The holiday season is a time to celebrate with friends and family. Unfortunately, it can also be a time for overindulging, weight gain and even illness. So when you see the piled-up desserts or sugar-heavy side dishes, remember that research links certain cancers – including breast, prostate, colorectal, esophageal, endometrial, kidney and pancreatic – to obesity.
But don’t fret! There are some straightforward ways to enjoy festive food while putting your health first. Follow these simple tips for eating and living healthy this holiday season:
1. Swap it out
Creating healthier versions of your holiday favorites is easy – just swap out a few ingredients for more healthy ones. For instance,
- Replace white flour with finely-ground soft white wheat flour, almond flour or coconut flour.
- Replace oil with unsweetened applesauce.
- Replace refined sugar with maple syrup, agave nectar, honey or coconut sugar.
[Try our recipe for Superfood Cranberry Sauce that uses a smart swap so it’s not loaded with white sugar]
2. Indulge with healthier desserts
Sweets and treats don’t have to be completely off-limits. You can choose desserts made with healthy, cancer-fighting ingredients such as:
- Dark chocolate-covered strawberries
- Crust-less pumpkin pie
- Sugar-free black bean brownies – follow this recipe for a delicious, nutritious dessert
3. Go a little nuts
Snack on a handful nuts before you go to a holiday party. When you arrive to a holiday event with a full stomach, you will less likely overeat or over-indulge in sweets, alcohol, and other unhealthy foods.
Choose from almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts or pistachio- they all have great cancer-fighting power.
4. Consume alcohol in moderation
Although moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it’s also not risk-free. Not only can alcohol impair your judgment, but excessive use can cause liver damage, heart problems, and even cancer. To reduce your lifetime risk of cancer, men should not consume more than 2 drinks per day and women should not consume more than 3 drinks per week.
5. Keep moving
Finding time to exercise – especially during the holidays – is no easy feat. Go for a quick run or create opportunities to walk for at least 10 minutes at a time. When you have the chance to walk up and down stairs, do it – even offer to get someone else’s food or drink for them (cordiality points are a bonus)! Jumping rope is another quick way to get in an intense cardio workout in just a few minutes – plus, it can be done just about anywhere. Regardless of how you do it, try not to stop moving around the holidays – exercise helps relieve holiday stress, weight gain and reduces cancer-related risks.
6. Stay germ-free
Colds and the flu run rampant this time of year. Washing your hands regularly and urging others to do the same will help prevent illness. Use warm soap and water whenever possible. Get your flu shot if you haven’t already – especially if you have or have had cancer.
[Have you read What You Should Know About the 2016-2017 Flu Season?]
From all of us at NFCR, we wish you a safe, happy, wonderful holiday season!
Superfood Cranberry Sauce
(Adapted from Kale & Chocolate)
- 3 cups cranberries, washed
- 1 ½ cups water
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar
- Juice of half an orange (about 1 ounce)
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Pinch of sea salt
- Optional: grate in fresh ginger and/or add up to one teaspoon cinnamon
- In a medium pot bring water, sweetener and cranberries to a boil.
- Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the cranberries split open and most of the water has reduced.
- Remove from the heat. Squeeze the fresh juice of half of an orange into the mixture.
- Mix in the optional spices if using. Add the chia seeds, orange zest, and pinch of salt and mix. Allow the sauce to cool for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
- The mixture will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
- Stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.