Bring Some Health to the Holidays in Bergen County

This is a guest post by Robin DeCicco, a holistic nutritionist who runs the Tenafly and Ramsey based The Power of Food Education. She counsels people on making healthier choices and specializes in changing behaviors to achieve life-long success. Her column “A Holistic Nutritionist’s Take On Local Eateries” features her healthy perspective on local dining options.

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The holidays are a time full of gift-giving, family togetherness and tradition – – and, how could I forget, an immense amount of food. Whether its Thanksgiving leftovers, your neighbor’s annual cocktail party or that box of chocolates staring you in the face at work, the temptations are endless.

From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, we are bombarded with buffets, sweet treats, rich and creamy dishes and an overload of alcohol. It’s tough to choose when to indulge and when to be more mindful of the fact that we still have to button our jeans after January 1.

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My advice is to enjoy the holidays. Eat what you absolutely love and look forward to all year-long. Don’t make excuses for eating plates of cheese, loaves of bread and bags of candy – – you can eat these foods year round, so no need to eat like there’s no tomorrow.

Most importantly, the holidays are a time to form new memories with the people we love; so instead of focusing all the attention on the food, let’s start being more mindful of the people around us and the conversations we engage in.

Tips on Staying Healthy Through the Holiday Season

1.) Make a Plan: Decide in your mind about what you will eat before you go to a party, so that you’re not overwhelmed with choices. If it’s a Chanukah party you look forward to, tell yourself you will indulge in the potato pancakes, but will skip out on the doughnuts.

2.) No Soda: Don’t serve soda at your house and don’t drink it at any other house. Soda is a waste of calories and is equivalent to eating dessert and more in terms of sugar content. Drink club soda or water with lemon and lime.

3.) Veggie Alert: Start every meal with a salad or a few vegetables to try to fill up on low-calorie foods before you start eating the fattier foods. This will help you to eat less of the foods that follow.

4.) Eat Before: Not eating before an event is the biggest mistake we make. It’s better to eat small meals throughout the day and to never show up to a gathering famished. Make sure to eat nuts, low-fat greek yogurt or hummus before a party to curb your appetite.

5.) Cook It Yourself: Offer to make one dish and bring with you to a holiday so you know that there is at least one healthy dish. Make a veggie-heavy dish like ratatouille, a beet salad or a Mediterranean salad.

6.) Bring Health: If you don’t have time to cook, pick up a prepared dish from your local farmer’s market or health food store that is unique. People will appreciate the gesture and foods like okra, quinoa and cacao are definite conversation starters.

If you’re hosting a holiday this year and are looking to serve some healthier pre-made dishes to add to your spread, check out menus from the following caterers in the area:

Market Basket– Offers a selection of sushi made with brown rice, squash medleys and many salads – Franklin Lakes, Website
Two Brothers Catering – Prepared vegan and vegetarian meals, like black bean chile, lentil salad, sesame noodles and stuffed mushrooms from a culinary chef – Northern NJ, Website
Eva’s Fresh – Having a lunch office holiday party or some friends over to celebrate the season? Eva uses all organic and local produce to make her super healthy meals- Bergen County, Website
Kevin’s Thyme – Everything is prepared from scratch at this award-winning restaurant that has a diversified catering menu including broccoli rabe, orzo avocado tomato salad and a wheatberry salad with feta- Ho-Ho-Kus, Website
Rustic Food Custom Catering– Individualized kosher, heart-healthy and vegetarian menus can be created for your next event- Clifton, Website
Who’s Got Thyme Lebet Catering – In addition to a full catering menu, the Healthy Thyme menu offers healthier frozen meals if you want to fool your guests into thinking you cooked. These meals are lower in sodium and portioned appropriately. Meals include turkey with white bean spinach ragout, whole wheat pasta and minestrone soup- Fair Lawn, Website

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