Healthy Holiday Options


Alternate title: How Easter showed me the light… and almost killed me.

I’m the sort of person who looks forward to holidays, and even more so when I am trying to stay healthy.  I have always thought of holidays as an excuse to indulge (ideally within reason) without feeling guilty.  It’s a chance to eat good foods that you don’t usually get to enjoy, snack on candy, and eat more than one dessert.

This year, I was worried about taking things too far and not keeping it under control.  I’ve done so well with embracing healthier eating habits, but since our Easter meal was hosted at someone else’s house, I was scared of going crazy in a house full of “bad” food.  I tried to eat before we left so I was less hungry, but I was still feeling really snacky when we got there.  So here’s how I did:

  • 2 diet cokes
  • 3 small slices of cheddar cheese with 5 pepperoni
  • 3 Cadbury mini eggs
  • 8 orange jelly beans
  • 3oz honey glazed ham
  • 5 shrimp with a teaspoon of cocktail sauce
  • 3 pieces of broccoli
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 deviled egg
  • 2 dinner rolls
  • 1 piece of cake (which I brought, so it was lower calorie)
  • 1 tiny sliver of coconut pie (really, a sliver)
  • 1/2 coffee, 1/2 cocoa

I was SO FULL when we left, and as the night went on I felt worse and worse.  I didn’t eat very much, at least not when you consider what I would normally have eaten on Easter, but I felt awful!  Looking back, I think I had two major problems.  I drank almost no water (and I am used to drinking 1.5-2 liters per day) and I had ZERO activity.  I sat on the couch, I napped with my daughter, and I sat on the deck and talked with family.  The day was lovely and relaxing, but it just wasn’t what I wanted anymore.  I didn’t enjoy the nutritionally neutral food.  I wanted more savory options, more fruits and vegetables.

The biggest, and strangest, eye opener was the Peep moment.  I am a Peep fanatic.  Two years ago, when I was working in an office, my entire bottom desk drawer was FULL of Peeps.  People sent me emails about the Peepshi: Sushi from Peeps article because everyone remembered how into Peeps I was.  When we showed up for Easter this year, there were Peeps everywhere!  I managed to stay away from them at first, but after a few hours, I grabbed a yellow Peep bunny and bit it’s head off.

Photographic proof of my Peep addiction - an office desk drawer FULL of Peeps.

Photographic proof of my Peep addiction - an office desk drawer FULL of Peeps.

Ew!  Seriously, it tasted awful.  It tasted like chemicals and dye.  How did I like those things so much?  Just in case it was a weird Peep, I had Aaron try a bite of it too.  He said no, that’s just what Peeps taste like.  They’re kind of disgusting!  Poor Peeps.  Turns out I just can’t eat them anymore.  Since they are at the least nutritionally neutral (if not nutritionally damaging), I am not particularly sad.  Still, I felt odd to witness such a clear, decisive change in my palate.

I woke up this morning feeling nauseous.  Aaron isn’t sick, so it isn’t a matter of having eaten something bad.  I think I am just no longer well suited to eating the sort of food I used to look forward to.  Instead, from now on I will be bringing my own sauteed veggies, a fruit based dessert, and some healthy snacks for me and the family.  I was actually surprised by my body’s reaction, since I thought I did pretty well with my choices.

So what’s the best way to survive any holiday or family get-together?  Stick with what’s familiar.  If you’ve been eating a low fat, low calorie diet, become a vegetarian, or made any other changes to your diet that no longer quite fit with your family’s habits, bring your own food.  You can frame it as bringing dishes to share, and make enough to do just that, but bring the foods you’re used to eating.  You’ll be happier and healthier, and you may just turn an unsuspecting family member on to a healthier option.

If bringing your own food isn’t an option, try to stick to plain fruits and veggies while filling up on water.  Have small bites of the rest of it.  It’s a fine line, because you don’t want to deny yourself the things you want.  If you really want a deviled egg, have one.  You may, however, discover that they aren’t nearly as good as you were expecting them to be, so start with just one or even half of one and go from there.

If you stay hydrated and try to fill your plate with big servings of fresh, raw foods, you can survive any food centered gathering without suffering the damages.

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3 Responses

  1. I just threw away a bunch of peeps because you are right—they taste disgusting! As a former peep-aholic myself, it’s hard to believe I used to eat those nasty things. (even my 2 year old told me they taste gross!)

    get lots of water today and hopefully you will be feeling better. Today is a new day! 🙂

    PS: I have a jellybean hangover. Apparently I haven’t realized those are gross yet too. 😦

  2. Hah, I had a Peep yesterday and thought the same thing: YUCK! I was never a big Peep fan, though. I’m more of a Reeses’s girl.
    Sorry you’re not feeling well. Honestly, you didn’t do too bad I think! Take today to detox, you’ll feel better soon!

  3. Blech. I had sort of anticlimactic end to my 6 week absence from sugar. But I liked it again.

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