I think I earned a Mom of the week award for my Very Merry Berry Santas.
I cut the tip off both a strawberry and golden raspberry. Put the two bases down for the body and face and the two tips on top of that for the hat and pom pom then used a touch of honey to stick on sultana pieces for eyes, a strawberry piece for his big, red nose and golden raspberry buttons.
My husband, well, I can’t really blog what he said about them. Lets put it this way, he didn’t instantly recognise them as Santa. However, the intended recipient (Ana), showed more imagination and gratitude and the Very Merry Berry Santas were an instant hit.
I’ve seen similar types of Santa treats made with big puffy marshmallow faces, chocolate chip eyes and dotted cream buttons which certainly look cute but I don’t think Ana would have been any more impressed than she already was (did I mention, she was really impressed?) I thought that she’s demonstrating a great lesson for the season:
Enjoying holiday festivities and eating healthily doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive.
Many blogs recently have been talking about the 5 pound (2.3 kg) average weight gain that supposedly occurs between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Whilst this study from the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that gaining 5 pounds over the holiday period can be the case for overweight individuals (who put on more weight on average over the holiday season than those of us who are at a healthy weight), this study from the same journal found that on average, holiday weight gain is actually closer to just a pound (600gm). Before we think, “phew that’s not much”, the same study found that we tend not to take it off again. The more Christmas’ we have, the more our weight goes up, pound by pound which means holiday eating can have quite a big impact over time even for those of us who are not overweight.
So, where do we go wrong over the holidays? And what can we do about it?
We don’t need to take an “all or nothing” approach to celebrating. Sure, celebrate. Celebrate with food and drink. That doesn’t mean we need to approach each meal and party with the mentality of since we’re letting go a little then . we. REALLY. SHOULD. LET. GO! Undo the top button of our pants and chow down a third helping. And while we are at it, to add insult to injury and tell ourselves that since we’ve “blown” all our good intentions then we might as well finish the box of chocolates we started last night and put our feet up on the couch for an afternoon post pig out slumber. A better option would be to Stuff the turkey but not ourselves. We should enjoy Christmas dinner. Perhaps even have something that we normally wouldn’t and enjoy it without any guilt. But then forgo the extra helpings that take us from happy to feeling sick and suggest a family walk or family football game instead of a too stuffed to move nap.
A similar psychological problem that can lead to over consumption at this time of year is called the “last supper” phenomenon. A study found that overweight people who were about to enter a treatment program often gained weight between the acceptance and commencement into the program. Why? The participants reported that they were indulging in foods they thought would be “off limits” on the program. We know that if our brains are concerned that there might be a shortage of food coming up they trigger us to consume more calories – even if that shortage is self imposed. Perhaps that New Year’s resolution to “diet” isn’t such a good thing to be focussed on over the holidays. We can eat healthily now and healthily in the new year. We don’t need to go from “last supper” to “starvation”.
This “food shortage” situation also kicks in when we’re really hungry. When our tummies are grumbling our bodies are brilliant at telling us to seek food. The hungrier we are, the more calorie dense food we seek out. It’s a survival mechanism and it has kept our species alive for centuries. We can’t out will party food when we’re hungry, instead, out plan it and don’t turn up to the Christmas party starving. (Also, if there is any time of year that is the most important for not going to the supermarket hungry, it’s now. Those marketers know how to package Christmas treats to look better than they really taste!)
Another trick for Christmas parties is when going to a gathering offer to bring something and of course, make that a healthy option. Christmas trees made of broccoli, decorated with baby tomato baubles, yellow capsicum tinsel and a star with cauliflower (or hummus dip) snow. It’s festive, tastes great and is a healthy snack. Fruit stars and trees and even berry Santas can also be fun.
It’s a beautiful time of year for family traditions. The tree covered with candy canes, the advent calendar (that we had as a kid) bursting with chocolate, baking Christmas cookies, Grandma’s special recipe Christmas cake that’s so big it needs a special tin, oh, and we can’t forget the plum pudding, that’s Dad’s favourite. Eggnog in the evenings by the fire, rum balls as gifts for everybody, pancakes Christmas morning and candy from “Santa” in all the stockings. I like traditions too, but one thing my husband and I talk about a lot is which family traditions to keep (and we both come from wonderful families with great traditions) and which ones we are forgoing for new, family traditions. We’ve found by consciously thinking about our traditions they’ve become more meaningful to us as a family – and healthier!
I see the kids get used as an excuse this time of year too. The candy canes, advent calendar, candy in the stockings…. “none of which is for the adults, it’s for the kids” I hear parents everywhere claim. As if parents don’t raid their kids’ candy stash! (C’mon, I know you’ve done it). If it makes it into the house it makes it into the mouth. Further more, the kids don’t need it. They really don’t need it. They’ll have plenty of Christmas treats given to them at malls and parties (Ana’s new favourite thing is candy canes. Santa has already given her three this year when we’ve been out and about and it’s only the 14th December).
We all know lack of sleep and too much alcohol are both triggers for over eating and both can get a little harder to manage at this time of year. You may have other triggers that you know make it difficult for you not to overeat. Schedule some rest and relaxation. This time is supposed to be enjoyable.
We will be certainly enjoying a Christmas day feast here. Christmas dinner can be both healthy and delicious. I’ll be making several of my favourite veggie dishes (I don’t know what yet, it will depend a bit on what we get in our veggie box that week), and my husband will cook a nice cut of meat (he’s Argentinean, that’s his department). We probably will even have dessert (which is likely to be homemade and will probably involve fruit somehow). We will most certainly have a wine. We’ll prepare it together as a family and eat it together as a family. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s unlikely I’ll be a pound up on December 31st.
Have a healthy and happy Christmas everyone!