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Navigating the Holidays Healthfully

by Dr. Shilpa Saxena, Forum Health Tampa

Oh yes…it’s that time of year! A traditional time of overindulgence that begins with Thanksgiving and continues through to the New Year. While we are all for the occasional indulgence, overindulgence can set back your health goals. How does overindulgence present itself for you?

Maybe it starts with not making the time to fit in exercise. Maybe it starts with that first delicious bite of pumpkin pie and carries you through the final toast on New Year’s Eve. However holiday overindulgence shows up for you, there are ways to celebrate without putting strain on your body, mind, and overall health.

It’s no wonder we begin our year with resolutions, right? After 4-5 weeks of being out of our healthy routine, the New Year is the perfect time to get back to being serious about our health. I’m a strong believer in celebrating with family and friends throughout the season, so I follow a few rules to keep myself on track.

Rule #1: You must exercise at least three times per week.  If you’re busy at night with gatherings and events, then dedicate your early mornings to exercise. Even if it’s just a brisk 45 minute walk – you’ve got to make the time to move. Not only is it burning extra calories, it keeps your mood up and helps you to manage stress.

Rule #2: You must be sure to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables throughout your day. This can be a big chopped salad for lunch, raw veggies with hummus as an afternoon snacks, and/ or a small spinach salad with dinner.

Rule #3: When invited to a party, ALWAYS have a small, healthy snack beforehand if you struggle with overeating when you are hungry, or in party settings.

Rule #4: When invited to a party, ALWAYS bring something healthy you can eat. I hear countless times, “There was nothing healthy to eat at the party.” Bringing a healthy dish to share accomplishes three goals, (1) it will ensure that you have something healthy to eat, (2) it will allow you to share a healthy choice with others, since other guests are likely looking for healthier foods and (3) it will take a little pressure off your hostess.

With a little diligence and commitment, we can all make it safely through the holidays which will leave room for us to attack our Resolutions in the New Year!

In the Holiday spirit of sharing, here’s one of our favorite dip recipes that we make at our Healthy Gourmand Nutritionally-Minded Cooking Classes. It’s a Zucchini-Eggplant Caviar that goes perfectly with dipping vegetables or gluten-free crackers. Enjoy!

Zucchini-Eggplant Caviar


  • 2 lbs eggplant, halved
  • 2 lbs zucchini, diced
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush with olive and roast skin side down for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Scoop flesh out and set aside.

2. Add one tablespoon olive oil to a sauté pan. Add shallots and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add in diced zucchini and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Add eggplant into food processor, process for 10 seconds. Add in zucchini mixture and process another 10 seconds. Do not over process – mixture should have some texture. Add in tomatoes, lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy warm or at room temperature. 

Being in control of your choices and, more importantly, making healthy ones is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones this holiday season. Happy Healthy Holiday socializing!