Holidays No Reason to Eat Too Much

December 18, 2015 (Updated: August 16, 2018)
Lily Moran

Some call the upcoming holidays “the silly season”—not without justification.

I like to call it “the foodie season” since this season brings us more great foodie treats than any other time of year.

More varieties of healthy fruits and vegetables, thanks to the growers of beautiful heirlooms.

More and better choices of centerpiece bird, be it turkey, duck, or goose, thanks to the growing number of humane, caring producers.

Here’s how get the best of the best for you and your family.

No fouled fowl

If you don’t already know this, the millions of commercial turkeys grown for this season are cruelly raised and are a serious health hazard.

They’re fattened on mega-high-calorie diets, so they grow bigger and faster than natural turkeys. Their breasts are so front-heavy, they can’t fly, run, or even mate. They’re artificially inseminated.

Some 90 percent of them also carry the leading cause of food-borne illness in the US—the bacteria campylobacter.

They’re fed antibiotics to combat bacterial infection—antibiotics that we ingest, in turn increasing our vulnerability to countless illnesses by killing off the protective bacteria in our gut.

They’re also full of synthetic hormones, which end up in their meat and on our plates.

All so wrong.

If you really want a turkey, get a real one, raised in humane, natural conditions. They’re the opposite of factory turkeys—they’re good food.

Your goose and ducky alternatives

More and more people are choosing goose or duck over turkey. Great news—not just because they’re delicious in a thousand different recipes. Also because we’ve finally stopped shunning them for their natural extra helping of fat—much of which is wrongfully vilified saturated fat.

The fact is, duck and goose fats (and many others) are good medicine—essential for good health. They’re staples in some of the longest-living populations on the planet.

For the rest of the meal, practice safe eating

We’ve all got our favorite holiday veggies, fruits, tubers, compotes, stuffing, sweets, and so on. Make sure yours are fresh, local, and naturally raised.

Unfortunately, our food labeling laws make that hard to determine.

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When produce is labeled “organic,” it doesn’t mean everything is fine. “Organic” doesn’t cover all the ways your food was raised and processed.

Even the labels “pasture-raised,” “free-range,” and “cage-free” for birds have been corrupted. Somehow, producers can make these claims even if the bird has spent no time in a natural setting.

Crazy. Ask your provider where and how your bird was raised.

Weight watchers, watch out

If you’ve been on a weight-loss regimen, here are ways not to eat your progress away.

Don’t “leave room for later.” Don’t skip or change your meal routine. It messes with your blood sugar, which messes with everything else. Eat normal meals at normal times.

Feed thirst first. What feels like hunger is often thirst. First morning drink? Twenty ounces of water. Then an ounce for every two pounds you weigh through the day.

Alternate holiday cheer with healthy. Alcohol, eggnog, and punches are loaded with empty calories, and alcohol dehydrates you. Alternate them with low-calorie options, like sparkling water with fruit juice and a wedge of lime.

Start with soup and salad. Foods containing water help us feel full faster. A small bowl of soup and a lightly dressed salad increase hydration—and your intake of healthy greens.

Focus on fruits and veggies. When it’s entrée time, don’t load up on meat and squeeze a few veggies in around the edges. Instead, fill your plate with veggie dishes, then add a small piece of meat—and eat the meat first. Its protein turns off hunger signals.

Slow and savor. Chew slowly, mindfully, savoring every bite. After finishing your first plate, wait 20 minutes before seconds. It takes that long for your brain and stomach to agree “We’re full.” Still hungry? Repeat the above.

Halve dessert. The pie! A family tradition? OK! Just don’t have a lot. Share with someone, or only take a half portion for yourself.

I’m thankful—for you

So hit your farmer’s market and stock up for the best holiday meals ever. And be sure to thank your local producer for working incredibly hard to help us thrive.

They’re just one of so many things we have to be thankful for.

You, my reader, are also one.

Happy, healthy holidays!

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