Tag Archives: Holiday Season

Whole Grains Month

Whole Grains Month

It’s Whole Grains Month, and we can help you make hearty and cozy meals this fall with healthy whole-grain recipes.

First, learn about your favorite grains and how to cook them.

Cooking Grains
Image via Berkeley Wellness

 

Throw together these Vegan Whole-Grain Spelt Waffles for a guilt-free brunch.

Vegan Whole Grain Spelt Waffles.

 

Your lunch is covered with these 50+ Gorgeous Grain Salads


Image and recipe via Popsugar

 

Wow the family this holiday season with these beautiful Whole-Grain Oat Rolls.

Whole Grain Oat Rolls

 

This Blueberry Oatmeal Bread is sure to be a hit for breakfast or dessert.

Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

 

Need a weekend baking project? Try this Homemade Multigrain Sandwich Bread.

Homemade Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread
Image and Recipe via Whole and Heavenly Oven

 

This Healthy Barley Soup is a hearty soup perfect for your next rainy or sick day.

Healthy Barley Soup Recipe

Holiday Cookie Eating

Chasing Health: My Ho-Ho-Horrible Holiday Eating & Exercise Habits

I love the holiday season. In the fall and early winter, it seems like there is something special to celebrate nearly every other week. The list goes on and on, and I can’t get enough of it.

As a holiday enthusiast, I appreciate it all, from decorating, baking, and gift-buying to curling up and watching holiday-themed movies, not to mention mouth-watering smells, twinkling lights, and feeling like you’re in a magical snow globe at the first sight of flurries. Seems innocent enough, right?

Well, when I’m not watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Home Alone 2 for the 80th time, tearing up when “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” comes on the radio, or obsessing over the placement of ornaments on my tree (perfectionism strikes again), you can probably find me eating all the delicious holiday goodies that come along this time of year.

On top of turkey, ham, and the wide selection of casseroles, you get fudge, cookies, cheeseball, cheese dips, and pretty much any other finger food you can imagine. It’s amazing.

This is the time of year a lot of people take a break from their diets and indulge. It’s also the time of year when the days are short and cold, and your couch and TV seem to call your name the minute you walk through your door. (“Nicole, come catch up on The Walking Dead for the next five hours. I already set out your favorite blanket.”) It’s not a good combination.

But there is hope. Whether you overeat because your stress from the holiday grind has reached Clark Griswold level or (like me) you’ve waited all year for your mom’s chocolate crinkle cookies, you don’t have to put your healthy eating and exercise on hold.

I realize it’s hard to control yourself when you’re surrounded by fabulous snacks in every direction. I go into my family’s celebration with the same strategy every year, and it’s not a healthy one.

On Christmas Eve, I skip breakfast, make ham-and-cheese pinwheels (my decade-and-a-half-long contribution to our family’s party), nibble on the ones that don’t quite make the cut, and consider that my lunch.

An hour or two later when I’m extra hungry from skipping two meals, I help my mom set out all our delicious cookies. I’m an expert in taste-testing.

Cookie pic 2
My mom is in charge of chocolate crinkles (my all-time favorite!), peanut butter, and molasses. I’m in charge of the iced sugar cookies.

Once my aunt’s cheeseball and grandma’s fudge arrive, it’s game over. I’m usually not even hungry by the time my dad’s secret-recipe glazed ham is ready. But I somehow rally like a true holiday-eating champion and get through that meal and an equally delicious meal the next day with the other side of my family.

How does the two-day affair almost always end? With a stomachache and a tinge of regret.

Here is the fabulous spread of delicious goodies. Notice the salad and bowl of oranges. Not everything is unhealthy! Full disclosure, I skip right over both of those.
Here is the fabulous spread of delicious goodies. Notice the salad and bowl of oranges. Not everything is unhealthy! Full disclosure, I skip right over both of those.

Holidays don’t have to end in stomachaches or regret. Here are some tips based on my own worst holiday habits to help you stay on track this holiday season.

