Nutrition Column – Plan Now for a Simpler, Healthier Holiday

The year-end holidays are upon us and so are thoughts of getting together with family and friends to give thanks, share gifts and enjoy each other’s company.

Why, then, do the holidays have a tendency to make us feel tired and depressed or frustrated and guilty, instead of energized and thankful? It may be our own unrealistic expectations! We may have special people visiting and we want to make each holiday occasion special. When the results are less than perfect, we’re typically heartsick – sometimes to the point that guests feel it’s all their fault.

This year, as you plan your holiday gatherings, put your expectations in perspective. As you make your social and entertainment plans, be sure to include time for yourself and your immediate family. As you put together your holiday menus, be sure they’re not so complex that you don’t have time to enjoy yourself, your family and your guests. For example, consider whether you really need to serve a six-course, sit-down meal when a light buffet would be much easier and just as enjoyable.

Here are three resolutions to keep in mind while you make your holiday plans.

  • I am not going to overwork myself.
    Be kind to yourself. An exhausted host or hostess isn’t good company. When planning your menus, consider simple foods that you know how to prepare. Consider items that can be prepared ahead and frozen or held in another manner. Think about having a potluck party where everybody brings a dish. Also, if holiday guests are staying over, don’t be timid about serving leftovers or ordering out for pizza. A kitchen can seem like a dungeon if you’re held captive cooking there day after day.
  • I am not going to overspend.
    As you rummage through holiday recipes, keep your food budget in mind. How can you enjoy a dinner knowing a large portion of the month’s food budget is sitting on the table? If served attractively, recipes made with common household staples and an occasional special ingredient can be just as elegant as those that call for many expensive ingredients.
  • I am going to serve simple, healthful food.
    A conflict of interest often occurs when entertaining. We invite our friends into our homes as a way of expressing our friendship. We want to make sure they enjoy themselves and are well-fed. Does this mean we need to serve elaborate, calorie-laden foods? Not at all. A better statement of love and friendship is to serve a variety of simple foods that are good for one’s health.

These three resolutions complement each other beautifully. Simple, nutritious foods usually take less time to prepare and are less damaging to the budget than fancy gourmet-type foods. What more could you ask for a healthy, happy holiday?