Tis’ the Season for Studying, Baking and Eating

Yes…I still get advent calendars and love it!

Currently I am not only prepping for my favorite holiday of the entire year (CHRISTMAS), but also my DTR exam (the exam to become a registered dietetic technician).

My crazed study binders…clearly Starbucks is necessary

I am on a rigorous study schedule and am working 5-6 days/week, so my days have started to take on a very cyclical routine: wake up, work out, study, cook, work, sleep (not always in that order, but you get the picture). On my days off I cook 3-4 vegetarian dishes that last a few days, which enables me to stay on track with my eating.

Garlic Roasted Veggies!
Peppers for my mango salsa, yum!

It is especially important to practice mindful eating right now, considering this season is known for its delectable cookies/desserts, intense (sometimes high in fat,sodium,sugar, etc.) appetizers and sugary cocktails.  I do have to confess that I am not guilt free, I love baking for other people and am very much planning to go all out in the next few weeks; however, I don’t bake too much in bulk and try to cut back the sugar or fat in recipes when I can. It’s important to enjoy treats, but try to do so in moderation.

Brownies with espresso-chocolate frosting and caramel drizzle…for shame! 
Carrot cake cupcakes for my dad’s birthday

Here are some helpful holiday hints to stay on track:

1. Don’t drink your calories: Although you may be tempted with the pretty cocktails, rich eggnog and luscious hot chocolate, try to treat them as if they were a dessert and either avoid them altogether or only have one.
2. Eat before you go: When you attend all of those awesome holiday parties and get togethers this month, make sure not to go hungry. If you don’t have time to eat a healthy,light meal before you go, nosh on a healthy snack: 1/4 cup almonds, 1 piece of whole wheat toast and peanut butter, veggies and hummus, small piece of fruit, etc. Also, always make sure you are adequately hydrated! Sometimes your body mistakes thirst for hunger, so drink a glass of water/have a cup of tea before you sit down for a meal. This will ensure that you don’t walk in the door of the party and head straight for the cookie platter or fondue pot. These little steps alone will save you a few hundred calories by the end of the night.
3. Provide your own healthy dish or appetizer: Tis’ the season of giving and I am sure that the host of the party will welcome any contribution to the dinner table. Bring a delicious fruit or veggie platter, low-fat bean dip/salsa or a vegetable lasagna (to name a few). This way you know there is something you can eat and may help others maintain their healthy habits too.
4. Integrate exercise into traditions: Too busy/rushed this season to stay on your exercise routine? Incorporate low impact cardio into your family quality time. Try: an after dinner walk, holiday 5k (they are really fun!!), morning hike, power walk through the mall, etc.

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