I tried something new before my grandchildren started decorating their gingerbread houses this year. I made them a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and milk. Didn’t work. They took a few bites and in excited anticipation said, “I’m through, Grammy. Can we decorate the gingerbread houses now?”
As expected, a lot of sugar sprinkles and gum drops (plus special cookies from a gift basket I had received from a friend) didn’t make it onto the gingerbread houses.
Sometimes it’s just that way during this busy and festive time of the year. I intend to eat the leftover salad in the fridge for lunch. Then, as I hurriedly wrap gifts that need to get to the postoffice pronto, a cookie on the counter calls to me. Sigh.
The good news is that I’m probably not going to die of malnutrition if I skip a few healthful meals. The bad news is I’m not going to feel so good if I do.
It’s always helpful to remember two things: Holidays come every year. And every year, including now, we can choose how we will handle the season. Here are a few things to consider:
— Choose to drink water. Carry it on errands or take a swig at every traffic light. Another choice that may save me some grief: Ask for and sip on a glass of water between each holiday beverage I’m offered.
— Choose to use healthier ingredients in traditional family recipes. On second thought, nah.
— Choose moderation. When I give myself permission to savor small amounts of luscious holiday foods, New Year’s resolutions don’t look quite so scary.
— Choose dark chocolate. It contains higher levels of antioxidant-rich cocoa. Antioxidants help protect our life-giving cells as we go about our merry ways. On average, dark chocolate averages 3 times more of these substances than milk chocolate.
— Choose to share. Food is an important part of holiday celebrations. But I don’t have to eat the whole batch of cookies myself. Share the joy.
— Choose to practice. Holidays come every year. This year, I will focus more on the reason for our celebrations and less on the box of See’s.
— Choose to take time for what matters. Hopefully my grandkids will remember dancing in the living room to John Denver’s Muppets Christmas CD as much as they will recall consuming half the decorations for their gingerbread houses.
— Choose to nourish your soul. These days are a precious few. And for Christians, this holiday is truly a holy celebration. I will remind myself of that through all the hustle and less-than-perfect meals this season.
On second thought, maybe I will have that leftover salad in the fridge. Merry Christmas!
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.