How do you define Christmas cheer?

True Christmas cheer might have a little more to do with keeping our loved ones around for many more Christmases, than it has to do with the flavor of anything at the Christmas party.

But some of us need healthy eating pep talks, especially during the holiday season.  Can you remember the connection between diabetes, cancer, depression and junk food while someone hands you a platter of homemade, billion-calorie cookies?   Me, neither.

During the holidays, neighborly kindness seems to be synonymous with sugary gifts.  Our family swims in rivers of neighbors’ candies and sweet breads and cheese rolls.

But I  simply can not eat every plate of fudge and fruitcake that someone puts under my nose (although I would like to, in the moment) –but I can’t do it and feel good later.

I can’t afford a personal trainer, but I need some serious health propaganda,  and I have found good pep talks all over the internet to help keep me on the straight and narrow path of eating right and exercising.

Here’s one pep talk I really enjoyed, from the Green Smoothie Girl.

She describes how she deals with the moment when she is swallowing her homemade celery-carrot-beet concoction in the car, and she looks over and sees people diving into juicy cheeseburgers and french fries in the next car over.  She reminds the reader of the longer-term benefits of eating right.

A few minutes after eating, the Green Smoothie girl had “millions of cancer-fighting antioxidant molecules neutralizing, literally, the day’s stresses and exposure to chemicals.”  She had a positive mood and energy a few minutes after lunch, while the cheeseburger and fry-eaters were probably feeling sluggish, bloated, and thirsty.

I also appreciated the healthy Christmas food ideas from Family Fun Magazine, because the ideas are festive and happy looking, but not all made out of sugar!  There are edible Christmas ornament shaped treats that look like frosted sugar cookies, but they’re made of crackers, low-fat cream cheese, and colorful veggies.

There are many websites that offer adorable ways to swap out sugary, rich treats for healthier traditions.  For example, check out the cute holiday cucumber cups with festive herbed hummus inside, for appetizers. Click Here

I also like little ideas like this one, from Katie’s Healthy Bites:  simple ways to cute 100 calories, here and there, during the holiday bustle.  Also Dr. Dean Ornish has his own version of the same idea, with variation, here

Friends, we can do this.  We don’t have to overindulge in holiday sludge.  Ideas abound for ways to go the extra mile to serve ourselves and others healthier choices, and to keep a truer Christmas spirit –keeping our family and friends healthy and happy for many more Christmases to come.

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