Child Holding Healthy Vegetable Tray with Crackers

#HolidaysWithHeinens: Healthy Family for the Holidays

The content and photography of this post are provided courtesy of Lauren Egger of the Healthy Mom Project.

Don’t let holiday treats and special gatherings break your cycle of healthy living. Here are some tips for staying merry as you celebrate, shop and travel this holiday season!

Eat Wisely

It’s important to aim for real whole foods. Reach for a variety of colorful veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and organic/ grass fed meat. Avoid GMO’s, food dyes, artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and other ingredients you don’t recognize. Eat small portions frequently. This will keep your blood sugar from dropping and keep you from indulging.

Utilize the Crock Pot

If you don’t usually use a crock pot during the year, now is the time to break it out! With the hustle & bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to forego making dinner and order out. However, this usually means less healthy food for your family!

Even if all you do is make plain chicken in your crock pot (chicken + 1/2 cup of water & S+P), you can do so many things with shredded chicken! You can make chicken wraps, tacos, chicken salad, enchiladas and even add it on top baked potatoes. Chicken is so easy, simple and versatile!

Sundays when we spend time together as a family we usually make an easy “Pot Roast”. Simply place Heinens ‘Beef Chuck’ in a crock pot  and add lots of salt, pepper, garlic, and carrots with 1 cup of beef broth and 1/8 cup red wine vinegar. Cook on low for 8 hours, them add  5 Tbsp. of organic ketchup at the end. This is a great Sunday comfort meal that saves you time since you make it in the morning. Easy peasy!

Child Holding Healthy Vegetable Tray with Crackers

Limit Sugar

The recommended amount of added sugar per day is 6 teaspoons (24 grams) for women and  9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. Kids are supposed to eat less than 6 teaspoons per day. Eating sugar releases the feel good hormone, dopamine, from your brain. However, having a high sugar intake increases your risk for many diseases & also keeps you craving more unhealthy food.

Sugar weakens your immune system for a few hours after you consume it. Try to get in the habit of reading food labels. Kid’s juice boxes usually contain a lot of sugar, so I recommend making the easy switch to water. If you are using sugar in a recipe, try swapping it for coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is lower on the glycemic index and is a 1 : 1 replacement for white sugar. As a bonus, it also offers more vitamins and minerals.

Focus on Fat + Protein

This is super important! Eating enough healthy fats & protein helps you stay full longer, and also helps regulate your blood sugar so it doesn’t fluctuate causing you to eat more. When the pre-dinner munchies come about, reach for a snack with protein and fat to keep you satiated until the main meal. This applies to your kids too!

Snack Ideas

  1. Homemade Trail Mix: Pumpkin Seeds, cashews, Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chops, Almonds and Sunflower Seeds
  2. Boiled Eggs + Carrots
  3. Hummus + Simple Mills Almong Flour Crackers + Veggies

For more healthy snack ideas, visit my Grab-N-Go Snacks Guide.

Drink Hot Lemon Water

Simple changes lead to more simple changes that make a big impact in the long run. When you wake up in the morning, squeeze a half of a lemon into warm water and drink up. We wake up dehydrated after sleeping for 7 + hours.

Lemon contains vitamin C as well as antibacterial and antiviral properties, which help your immune system immensely! Lemon also acts as a digestive and detoxifying agent in cleaning the liver, which helps your digestive health. This is a small, but powerful change you can make on a daily basis.

Bring a Healthy Dish to the Party

Be the person who brings a healthy side dish to share at holiday parties. This way you can dig in, too! Pomegranate Avocado Salsa is a perfect, festive and healthy crowd pleasing appetizer. If you want to skip the hassle of making a dish- Heinen’s has a prepared broccoli slaw that is delicious. Serve in a white bowl to make it extra festive.

Sip Slowly on the Alcohol

Have a drink, but not too many! When you’re at a gathering, try to limit yourself to two drinks and have a glass of water in between. Avoid artificial syrups or flavors that have added sugar. If you like beer, opt for a darker brew since it has more antioxidants, or try gluten free beer. Whatever you do, alternate alcoholic drinks with water; for every cocktail you drink, hydrate with a glass of water. This will help prevent a hangover.

Better-for-you beverages:

  • Vodka + soda water + colorful berries to garnish.
  • Wine Spritzer. Fill 2/3 of your glass with seltzer or mineral water. Fill the last third with your favorite wine!

Get Plenty of Exercise

Exercise to lift your mood, increase your energy levels, strengthen your muscles and bones and help with relaxation and sleep quality, which is much needed around the holidays! Get your kids involved with a family workout by making a fun obstacle course to do together. Our kids are watching us everyday, so if they see us moving, they’re likely to move as well!

Don’t Forget the Basics

  • Wash your hands and teach your kids to do the same
  • Stay hydrated
  • Don’t feel guilty about indulging here and there. There’s no need to feel guilty about Grandma’s famous apple pie.
  • STRESS LESS! When we are stressed, we are more likely to fall in to bad habits and reach for unhealthy food. Keep in mind the reason we celebrate the holidays & what is important.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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