The holiday season centers on festivities that include decadent food and drink. Participating in family meals and potluck parties is what the season is all about, and some indulgence is part of the fun. But are there places we can cut back a bit?
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Americans gain an average of 1.3 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
This doesn’t seem like much, but the study also found that people tend to lose only half the weight they gained after the holidays. That means your weight can creep up over the years.
We can always focus on eating smaller portions at holiday gatherings. Beyond that, I suggest we focus on reducing the number of high-calorie gifts we give one another. It’s so tempting (and easy) to gift and regift baked goods and candies, but the calories of all those hostess gifts and stocking stuffers add up.
I challenge you to rethink your routine of giving candy or cookies as gifts and consider giving something that promotes healthy habits. Here are some ideas.Tea blends
Green tea, rooibos, chai — there’s a tea out there for everyone. Pick up a tin of tea bags or buy some loose-leaf tea and a strainer for a gift that’s packed with antioxidant power. You can find beautiful tea blended with flowers, dried fruit, herbs and spices. Be sure to look for tea blends that don’t have any sugars or sweeteners in the ingredients list.
The nutritional benefits: All types of tea, especially green teas, are rich in polyphenols that may boost heart health. Regular tea consumption is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke and may help reduce blood pressure. Based on data from epidemiological studies, drinking tea is linked to a lower risk of cancer. In cell and animal studies, polyphenols in tea have been shown to prevent DNA damage and stop cancer from growing and spreading.Herbs and spices
Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or looking for a grab-and-go gift idea, herbs and spices make healthy and thoughtful gifts.
I love going to my spice market and picking out flavors I think my family and friends would enjoy. Piri-piri spice rub and pumpkin spice are among the wide variety of spices I’ve used as gifts. Either buy a pre-made herb or spice mixture or make your own. Just buy your spices in bulk and get some small jars to fill with your creations. Add a gift tag, and you’ve made something beautiful and useful.
If you’re buying an herb blend or spice rub, make sure you check the ingredients list. Avoid any with salt, sugar, dextrose, or artificial flavors or colors added.
The nutritional benefits:Herbs and spices are packed with phytochemicals that lower inflammation. Many of these flavor boosters have natural antiviral and antibiotic properties and may help strengthen the immune system this cold and flu season.
You’ve seen trendy jars full of hot cocoa mix and brownie baking mix. Why not fill a Mason jar with beans, lentils, whole grains, and dried herbs and spices to create a cozy soup mix? Include a recipe tag and put the soup name on the label, and you’ve created a nutritious gift for cold winter days.
The nutritional benefits: When a water-based soup is loaded with high-fiber ingredients such as pulses or vegetables, it can help fill you up with fewer calories. Beans and lentils contain resistant starch, which is great for gut health and may help lower colon cancer risk.Oil and vinegar sets
For my secret Santa gift for a colleague last year, I went with a blueberry-infused vinegar and a rosemary-infused extra-virgin olive oil. I didn’t know much about him, but he’s been sending me photos of the recipes he creates with these gifts ever since.
The nutritional benefits:Extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, also known as omega-9s. These heart-healthy fats can lower LDL cholesterol levels, which helps reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Vinegar helps prevent blood sugar spikes by lowering the glycemic index of a meal. It can also make you feel fuller, which could help with weight control.
The combination of oil and vinegar could encourage the gift recipient to eat more salads this winter.Kitchen tools
My zester is my favorite and most frequently used kitchen tool. I use it to grate ginger and garlic into my recipes and, as the name implies, to zest citrus fruits to incorporate fresh flavor into baking, dips and marinades.
I also love my julienne peeler. It’s a vegetable peeler with teeth that creates long strips to make zoodles (zucchini noodles) and other shredded-vegetable creations. It’s like a spiralizer, but it takes up way less space in your kitchen.
The nutritional benefits:With the zester, you’re encouraging people to try adding more flavor and nutrition to their meals and relying less on salt. The julienne peeler could inspire more creativity with vegetables in the kitchen. And that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Christy Brissette is a dietitian, foodie and president of 80TwentyNutrition.com. Follow her on Twitter @80twentyrule.
Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/5-healthy-food-gifts-for-the-holidays/2017/11/27/cba9edba-c8a8-11e7-8321-481fd63f174d_story.html