested in more ideas? We’ve included some of Ellen’s favorite recipes at the end of this piece.

via GIPHY

Ideas for better food options and recipes are great, but what if your friends and family stink at supporting you in your holiday eating goals? Ellen says it’s a common problem: “Man, do I hear this all the time. It seems like the minute we step into our family’s home, we are a 12 year old kid again, and our ability to express our needs and wants in a mature fashion just disappears! People really worry about how they will continue their clean or condition-specific eating over the holidays, while home visiting family. The thing is, everyone here is an adult. You have free will. A voice. A wallet. And a driver’s license. If you speak up and state what you need, but your family isn’t willing to accommodate your needs, go to the store and make your own food. Roast yourself the perfect chicken. Broil some lobster tails. Sauté some asparagus with lemon and garlic. Make a low sugar dessert. If breakfast is always pancakes, hard boil some eggs and cook some bacon ahead of time, and add in some leftover veggies from the big dinner. I promise you, you will feel much better, and your family will likely be asking for bites of your yummy food! And, when you’re confronted by a sugar pusher–you know the ones that insist you take their offering—if you just want to avoid a scene, take it and throw it away later.”

Getty Images

Photo by – Getty Images

In the event that you tried to be good, but you still indulged too much, don’t fret! There are some things you can do to help yourself feel better. Keeping well-hydrated is key! Be sure to drink lots of water. Not only will it help you flush out what you’ve eaten, but it will reduce bloating. Aim for about half of your body weight, in ounces, i.e. 120lbs = 60 ounces of water per day. Imbibed too much spiked eggnog? Alcohol increases dehydration, so be sure to keep hydrated. Coconut water before bed, and the following morning, can help replenish electrolytes; eating eggs with yolks and drinking bone broth or homemade chicken soup can also help you recover faster. Avoid Tylenol or Advil to reduce additional stress on your liver; if you like coffee, it can help with headaches! Ellen also recommends that you schedule some time to work out: “I make sure to get in a gym workout on the day of a party, and if that doesn’t happen, I definitely do it the following day. Getting your sweat on is a great way to clean out a lot of the toxins if you’ve been eating junk!”

BK Brand Director Mina Mechanic

What about an upset tummy? Ellen recommends the following: “Gastritis is the fancy term for an upset stomach, with symptoms such as pain, nausea, burning, belching, and heartburn. One of the best cures for gastritis is a supplement called DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). DGL acts as a demulcent, which means it coats and soothes the lining of the stomach. A couple of tablets chewed up can really bring relief. DGL is widely available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and other natural foods markets.”

How do you set yourself up for success? The best defense is a good offense! What does this mean? “Meaning, front-load your day with good protein and lots of healthy fats. One of the best ways to gird yourself is to start your day with a healthy, filling breakfast. Start there, and see if you’re not inspired to make better choices later in the day. Focus on getting lots of protein and fats: eggs, healthy meats, cheese, plain whole fat yogurt, berries, sautéed plantains with coconut oil, green veggie-loaded omelets. Making sure your breakfast and lunch include things like eggs, butter, avocado, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and grass-fed organic meats will actually help you fight cravings and keep your sugar intake under control. In my efforts to keep eating clean, I find recipes that are gluten- and dairy-free (or vegan). In an effort to keep my sugar intake down, I also exercise self-control and TRY to keep it to one or two treats in my mouth per day. Pick the thing that you really LOVE, and eat a little bit of it. Denying yourself will likely make cravings worse and you unhappy. That said, pay attention to how it makes you feel, and use that as continued justification to slow your roll and stick to 80% great food. That other 20% can be the tastes of things you love. (Also important to note, if you are dealing with a gut or other infection, autoimmune disease, or serious reason to massively restrict ‘treats’, then my advice is different. Think poison, and just move past it.) For many people, not keeping tempting treats in the house is really key, as well as saying out loud to people offering you treats, ‘I don’t eat that.’ I think ‘I don’t’ is so much more empowering than ‘I can’t’—you’re in charge here, you make the decisions about what works for you.”

Another tip for setting yourself up for success is to make sure you always have good food on hand at home. Don’t let yourself get into the situation of coming home after a busy day, with nothing to eat but a handful of snacks! Plan ahead: stock your cupboards with good snacks and dried goods, like nut butters, nuts, brown rice, canned chicken broth, oatmeal, et cetera; keep healthy meats and veggies in the freezer; and make sure you have fruits, eggs, veggies, good fats, and more in your fridge. Taking care to have these items on hand – and knowing you can rely on them – will help you stay on track, but also reduce your stress!

Make sure to carve out time for you, too: keep up with your favorite exercise routine (pole, duh!) and schedule in some “me” time – whether that be taking a bath, reading a book, tuning out from social media or TV for a bit, or even going for a walk.

Keep these tips in mind this holiday season and let us know how you do! If you’re interested in learning more about Ellen, visit her site at: https://abalancedtable.net/

Ellen’s Holiday “Favorite” Recipes:

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing

Sweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Nut Crumble Topping (vegan, gluten-free and no refined sugars) 

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Arugula, Pomegranate Seeds and Goat Cheese (subbed for the feta)

Acorn Squash with Cranberry Apple Quinoa (Vegetarian. Because this is a little too sweet, use only the apple juice – omitting the orange juice – and just dried cranberries – omitting the dried apple) 

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie with a Coconut Crust

Sparkling Alcohol-Free Sangria made with Cranberry Kombucha

Pumpkin Spice Latte with Real Pumpkin

Ellen’s Favorite Gluten Free Recipes:

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies

Flourless Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Vegan and Gluten Free Turtle Cookies

Almond Butter Quinoa Blondies

Peppermint Chocolate Macaroons

Seductive Raw Chocolate Fudge

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Danielle C.

Danielle C.

Creative entity, cat mom, dog auntie, consumer of too much sugar. Pole and lyra enthusiast, amateur foodie, local explorer. One half of Poleitical Clothing. Read my musings at www.poleitical.com.
Danielle C.

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