Head into the Holiday Season with Health in Mind

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With October approaching quickly, we are starting to see Halloween decorations flood the stores and feel a tiny crispness in the air. Before we know it, we will be in the thick of the holiday season. While it’s a sweet time for many of us, filled with family visits, gifts wrapped in bows and rich delicious foods, it’s also tough because it’s different from our normal routine in many ways. This includes diet and exercise. It’s good to head into the season with a plan in mind. That way when New Year’s rolls around, hopefully the resolution list won’t be too hefty.

When it comes to the holidays, many events and gifts revolve around food. It starts with candy, and then comes pie pie pie and everything else that goes along with Thanksgiving. This all leads up to Christmas where the tables flood with fudge, homemade cookies, and other goodies. Even if we avoid the sweets, the abundance of food can be attractive. We often overdo it, adding on a few pounds along the way. Because there is still time to think of a good plan to stay happy and healthy over the next few months, fret not.

Paired with some good old-fashioned self-control, enjoy some pre-holiday tips:

Photo taken by Jessie Marchese

Don’t open the Halloween candy for the candy bowl until the night of. We all know what happens when it gets opened early. All of a sudden half the bag is missing. This is the beginning of our battle. Not this year! Oh yes, make sure the last little princess or space man takes the last of the candy with them. Score! Another idea is to take leftovers to the office. Chocolate comes in handy around the office at right about two o’clock when energy levels are low.

Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or are heading to someone else’s home, go for veggies first after you’ve had a glass of water. Don’t add more than a spoonful of each dish, because there are so many. That way you can save some room for the inevitable pie and homemade whipped cream to come. Remember, Thanksgiving leftovers last and last. You will get another round, just not until the next day.

When it comes to traveling, it’s best to be prepared. Buying snacks on the fly in airports or convenience stations costs more, not only financially but also from a calorie standpoint. Pack some of your favorite healthy snacks for the trip. You’ll be glad you did.

Drink plenty of water. When it comes to the holidays, cocktails seem to pop up everywhere. Family brunches with Peach Bellini’s, Carmel Apple Cider, Eggnog, Hot Chocolate and others. It’s easy to forget about boring old water. The thing is, we need the water to keep hydrated and to help flush out all that sugar and salt consumption. Water is also great at tricking you into thinking you are full. A good skinny tip is to drink a glass before every meal. It leaves little room for over-eating.

Find healthy versions of every dish. With the Internet right at our fingertips, we have access to an awfully big selection of fabulous recipes. Tradition is tradition and some dishes must not be altered, but perhaps there are a couple that could be. Instead of heavy creams and butters, maybe some spices and oils could be used for flavor. Perhaps stuffing could be made with veggies, fruit and nuts versus bread. Plan ahead this year, and have your healthy shopping list ready to go before you head for the market.

For those fudge lovers out there, December can be a dangerous month for the diet plan. Thankfully, there are delicious alternatives. One of which I can’t get enough of, no matter what month it is! The recipe I’m about to share is not only made with lighter ingredients, but there are very few needed. In a small saucer or double boiler over low heat, combine a cup of coconut oil, a cup of cacao powder, and a half of a cup of pure maple syrup. Mix until melted and then pour the mix into your favorite truffle molds. You can add in nuts, fruit, mint oil or vanilla oil for variety. Refrigerate and enjoy these melt in your mouth treats with just a little less guilt.

However you celebrate, enjoy the warmth of the holiday season. If possible, keep health in mind; this will keep you feeling your best as the New Year approaches.

Jessie Marchese is a native San Diegan with love for health, wellness and good eats. See her lifestyle blog here: She can be reached at


Writer, painter, hiker, foodie, and lover of all things fabulous! Be sure to check out my lifestyle blog at

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