Holiday Guide: Part II

Winter drink with cranberry, cowberry and black chokeberry on the old wooden background with fir branches, selective focus

Ho ho ho from your favorite Jewess!

Navigating the holiday food temptations can leave you feeling like a spun dreidel (or a Christmas tree without water). Fear not! You have the power, the knowledge, and the most festive dietitian in all the land at your side to assist.

The holidays are when most folks gain the most weight per month; an average of 4-6 pounds, to be precise. That’s about one-third of Madeleine’s entire furry spaniel body! Fat mass is not metabolically benign, that is, you aren’t just storing it for the winter. Fat mass is inflammatory and can cause hormonal derangements.

Yikes.. as if you weren’t crazy enough during Christmas! Plus, it’s not cute. Lean muscle mass, on the other hand, is metabolicallly active at rest. While you sit, it keeps on burning energy (calories). As it is also less dense than fat, muscle doesn’t take up as much room on your body, so you appear lean and sleek like a (faux) winter stole.

Keep these tips stuffed in your mental Christmas stocking for the month of December:

  1. The world is not ending (thanks a lot, Mayans). These scrumptious treats that will rain upon you this month will reappear again next year. You are not a polar bear hoarding foods for the winter. Food is plentiful in this country and your favorite treats can always be accessed at any time during the year. So enjoy them in moderation.
  2. For Christmas sake, eat breakfast. It’s called break-fast for a reason! Your body fasted for a good 8-12 hours while you slept and now it’s time to replenish your glycogen stores to leave you satiated and alert for your day. Breakfast reduces cravings, and blood sugar drops later in the day so you are less likely to overeat. Always choose a source of protein (organic, free-range, omega-3 eggs or organic raw nut butter or organic raw nuts or organic 2% yogurt/cottage cheese) as well as a serving of fruit or vegetables. Depending on your weight status, you may be able to add a complex grain as well (plain oatmeal, Ezekiel toast, sweet potato, etc.). Consult us if you’re curious ;).
  3. Don’t drink the Christmas tree water like the cat does, but stay hydrated. Drinking water before meals leads to reduced fullness. We often mistake hunger for thirst as well. We could tell you 8 zillion other benefits to being hydrated, but we know you have Christmas shopping to do. Drink until your pee is as clear as the Waterford crystal on your wish list. Add citrus fruits and herbs for a fun kick.
  4. We know it gets real festive at holiday parties and you’ll be looking to imbibe. Stick to 1-2 cocktails made of any clear spirit + any citrus squeeze + soda water. Drink a full glass of water between cocktails and try to eat before/during your guzzling. As for champagne, we prefer our bubbles in our bath. That is some bloated business waiting to happen right there… Take a sip during the office toast and feed the rest to your intern.
  5. When the weather outside is not frightful (it never is in Miami), head to your local farmer’s market for TONS of in-season fruits and vegetables. Hello, rhubarb! Pleasure to see you again! There’s so much that can be done with berries, pumpkin, and winter squash. See our Essence Pinterest page for recipes. Don’t mind us happily munching on our homemade cinnamon cayenne roasted pumpkin seeds over here.
  6. Prepare for battle. If you’re like us, you’re as social as our logo (the Essence butterfly). You’ll have tons of dinners and soirees to attend, but be as selective with your food as you are with your calendar; only eat the best! If you know the party you’re going to attend is only cocktails, make a smart choice for dinner BEFOREHAND, so you aren’t tempted by flaky pastry hors d’oeuvres. If it’s a dinner you’re attending, peep the restaurant menu beforehand and consult us for what to order. Or choose the leanest protein there and load up your plate with vegetables. For dessert, choose ONE modestly-sized piece, 2-3x/week, and savor every bite.
  7. Speaking of hors d’oeuvres, we know you love white glove service, but choose pure proteins like ceviche, tartare, shrimp/chicken skewers, etc. Caprese salad is also a good choice (but only have one or two! Cheese is addicting!) Stay away from anything encased in dough (lookin’ at you, mini quiches, croquetas, and pigs in a blanket), or that appears doused in cream or sauce.
  8. Stay active. You are much less likely to gain weight during the holidays if you maintain your exercise routine. You may have to squeeze those workouts into the morning to leave room for cocktail hours at night, but we promise, you’ll feel much better when you do! Essence is well-connected with various exercise specialists. We would be happy to share them with you, so you can perfect your exercise regimen/goals while you improve your nutrition with us!
  9. What to do with all of the office goodies and edible gifts you receive? Give the gift of sharing. You don’t need all those cookies/cakes/pies/chocolates in your life. Have one, and share the love with others around you. ‘Tis the season, after all.

Essentially Yours,
Monica