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Celebrating Jesus' Birthday the Healthy Way

Posted on December 12, 2019 at 10:55 AM


Image by Public Domain Pictures from Pixabay.


I don’t know about you, but most Christmases start around Thanksgiving and finally end around Valentine’s Day. Why? Because we get hooked on hyperflavoring, fats, sweets, and salts. Our notion of veggies looks more like overly mushy green beans—very few of them—doing the backstroke in mushroom soup sauce with an overall blizzard of deep fried onion rings. In fact, at family holiday gatherings, anything that looked like a recognizable vegetable or fruit was shunned by almost all. Who ate those? The person labeled health-nut and the diabetic who was scolded at the doctor’s office for too high of an A1C not long ago. That's who. Jesus' birthday can be celebrated by all when we offer healthy, delicious meals for this feast.


What Traditional Feasting Does


Rich fat and carb laden foods are accompanied by sugar and salt. Lots of it. Comfort foods, like what we see during the holidays, are addictive. They create feel good hormones like that of getting a prize or that of sex are released into the blood stream. We also associate certain foods with people, places, and times of year.(Psychology Today).This effect makes it hard for many people to go back to eating healthy on regular days. They are struggle to leave the Christmas on the holiday.


Not only do we put on extra weight, around .2-.4% between Thanksgiving and New Years  we compromise our health (MSN). Much of what feels like extra weight is likely bloat. If someone is pre-diabetic, it could help them over the edge into type 2 diabetes. Certain foods during family gatherings are higher in purines which aggravates gout (Medical News Todayhttps://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315732.php#avoid" target="_blank">). Salt and fats makes blood pressure rise, so those with high blood pressure controlled by medication likely will find their blood pressure high anyway. Extra refined carbs and fats aggravate heart disease and cause inflammation in the body. You will feel yucky and lethargic, but happy. Ridiculous, huh?


I’ve worked with clients, who had been eating clean for a few weeks, come back from Christmas parties feeling like absolute garbage. After they learned their lessons, they took healthy foods along to share so they would stay well at future gatherings.


Why Feast?


There is a biblical foundation for feasts as celebrations. First, God commanded the Israelites to observe certain celebrations with feasts like the Passover (Exodus 12). Feasts were always a part of religious observances, often with a fast involved before the feast, weddings, and more. In Psalm 22:19 we read that the prosperous shall eat and worship and everyone who dies will bow before Him (Jesus). In Ecclesiastes 10:17-19 we see that there is a proper time for feasting and celebration that it brings laughter and joy, but not for the sake of overindulgences. There is a time to feast, but when the celebration is done, we should go back to living a healthy lifestyle.


How to Incorporate Them Into the Christmas Season


All those sauces are hiding your veggies that had the nutrients boiled out of them. They are laden with fats, salt, and carbs. Steamed veggies retain more nutrients when they still have a bit of crispness. Fresh cut vegetables like broccoli and carrots retain the nutrients your body craves. If you really like the taste of dips or sauces, lightly dip veggies into sauces for a light taste that highlights, not hides, the flavor of fruits and vegetables. If you like them roasted, use a healthy oil with a touch of herbs, but avoid too much salt. A light dash will do. This way, you protect your health, your waistline, and you feel a whole lot cherrier. It is a win-win!


As we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, do enjoy some of the seasonal treats, but we can choose to celebrate with God’s provision of healthy, nutritious food so we can function well through the season. It is good to not aggravate health conditions by overdoing salty, sugary, fat-laden foods. Such swaps as low-fat plain yogurt can replace sour cream. Even using non-dairy alternatives would improve the nutrition content and lower the saturated fats. Replace saturated fats with healthy fats like olive, grapeseed, and safflower oils. Fats are flavor enhancers, so you need them, just not as much as with the original recipe. Reduce salt or sugar, but increase the seasoning or spices to keep foods flavorful. Watch out for seasonings because they often contain a considerable amount of salt or sugar. Mrs. Dash is a great alternative, but not gluten-free for celiac or gluten-sensitivity.


Rather than adding glazes to hams, gravy to turkey, chicken, or beef, use bone broth instead. This amps the flavor when you increase spices with a touch of salt, since ham is already salty. Avoid brining or deep frying turkey, for Pete’s sake! Ugh. Bake, roast, or broast meats instead. You could inject seasoning into the meat or marinate overnight before cooking. You want your guests to absolutely love eating with you, not dreading it.


Incorporate sweet potatoes without adding anything to them because they are already sweet. Also, great for holiday festivities is wild or black rice with onions, peppers, and seasonings with some broth or bullion. Keep the carbs limited, though. So, rather than offering rolls, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, and rice pilaf, try simplifying your menu with wild or black rice pilaf and baked sweet potatoes. Leave out the gravy, but substitute with a broth sauce.


Desserts can often be healthy and delicious. Try using coconut milk instead of condensed milk. How about honey or maple syrup instead of cane sugar? You can use avocado in chocolate desserts like chocolate mousse pie with a crushed nut crust. The options are endless.


Looking for healthy swaps? Check here:


 Healthy Holiday Dish Swaps from Health.com



Healthy Holiday Food Swaps from Everyday Health



11 Healthy Holiday Ingredient Swaps from Active.com


A special note: Look for gluten-free on your meat labels. Use corn or rice starch instead of flour to make sauces. Do find out if your guests have food allergies as well. Corn starch could be deadly to someone with allergies to corn. Use cookware or foil baking pans to avoid cross-contamination.This way your menu will make your gluten-free and allergy-free guests breath a sigh of relief. With fewer carbs, it will make carb counting easier for your diabetic guests, too. Everyone who comes will feel welcome when you host.


Celebrate!

Enjoy celebrating Jesus’ birthday with a lovely feast. He is the reason for Christmas. May God bless you!

 

Categories: faith, health, nutrition

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