  • Don’t cut back on sleep before the big celebration. I like to stay up late any chance I get, whether there’s a special occasion or I’m just watching Netflix by myself. I’m no better than the millions of kids staying up to wait for Santa. But research shows that not getting enough sleep can make you crave the not-so-healthy foods, which isn’t good when the not-so-healthy foods are everywhere.
  • Don’t skip meals to overeat at the party later. Sometimes I think skipping breakfast and lunch gives me a free pass to fill my body with chocolate. It doesn’t. It not only puts me in the wrong mindset, but an Ohio State study suggests that doing this regularly can also affect how your body gains belly fat.
  • Don’t stand around the snack table. This is my favorite place to camp out for the afternoon, but it makes snacking a little too convenient. I probably don’t need a 10th piece of fudge, but who’s counting? (This brings me to my next point.)
  • Keep track of what you’re eating. I started tracking what I eat at the beginning of December as part of a headache diary for my migraines, and my snacking has fallen way off since then. I can only imagine how much this tracking system will help me through the holidays. Any kind of food diary can help you see how healthy or unhealthy your eating habits are.
  • Eat something healthy. Sadly, despite what Buddy the Elf tells us, the main food groups are not “candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.” Mix some fruits and veggies into your holiday meals and snacking options, and eat the unhealthier options in moderation.
  • Keep yourself busy with something other than food. Play games (my brother and I are quite the Catch Phrase duo) or set up a tournament. My cousins and I have hosted all kinds of championship events, everything from table tennis to Guitar Hero to rock-paper-scissors (we must have been feeling either really bored or hyper-competitive that year). The more physically active and farther from the food, the better.
  • Keep up your exercise routine (or something close to it). If you fall off, don’t feel discouraged (and don’t eat more cookies to console yourself). Just start exercising again. It’s easy to make excuses, but if you’re like me, you’ll feel better physically and mentally if you don’t ditch the physical activity.

I hope to follow at least some of these tips this holiday season and hope you do, too. I’ve already tried pretending celery is chocolate. It didn’t go so well, but I have high hopes for these other more reasonable tips.

Happy holidays!

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Featuring Pear Recipes

Healthy Pear Recipes

This week we featured wonderful wintery, pear recipes to help you make the most of the fruit while it’s in season.

Pear Chutney Bruschetta with Pecans and Blue Cheese makes the perfect, rich holiday appetizer.

Pear Chutney Bruschetta with Pecans and Blue Cheese

 

Baked Pears with Walnuts and Honey are a delicious and healthy dessert, which also looks beautiful.

Baked Pears with Walnuts and Honey

 

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Pears and Brie are the perfect winter meal for the holidays.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Pears and Brie

Skinnytaste Stuffed Chicken Breast with Pears and Brie Recipe

 

This quick and easy Honey Pear Bread is a wonderful way to kick off your weekend.

Honey Pear Bread

 

Pear Sauce made from the in-season fruit is a great substitute for your kids’ favorite apple sauce.

Easy Pear Sauce

 

Cinnamon Pork Chops with Spiced Pears perfectly balances sweet and savory flavors.

Cinnamon Pork Chops with Spiced Pears
Image and Recipe via Favorite Family Recipes

 

Make this Spiced Pear Baked Oatmeal for a hearty holiday breakfast.

Pear Baked Oatmeal
Image and Recipe via Oh My Veggies

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Happy Kids from Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Safe Toys and Gifts Month

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, so we had tips each day to keep the little ones in your life safe this holiday season.

Make sure you check all of the gifts your kids get for age, skill level, and developmental level before they play with them.

Right Gift for the Right Age

 

Look for toy labels that say ASTM, which means it met the American Society for Testing and Materials safety standards.

Toy Labels

 

If you give sports equipment, give protective gear with it, like a skateboard with a helmet.

Safety with Sports Gear

 

AblePlay can help you choose toys that appeal to different senses like sound, movement, and texture with research and reviews.

Smart and Safe Gifts for Kids

 

Be careful with balloons, which kids can choke or suffocate on when they break and deflate.

