As a nutrition coach, I work with clients all the time to help them understand that food has two equally important functions: as a source of energy and as a social, community and cultural phenomenon. To focus on the calories alone is to ignore a huge component of what makes food so preeminent in our lives.
While it is critically important to our long-term health that we eat nutrient-dense foods and essential to a functioning planet that we eat as much local and organic fresh produce and animal product as possible, there is something to be said for eating all the foods we love–even the ones that aren’t so good for us–at least in moderation.
There is no time of year when the social function of food is more important than the holidays. With Thanksgiving just around the corner in the U.S. and Christmas hot on its heels, temptation to indulge in all those “foods we love” is everywhere you turn. One way to dig in to your favorite holiday treats guilt-free is to empower yourself with the knowledge of what it takes to burn off those extra calories with common physical activities.
I’ve compiled a list of three of most folks’ favorite holiday dishes and three corresponding workouts to help you stay on a healthy track from now to the new year.
Delicious Culprit #1: Pumpkin Pie
Nothing says fall flavors and the start of the holiday season like a little warm pumpkin pie. This is my favorite dessert at this time of year. Did you know that just one slice of pumpkin pie without whipped cream has around 300 calories? When I found that out I little spot inside my heart died. The good news for those of you with a sweet tooth like me is that you can scorch those calories in no time. In fact, it’s as easy as riding a bike! All you have to do is hop on your wheels and head out for a 5 mile ride. This translates to about 35 minutes of cycling and, voila, you can call it even!
Delicious Culprit #2: Mashed Potatoes
Most of us try hard to avoid too many starchy foods but when it comes time to build a holiday meal, more often than not potatoes become the base. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of mashed potatoes, but I’m willing to bet many of you are. Just one cup of homemade mashed potatoes, prepared with whole milk and butter comes out to around 250 calories. To burn this comfort food off you’d have to walk at a brisk pace for roughly an hour, covering anywhere from 3-4 miles depending on your stride.
If you like your spuds with gravy, tack on an extra 8-10 minutes of walking. Here’s an idea: why not gather a group of family and friends for a nature walk to get some fresh air and improve digestion post-feast? It might just become a new holiday tradition.
Delicious Culprit #3: Stuffing
Stuffing, made with cranberries and nuts, has about 300 calories per 1 cup serving–and let’s face it, most of us go back for seconds. This traditional and tasty side is often only prepared for Thanksgiving so it’s worth the carb-overload. When it comes down to balancing the scale, try a one-hour (or longer) Power Yoga class. A slow-paced, stretch-focused yoga class won’t fit the bill here so make sure you aim for the kind where you really build up a sweat.
Need a little direction? Try my Fusion Flow class most Sunday mornings on Muuyu. It’s my signature class which brings together the best of yoga, martial arts and plyometrics for a high intensity, mixed movement interval workout. This fun and challenging class is geared towards building strength, power and stability in your body. Fusion Flow will make you sweat, keep you on your toes and leave you feeling the burn.
The bottom line with holiday feasting is that it’s all about making smart choices when you can, not dwelling on a little over-indulgence here and there, and putting your healthy efforts into balancing out the food you eat with the amount of physical activity you ask of your body – that way, when family and food come together in one beautiful space there will be no guilt, just joy and fun!
Amy Rizzotto, RYT-200, is a food and fitness loving blogger, yoga instructor, nutrition coach and studio owner based in Washington, DC. Amy’s passion is looking at the space where yoga and nutrition fuse for optimal athletic performance and overall mind/body wellness. MOAR-fit.com serves as her platform for sharing words of motivation, tasty recipes for health and workout tips. You can learn more about what she’s up to by following her on Facebook, Instagram, PInterest, Twitter and Muuyu.