Chef Brad Petersen
Brad Petersen

The holiday season has arrived, and it can be the best and worst time of the year.

It's the best time of the year because of the memories and fun and, of course, all the amazing and wonderful food we get to prepare and eat

It becomes the worst time of the year because of all the stuff we eat and hte weight we seem to gain. It is not uncommon to put on an extra 10 to 20 pounds during the holiday season.

I love the holiday season and look forward to it all year long because of the food. Life is all about food, and the holidays are a perfect example of how important food can be to us in our traditions and lives.

With all the parties, activities, family events, concerts, church activities and more, how do we keep a balance in the mad food rush?

After our holiday stuffing, the suffering begins in January. We all start out our New Year's resolutions with goals to get back into shape by eating less or joining the health club, only to fall short a few months later.

Oh, how nice it would be to be able to drop the pounds as easy as it was to put them on.

I have put much thought into the "holiday-free-for-all, eat-it-all and pay-later" life we live. It really can be quite simple.

For most of the year we practice poor self-control over the foods we eat, and then we add more food during the holidays, which hurts us. I have found that if we eat in moderation and practice healthful eating habits all year long, we can pass through the holidays with hardly any problems.

However, if you haven't been good all year, I would like to share some practical helpful holidays hints to get you through the season without a lot of weight gain. Let's face it, uncontrolled eating tends to put a damper on the fun.

Eat a lot of whole grains. Start the day with a hot whole grain cereal, not just oatmeal. Dress it up by adding other grains, like amaranth or teff, which are available at the local health food store. There are also some great nine-grain or other whole grains cereals that will give you a head start to begin your day.

Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. If we are eating more of the right foods during the day, such as fruits and vegetables, our bodies can handle sugar better. Fruits, vegetables and grains keep us clean on the inside, and they help the body flush bad fat.

Eat foods high in fiber such as grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. If we eat healthful food, we have a lesser craving for foods high in sugar, and when we eat foods high in fiber they will help cleanse the body.

Drink a lot of water. Water keeps the body in balance and helps keep us clean inside. When we eat a lot of sugar, it is hard on our organs. We need to make sure we are drinking enough water to keep things from clogging up.

Water is so important, and especially since we are drinking a lot of other beverages during the holidays, it is even more important that we don't forget to drink water.

Practice the 80/20 principle. Eat 80 percent healthful during the day and then enjoy the 20 percent of whatever you want. The problem is we eat just the opposite — 80 percent or worse and than make a stab at eating something good, like an apple, and think we are OK.

If the majority of food we eat is good for us, it is amazing how our bodies can handle some of the things we really love.

Enjoy all the foods you eat. We are so blessed to have so much food to choose from. As we practice moderation in all things, including the food we eat, we will find greater joy and enjoyment in food.

May we have a joyous food-filled holiday season, and may it not be filled with regrets over the foods we should not have eaten. As we practice some simple principles, we can have great joy during the holidays and all year long.

Chef Brad Petersen is a leading authority on grains and nutrition. Chef Brad is passionate about food and the power good food has to create lasting memories and bind family and friends together.