Playing with Balloons Safely

 

Throw away plastic wrapping after gifts are opened, which can be a dangerous for little ones.

Always supervise battery charging and read the warnings on chargers to prevent burns or electric shock.

Supervision When Needed

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Wonderful World of Beet Recipes

Healthy Beet Recipes

This week in food, we featured versatile, in-season beet recipes, with both sweet and savory dishes.

First up is a Beet, Arugula, and Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese that is an adult take on the comfort food.

Beet, Arugula, and Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese
Image and Recipe via BS in the Kitchen

 

These Beet and Avocado Deviled Eggs are perfect for the holiday season, and completely guilt-free.

Beet and Avocado Deviled Eggs

 

Oven Baked Beet Chips are a great healthy, salty snack to make ahead.

Oven Baked Beet Chips
Image and Recipe via A Spicy Perspective

 

Make this Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting for a beautiful, healthy dessert.

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Roasted Beet Hummus is the perfect eye-catching appetizer for your holiday get-togethers.

Roasted Beet Hummus

 

Beet Crust Pizza is a clever way to work veggies into a homemade version of takeout.

Beet Crust Pizza
Image and Recipe via Bakers Royale

 

Beet Sorbet is a unique dessert that will wow your holiday guests.

Carrot and Beet Sorbet

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Fight Caregiver Fatigue

Long View: Nobody Is an Island – Recognizing and Addressing Caregiver Fatigue

The holidays are supposed to be a time for family gatherings, parties, traveling, and opportunities to laugh and relax with the ones you love. For some, though, the holidays have different associations, like stress, anxiety, and isolation.

Caregivers can often feel stressed during the holiday season. While others are enjoying this time of year, caregivers may feel isolated as they focus on the care of a loved one. Caregivers selflessly provide around-the-clock, unpaid care to seniors and people with disabilities. They are tasked with accompanying their loved one to medical appointments, managing their medications, and handling their financial affairs, all while balancing their own obligations.

Caregivers also often overlook their own mental, emotional, and physical health. As a result, they can feel a sense of isolation, like they’re alone on an island. This feeling is called caregiver fatigue.

Mitchell Forrest, a social worker at Central Illinois Agency on Aging in Peoria, provided insight into caregiver fatigue. “Caregivers who feel a sense of hopelessness, are socially withdrawn, not sleeping, and experiencing illness and weight loss, may be suffering from caregiver fatigue and should seek out supports to help them manage their stress,” he said.

If left untreated, caregiver fatigue can take such a physical and mental toll that they can no longer care for their loved one.

But caregivers can find a network of encouragement through support groups. National organizations, like the Alzheimer’s Association, offer local support groups for caregivers of people with different diagnoses.

Respite services can be another vital resource. For a fee, nursing homes and adult day services offer a safe, supportive environment where the loved one will be in trusted hands for a few hours or longer, so the caregiver can rest. In-home personal aides can also provide additional assistance to the caregiver.

While no resource is a remedy for the anxiety of caring for a sick loved one, caregivers should know that they are not alone. Talking to someone is invaluable, and there are many counselors who specialize in the needs of caregivers.

Area Agencies on Aging offer resources and referrals to support seniors, people with disabilities, and their caregivers. If you feel alone on the island, send a signal and help will find you.

Chris Maxeiner is a community liaison with Health Alliance. His background is in the fields of healthcare and government programs. His favorite superhero is Batman, and he is an avid Chicago sports fan (Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox).

GERD Awareness Week

GERD Awareness Week

This week is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD Awareness Week. Do you have chronic heartburn?

Heartburn Sufferers

 

Regular acid reflux and heartburn are the most common symptoms of GERD. Learn more.

Burning Pain

 

GERD could be affecting you, and it has costs.

The Costs of GERD

 

How can you control GERD this holiday season?

Controlling GERD for the Holidays

 

GERD can impact your health in many ways, including sleep. Learn more.

GERD and Sleep

 

GERD is a disease. It’s not caused by your lifestyle. Learn about living with it.

There are a variety of options to help treat your GERD. Talk to your doctor at your next appointment.

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