picThe holiday season is upon us and I love this time of year. Yet, I am still trying to figure out if it’s because I love making the cookies or if it’s because I love eating the cookies. Regardless, the temptations of the season are many and much like a monetary budget, it’s imperative to have a calorie one too.
Figuring out my calorie needs can be simplified by logging onto Fitday.com. I recommend exploring this site and to keep in mind these top 5 holiday health tips to help you stick to a calorie budget.
1.       Eat like your ancestors
This doesn’t mean that you should eat your Grandma’s famous pie for every meal but, more importantly, try to imagine what your ancestors were offered and eating in their youth. I could easily guess it wasn’t a high fiber granola bar that was full of HFCS. I imagine they were offered foods in their whole and natural form and if fortunate enough they were offered foods coming from all food groups. At each meal and snack you want a little bit of fat, protein and carbohydrate. Combinations of these macronutrients improve the efficiency of your metabolism. Also, protein doesn’t always have to be in the form of meat. Try swapping out beef, poultry, chicken or pork with beans, legumes, seeds or nuts throughout the week. 
2.       Hydration
Water does wonders! Drink it, don’t leave home without it and chug it even when you don’t feel thirsty. Drinking water will make you feel good, especially when you swap it in for other beverages like regular or diet cola. One important thing about drinking enough water is that hunger can often be mistaken for thirst. Drink a glass of water with every meal and always have a glass or bottle near by. Make it a habit to always have a glass of water on your desk and nightstand to sneak in a few sips here and there. 
3.       Social butterfly
Engage in the social scene to keep yourself moving and motivated. The friendships made along the way can enrich your days and improve your health. Life should be a mixture of work, life and balance and therefore, we should work hard and play hard by making personal schedules that capture everything from grocery shopping to stretching at the gym. Your relationships can serve as support when you need a healthy push. Friends and family may notice your energy and perhaps your successful weight loss (if that is a goal). Socializing can help us buffer daily stress and more. Mingle away my little butterfly.
4.       Try something new
Spare some time to shop and to also add something new like a gym class to your weekly routine. For example, I rarely participate in one of the offered free classes at my gym but these winter months I am dedicating my Tuesday nights to Boot Camp. Yes, I am nervous but I think I will be pleased in the long run.
5.       Learn the enjoyment of “minding” your own business
How was your dinner last night? Do you recall how it tasted and felt in your mouth? What were the aromas like? If you are like most Americans, you probably don’t recall much. Eating and doing things mindfully can really change your outlook on life, your health and wellbeing. Make an effort this holiday to enjoy one another’s company and the lovely foods you are presented with in your home and at gatherings. Eat evenly throughout the day (every 4 hours or so) and really enjoy the delicious flavors in each meal and snack.
So throughout the holiday season, have a great time and try your best to steer away from the stress or manage it in the healthiest way possible. Below I’ve included a nutrient rich recipe that will serve as a great side dish. 
Happy and healthy holidays!
Sweet Potato Chips
2 large sweet potatoes w/ peel
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon of cinnamon
*1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the 2 sweet potatoes and begin slicing them in the diamond shape of potato chips. Lay the slices of sweet potato on a baking sheet and sprinkle a little bit of the extra virgin olive oil on top. Next lightly sprinkle on the cinnamon and sea salt.
Bake for 30-40 minutes and serve.
*Note the recipe specifically calls for unrefined sea salt. Unrefined salt has dozens of minerals that are not present in ordinary table salt.