Healthy Holiday Tip of the Week: Forget the Faux, Lose the Lite and Ditch the Diet: How to Go for the Real Deal During the Holidays

How many of you can recall the days of the early 90s when we thought that fat-free equaled eat as much as you want? From Entenmann’s Fat Free Cakes to Snackwell’s Fat Free Cookies, that decade was remarkable not only in the sense that we saw a heightened version of a diet trend gone terribly wrong, but in the long term consequence of sky-high rates of obesity and diabetes. Why? Because all of it was perpetuated on lower calories per serving due to less, or no fat. And what took the place of it all? Sugar. Even more sugar than the originals already had in the first place! So if you’re thinking that the next thing you’re going to read is a silly recommendation to eat everything in moderation, fear not, because I’d never suggest that. To advise millions of people who have anything from a mild to a dramatic addiction to this legal drug to have a little bit now and then is just as asinine as suggesting that anyone battling an addiction to any other drug should have a little bit now and than. Now, how does this apply to the holidays? Simple: let’s focus on the real versions of things that we find intuitively to be part of our holiday routine and determine how best to incorporate them, yes, with lower or no sugar, but with more of an emphasis on fat, savory taste and a decadent mouthfeel. After all, those diet or lite versions often leave a lot to be desired anyway! Below are my top five tips to execute this theory of forgetting the faux and keeping it real! 1) Skip the skim. If you’re someone who opts to include dairy in their regime, first, make sure it’s 100% grass fed, full fat and ideally, raw. Remember, this tip is not meant to be misread as a suggestion that somehow dairy is now magically part of a Paleo routine. Rather, if adding dairy to your 10-15% of wiggle room is something that you’ve chosen to do, so be it, but leave it as a source of saturated fat and mouthfeel- don’t spoil it by adding sugar into the mix! For example, whip up some cream and have a dollop on top of a cup of cinnamon tea with a cinnamon stick as a garnish, or create a cozy, warming version of my pumpkin smoothie (as above) recipe. Festive, flavorful and fat-centric! 2) Dig into the Dark. Meat, that is. For years, I avoided dark meat chicken, turkey, organ meats and skin in favor of boneless, skinless…and boring. And then I’d wonder why I was hungry in about an hour! Dark meat in poultry is healthier than you might think, according to a new study by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine. A nutrient called taurine, found abundantly in poultry dark meat, significantly lowered the risk of coronary heart disease in women with high cholesterol, the study revealed. The researchers said that taurine also might help protect against diabetes and high blood pressure(1) . Not only that, it’s far more flavorful! Bring on the roasted turkey wings! 3) Get Nutty. So long as you’re not following an autoimmune protocol, some raw nuts in moderation can prove to be the perfect way to tide you from one meal to the next or keep you away from the dessert tray at that holiday party. If you’re already transitioning to becoming a better fat burner, a ‘fat snack’ of raw, sprouted walnuts, or toasted in coconut oil with some savory seasonings can really hit the spot and prevent you from experiencing a blood sugar drop, making you far less likely to even consider those red, green and silvery sprinkled cookies! 4) Swap stuffing for shrooms. Not that kind of shroom! I’m talking portobello, shiitake, enoki, porcine and morel! For years, I’ve prepared a wild mushroom medley with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and all of the other goodies typically found in bread stuffing… but without the bread and guess what? Not only does the flavor profile hit home with all the traditional tastes we’re used to, it does so without stuffing anyone. By the way, who wants to be stuffed? I never understood that principe…. 5) Balance the booze. Let’s face it- if you’re someone who chooses to partake, the holidays can be a time that it may happen a bit more often than you’d planned, and who wants to wake up with a hang over? First, decide when you’re having your drink(s) and then pick the one(s) with the least sugar and consequently, least room for damage. Personally, I’d go for a neat spirit any day, whether it’s Bombay over ice or a neat Chopin. Approach the holidays with a plan which includes some room for enjoyment and sail through without feeling deprived and without feeling you’ve compromised your goals! (1) “Dark Meat Can Be Heart Healthy, Study Shows.” Live Science. N.p., n.d. Web.