Tis the season and you say don’t count calories? Wait, what?
True health is not about counting calories. Calorie counting is not necessary unless we are dealing with a life-threatening illness or we are training for an endurance or strength training sporting event and even then you should work with a board certified professional. Staying lean and healthy is more about the fat than the calories. Keeping dishes low in fat is where your focus should be! When you consume a whole-food, plant-based diet without dairy you don’t have to worry about calories. The fiber fills you up before you can over eat. Think of it as a great build in diet plan.
Let’s look at typical holiday calorie and fat statistics. The average male consumes about 2,600 to 3,000 calories a day, caloric intake depends on age, sex, and physical activity but for the sake of simplicity we are using averages. Women consume about 1,500 -2,200 calories a day. Guess how many calories the average person consumes during a holiday meal?
Drum roll…4,500 to 5,000 calories!
Yes, we more than double our daily intake of calories in basically one meal. What’s worse is the amount of fat we consume in one holiday sitting. A healthy range of fat consumption is about 30 grams per day. Again this depends on age, sex, and activity. The average holiday meal of; turkey, ham, dressing, bean or vegetable casserole, gravy, potatoes and pie contains whooping 229 grams of fat!
Most of us are worried about fat adding inches to our hips but we don’t really think about fat and our blood vessels. Fat damages the lining of our blood vessels… every delicate inch of them! A high fat meal impairs the blood flow for about six hours after the meal has been consumed. However, in this country we hardly ever wait six hours to eat again so those delicate cells are injured again with the next high fat meal even before they have a chance to recover from the last battle. It is like sending the most inexperienced, youngest soldiers to battle for the rest of their lives, never giving them relief.
Don’t worry you can heal the blood vessels with a healthy diet. So what can you do during the holidays to still enjoy those special meals and help protect your health a bit more than usual?
- Simple, eat until you are full not until you are bursting and uncomfortable.
- It’s not just the turkey that makes you tired, it is the over abundance of food in general especially fat.
- Digestion requires lots of energy and blood and when we over eat we tax the digestive system along with others such as the cardiovascular system.
- Eat a large fresh green leafy salad first and chew it well.
- Use a good balsamic vinegar on your green salad not an oil laden, fattening salad dressing.
- Eat a light breakfast of a smoothie or some fresh fruit with low fat, whole grain cereal, or oatmeal so you don’t come to the holiday table starving.
- Be sure when you get up in the morning you drink a few glasses of plain water to keep hydrated.
- Don’t have alcohol on an empty stomach, this just causes your blood sugar to waiver and you’ll over eat to compensate for unstable glucose levels.
- Try not to have seconds later in the evening, instead enjoy a hot beverage or glass of wine (approximately 120 calories and little fat) and relax with your friends and family. After all, isn’t that what holidays and being thankful are all about?
- Donate your leftovers and extra desserts to a family mission.
- Make plans the next day to go walking or shopping with a friend and get yourself out of the house. This way you are not tempted to be a couch potato.
- Eat plenty of fiber each day, 45 grams. Good choices are; chick peas, any beans, high fiber, whole-grain cereal, cruciferous vegetables; cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts.
- When baking use mashed bananas or applesauce in a one to one ratio instead of oil.
- Choose Liquid Stevia and low fat vanilla almond milk for sweetening hot beverages instead of fattening creamers.
- Eat before you go to a party even if it means eating two bananas as you run out the door.
- Relax, enjoy and always have fun… life does have food treats now and then!
Most importantly holidays are about splurging and enjoying those homemade goodies. Enjoy it. Just do some of these tricks to help you sail through it with ease.
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