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Cookies, Cocktails and Turkey Legs, Oh, My

Cookies, Cocktails and Turkey Legs, Oh, My


No one’s unfazed by the holidays. But you can minimize the damage to your waistline with a few new habits.

By Rose Nyad Orrell

Between the dinner tables loaded with candied yams, butter-lacquered turkeys and Waldorf JELL-O salads and the constant procession of cocktails and cookies that flows so matter-of-factly (of course you’ll have another), the deck is seriously stacked against all of us during the holidays.

We can (and should) guard against overindulging, but even then, our options are very limited. I challenge you to come up with one holiday eating- or drinking-related tradition that doesn’t result in a blood-sugar spike. Short of scarfing down a salad before you leave the house, the best tact is finding a balance. Here are a few tips on how to go about doing just that.

Eat clean for a week

We’re already in the throes of the party season, but it’s not too late to step back for a week, or even just a few days, and dedicate yourself to eating (and drinking) as little sugar as possible. No candy. No fruit. No flour. And—this one may sting—no alcohol. Aim to make each meal a quarter unprocessed protein and three-quarters veggies. Gradually, your body will reset itself, and you’ll feel just how much your moods chased the sugar rush. Which will help you be a little more conscious around the next cookie platter you confront.

Plan for the worst

Know, going in, that you’re probably not going to encounter much in the way of vegetables, or even really anything that isn’t smothered in cheese or powdered sugar. So eat a sensible meal before you get there and treat yourself once you do. After all, I’m not suggesting you steer clear of all desserts and the wine. Just pick one.

Likewise, don’t save yourself for one big meal. A turkey drumstick + a heaping pile of stuffing + a small mountain of mashed potatoes + a wedge of pumpkin pie does not = a day’s worth of mindful eating.

Be a better baker

No one will ever notice if you don’t use all of the sugar specified in the recipe. For that matter, there’s no reason you can’t substitute the flour, too, and upgrade just about everything else. The online reserve of alternative recipes that cater to special dietary needs is growing deeper by the hour.

Move more

Whether you go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood or hit the gym for an hour, do it a few times a week. And be consistent about it, even on Christmas and New Year’s Eve day. When you know what it takes to burn off 300 calories, it becomes a lot easier to pass on pie and that third bourbon.

Just. Slow. Down.

Look at what you’re eating, and then chew it down slowly. If you want that cream puff so badly, at least take the time to savor it. And just because you’re met at the door with an eggnog-filled tumbler, it doesn’t mean you need to down it then and there in front of the host.

Keep this in mind, too: It takes about 15 minutes for your body to register what you just ate. So, if you’re still somehow feeling hungry, wait. If your dinner table’s anything like mine, no one will be jumping up to clear it anyway.

Rose Nyad Orrell is a New Hope-based certified holistic health practitioner (

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1 Comment

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