Many studies suggest what we already know—people tend to gain weight during the holiday season, from October to January. There are several reasons for this, including, but not limited to:
1. Cold weather doesn’t invite any activities (and cloudy rainy days in Central Kentucky even moreso lessen motivation).
2. Casseroles and baked dishes, smeared with butter and extras versus the lean, grilled foods of summer.
3. Holiday cookies and candies.
These parts of the autumn and winter months cannot really be avoided; however, they can be alleviated. We can avoid the weight gain, to an extent. The first is a bit too much for a mere foodie article, but indoor activities that really get you moving would be a good idea—things like Zumba, indoor swimming, rock walls, etc.—as long as they get you moving!
After you get yourself moving, it’s still going to be frigid and not so pleasant outside, right? That is when we want to turn to the beloved casserole. The average casserole contains about 450 to 750 calories per serving. That’s not too bad, until you realize that most suggest a serving size of ½ cup—which is at least half what a typical baked dish connoisseur would consume. Even so, for a “regular” helping of a casserole, it still uses about one third of a person’s daily caloric intake.
So, what should be done? For tradition’s sake, it must be eaten during this time of year—well, what can be done? Simply using the low-fat option, adding spices,using less sodium, and a few substitutes might be best. Whether you use whole milk or skim milk doesn’t always change the flavor of a food. Using savory spices instead of simply butter, salt, and pepper makes a meal more memorable, and taps into the “umami” flavor that the Western world is only beginning to experience. Using naturally sweetened applesauce for oil will only make a holiday cake even more moist and rich, without the decadent caloric toll. In most cases where sour cream or whipped cream is used for baking and some soups, you can substitute Greek yogurt; which is not only a good health choice, but it’s also naturally low in fat content. Also, simply using fresh vegetables and fruits instead of canned products is a perfectly good option. Most farmers’ markets don’t close until nearly the end of November; and many supermarkets have quality vegetables—even locally grown, like Kroger stores. It is so convenient to buy locally and organically produced foods throughout the year—plus, you can look for your own local brand online!
Do you have a picky eater who thinks that everything is ruined by a minor change? Drag them into the kitchen—even if only for a minute! We taste through our sense of smell, too. The experience of helping out in the kitchen also has been suggested to make us more mindful of what we put into our bodies. Maybe then they’ll realize that making a meal more savory with basil or cumin will not be so bad—it’s worth your health to try to change a few minor things. Maybe it also can relieve stress, as worrying about how family and friends will enjoy your cooking is one of the many stresses of holiday duties.
The typical adult consumes about 4500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. Imagine the rest of the season’s eating. With a few minor changes, you can enjoy the comforting tastes of the season, and still have an unsaturated holiday experience.