At this point in the year, most people let themselves enjoy the holidays with a future reservation to "get healthier" or lose weight after the new year. Yet, the reality is that health is cumulative, and not supposed to be a drastic effort to lose weight that you will later gain; or gain weight that you will later lose. And, the time to do things (if you are serious and legitimate) is NOW, always.
In the best case, we could share our healthier foods and recipes with our families, friends and coworkers throughout the holidays, creating a more balanced approach to wellness. Or even better, they would bring the healthy yet delicious food, and we could just enjoy knowing it's literally "all good". Then, carry on the progress through the new year and into 2019.
We're also coming upon 2020, which for me symbolizes clarity in vision, seeing with eyes wide open, 20-20, no distortions, and finding and living in full truth and integrity. Most of us are aware that food and nutrition affects our health (and weight), and is something that impacts our overall life goals. So why not get this conversation started?
In this post, I'd like to share some thoughts and strategies that you can nibble on throughout the next couple months, leading up to the new year. I will surely be thinking about specific recipes I can share that may also give you practical and concrete information and solutions. Though starting with a realization, desire and committment to making this a healthier holiday is key. Enticing healthy recipes will appear thanks to the prolific health and nutrition social media scene. I don't feel particularly obligated to help you plan your thanksgiving or christmas meal, rather I'd like to give you some inspiration and thought process which enables a successful and healthy 2019.
This holiday I'd like to share the gift of health inspiration, motivation and integration of a definitive committment and route to better health. So here are a few overarching, semi-obvious, yet not always implemented suggestions that may sound trite, and still be novel for you and your loved ones. I try to present things in a way that hits home.
My top six holiday tips follow...
Holiday Tip # 1 Plan ahead. Identify where you most want to "splurge" on calories, or favorite holiday foods; and identify where you can cut out the stuff you don't really care about. Can you cut out the muffin at Starbucks, but still enjoy a holiday party? Do you need the full amount of pumpkin spice syrup in your latte, or can you order just half? Do you care about munching on mediocre work party foods, and prefer to 'save up' for your aunt's amazing lasagne? Do you care about alcohol, and if not, let it go. Could you grab a salad instead of a sandwich for lunch on a day when you know you're going to have an indulgent dinner or dessert. Basically, let go or reduce whatever unhealthy foods you won't seriously miss, to allow yourself the food pleasures that are truly special to you. This takes some mental and sometimes physical preparation. For instance, maybe you can bring a delicious fruit salad to a work party, rather than another sugary glutenous baked good. Hereby, giving you some wiggle room for some food or party that you really do care about. Options on how to do this abound, but how about starting each day with a low sugar smoothie for breakfast? Let this last through the holidays and beyond! Here's a link to a low sugar green smoothie video I made.
Holiday Tip # 2 Keep food records. I've been a licensed dietitian and nutritionist for close to 20 years, and in my experience, nothing keeps a person more honest than a committment to log it. You can use a traditional journal, or use "My fitness pal" or another food logging app. Whatever works for you! I think the message here is that ignorance is NOT bliss. We all have the tendency to underestimate how much we eat, and the caloric impact. So logging the type of food and quanitity helps us to not be ignorant. You still get to decide what to eat, but you do it with eyes wide open, moving us back to the 20-20 (vision) and truth theme.
Holiday Tip # 3 Find healthier recipes. Start now. Pin it, print it, or share it. Whatever works for YOU! If you have a family recipe, can you make a few small changes to make it healthier? Can you cut the sugar, butter, or add some herbs to transition it to a healthier version that will support your health progression as a family? Think of herbs and spices like fresh mint, ginger, garlic, sage, parsley, lemon, citrus, etc. A little sausage or bacon is OK, but where can you make healthy yet delicious changes to classic recipes? Maybe it's a cranberry mint sparkling beverage or a fresh fruit and nut dessert. Stay connected with me through Instagram, Pinterest, or my email list to receive recipes I like. Oh, heck, here's a video to a raw mango pie I made for several thanksgivings. It's been a hit and is super simple, too.
Holiday Tip # 4 Portion control. Okay, this is such an overstated item but the truth is the truth. If you can just enjoy a couple small bites of something deliciously indulgent, rather than a plateful, you're good! You can be successful at this strategy by really and truly enjoying the entire bite, from start to finish. Savor the flavor, suck on it, don't collect the next bite on your fork, while devouring the current bite. It's a form of meditation or "mindful eating" which will allow you maximum pleasure for minimal damage and caloric intake. Just enjoy each bite fully, and you will not need excessive amounts. It's easier said than done, but it is not difficult either.
Holiday Tip # 5 Live and eat in a state of gratitude. So this is a bit spirtual in nature, but nothing will help you savor the flavor and enjoy less, but more, than truly feeling thankful to whatever plant or animal died for your delight. I keenly remember a Christmas which I hosted and served lamb. I overate, and ended up feeling nauseous (and eventually vomitted) due to overeating lamb. I felt repugnant for eating so much of an animal without giving gratitude while eating. How can YOU flip the switch and give thanks for a couple of delicious and conciously enjoyed bites of (whatever it is), in which no life is wasted or taken for granted. When you do this, nothing extra goes to your waist either. No waste of a life, nor excess on your waist- sounds like a sustainability plan we can all benefit from. You can't fact check this tip. But it's real. When you eat and live in a state of gratitude, it's really hard to overeat. It just doesn't feel right. Don't take my word for it, try it yourself!
Holiday Tip # 6 Overeating is a slippery slope, don't take that plunge! Once you break your pledge to having a healthier holiday season, it's much more easy to continue. It could be guilt, gluttony, or a sort of denial. But suffice to say that the more you can stick to it, the more successful you will be. This is all about fulfilling your own goals, having integrity and the fortitude to not let one minor mistake overwhelm you, or cause you to say "ef it all". Nutrition is not about perfection, nor is anything else. It's about consistency, integrity to yourself, and a goal you can see. Is that goal being slimmer and feeling sexier, healthier? Or is it showing your children or your loved ones that it can be done? Whichever, no matter, they are ALL good reasons to stick to your promise to yourself. Don't abandon yourself this holiday season. Enjoy it. Love it. Own it. And be ready to move into 2019 with a stronger code of ethics when it comes to respecting your body through food. If you made it through this article, you definitely "got this".
With love and a passion for healthier living,
Rachael, the RD (registered dietitian) representing the "Raw Truth"