Help for maintaining health through the holidays

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It's the holiday time of year again. This is the time when many of us tend to pack on a few extra pounds, and there are a lot of reasons for that.

The stress of everything that needs to be done can lead us to overeat and spend less time exercising. It also gets dark so early in the evening and stays dark so late in the morning, which can lead to more emotional eating.

One of the most obvious causes of holiday health issues is all the sugar and fat-laden foods that are served at parties and social events.

By following a plant-based way of eating, we can alleviate many of these issues. Plant foods in general contain less fat and sugar than other foods do. There are exceptions in the fat category, like avocados and nuts, but those fats are also considered healthy.

So, when looking for something that's tasty and can provide a bit of fat, having avocado or nuts might just do the trick.

My first thought about making something for a holiday party usually involves avocados or a mixture of different types of nuts, from cashews to almonds to Brazil nuts.

At first, I was self-conscious about it to some degree because I would use raw nuts as opposed to salted and roasted, but I soon discovered that a lot of people enjoy munching on raw nuts. They work very well as a party food. The same goes for avocado made into guacamole.

What about sweetness? A lot of holiday party foods are traditionally very sweet. Ideally, we might get that flavor from eating raw fruit. But we don't live in an ideal world, and the holidays are probably not the time to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Sweet desserts can be made sweet using whole, plant-based foods for ingredients. One of the sweetest foods to use is Medjool dates. If you haven't tried Medjool dates, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn how sugary they taste.

Food isn't the only component to a healthy life though. Social interactions play an important part as well, and strengthening relationships with family and friends during the holidays is extremely important.

Don't let eating whole, plant-based food stop you from enjoying your social relationships. Make healthy food where you can. Make healthy choices where you can, but remember not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on the whole food, plant-based way of eating.

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Health & Wellness
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