For everyone, December is emotionally and financially stressful. For couples struggling with infertility, this time of year can be especially difficult. How are you holding up? If your calendar is filling up with social events, life feels unbearably busy, and you are navigating complicated relationship and family dynamics, hold on tight, you are not alone.
The stress of the holiday season can wreak havoc on your health. Take a few minutes this weekend to look at your calendar and commit to taking care of yourself, and your reproductive health, amid the glut of seasonal obligations. With the flu bug hanging around, it is particularly important to stay well rested, well hydrated and well nourished. A little planning can go a long way toward having a manageable, low stress holiday season.
Here are some practical tips to help make holiday eating both healthier and less stressful:
Plan: Save time and energy by making a shopping list that considers several dinners, lunches and breakfasts as well as a simple dish to bring to any upcoming party. The busier life gets, the easier it is to resort to eating out and grabbing food on the run. Plan to eat at home whenever possible and make sure there are staples in the fridge and the cupboard so that you can throw together a quick meal if time is running short.
Don’t forget about the basics: Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget to do the basic things that keep us healthy, happy, and grounded. We find ourselves justifying eating on the run and skipping a yoga or a fitness class in the name of preparing for the holidays. Busyness isn’t a good reason to eat a dinner of hors d’oeuvres from the office Christmas party. Try to keep shopping and eating regular meals and snacks. Eating a small meal before the Christmas party will help you make wise choices when you are there.
If you plan ahead to those busy days and have something quick and easy to prepare, it will be easier to honor regular meals and snacks. Tis’ the season to make use of bagged salads and pre-cut veggies. Simplify your cooking during busy times. Here are some quick ideas:
- Bean burrito –wrap, heated refried beans, jarred salsa, diced peppers, tomatoes and shredded lettuce
- Bagged salad with chick peas and feta cheese added
- Avocado toast topped with a poached egg
- Pasta and tomato sauce. Add cut up veggies to a jarred sauce and whole grain pasta
- Soup and a sandwich
- Vegetable omelet
A quick utility meal will not only provide you with a variety of nutrients, it can also ward off the urge to eat the whole wheel of brie at the party.
Have a few favorite easy recipes on hand for parties: Make a commitment to bring something nutritious to any parties you attend this season. Here are some ideas:
- A seasonal fruit tray: include mandarin oranges, blood oranges and chunks of pomegranate along with classic favorites like tropical fruits and grapes.
- Veggies with a bean dip. For a sophisticated party, place a teaspoon of bean dip on the end of purple endive leaves. If pressed for time, pick up a pre-made bean dip.
- Antipasto served with crispy baked pita triangles or Melba toasts.
Here is the recipe for my go to Christmas party dish, Festive Guacamole. Beautiful looking, rich in healthy fats and antioxidants, this dish is quick and easy to make and you can feel good about eating it.
Be prepared for Christmas Dinner: For most families, turkey and stuffing are the season’s tradition. This year, pair the turkey with a whole lot of simple but delicious vegetable dishes. With all the rich colours and diverse flavours, no one will feel the need to drown the plate in gravy. Plan to offer a couple of marinated vegetable salads or a fresh green salad that you can make ahead for easy meal prep the day of the big meal. Keep the vegetables simple and aim for three or four different coloured dishes. Here are some ideas:
- Diced beets
- Whole roasted yams,
- Roasted nugget potatoes,
- Green beans,
- Broccolini or Broccoli Rabe
- Spinach salad in a vinaigrette, peppered with festive pomegranate seeds,
- A variety of roasted squash,
- Romaine salad in a vinaigrette with pecans, red onions and mandarin oranges.
Go easy on holiday desserts: Be selective about holiday baking. Make your favorites and put them in the freezer until you need them. Add nuts and vibrant holiday fruits to trays of sweets; rings of mandarins and blood oranges, sliced red pears, and chunks of pomegranate.