The holidays are here. Between office parties and family gatherings, it’s really easy to eat foods that don’t fit with an anti-cancer diet. I know many of our cancer patients feel a bit left out of the holiday season because the traditional food offerings are loaded with ingredients that don’t help them heal. But there are many ways to cope when others are making the food that keeps the cheer in the holidays.
I was inspired by a blog from VegKitchen, which offers some great tips on how to approach holiday eating.
- Be a subtly persuasive guest: If you’re an invited guest, offer to help out the host by bringing a delicious dish that fits within your eating guidelines. When people discover how great your food tastes, you might even have some converts!
- Have fun modifying old favorites: Many traditional dishes can be made in a healthier way with just a few ingredient swaps. Eggnog can be “Vegg-nog,” mashed potatoes can be made with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, and dates can substitute for white sugar in many holiday desserts.
- Be a fabulous host: When you’re planning your own event, take the opportunity to introduce your guests to your more health-conscious eating choices. Make it a game to guess the substituted ingredient on more traditional dishes.
- Make veggies and fruit center stage: Even though starches are typically center stage in a holiday meal, seasonal produce such as squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables can substitute nicely. Plus, a fresh green salad with pears, cranberries and toasted walnuts is always a nice counterbalance to the heavier foods. And don’t forget that even pies (such as this great pumpkin pie recipe from the Minimalist Baker) can be improved by using raw ingredients in the filling, and nuts instead of wheat flour for the crust.
- Think outside the cocktail: If you feel awkward being the only one not drinking alcohol during a winter festivity, consider kombucha as a flavorful alternative. It’s a fermented tea that comes in many flavors and has a little effervescence to it. Pick varieties that have a low sugar content and garnish with a lime and some mint, and you’ll have a fun mocktail on your hands. We’ll be blogging in more detail about kombucha as we approach New Year’s!
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a downer for those who want to eat with their wellness in mind. I know when I stick to my anti-cancer diet, I feel better and don’t have to worry about all the bloating and weight gain that usually accompanies holiday gatherings!