Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Eating with Ease

"Sometimes you just have to take what you're given
and eat it."

Our friend, Jon, who stayed with us recently said this in passing after I'd offered him free reign to some leftovers in my fridge. At first, I was a little bit offended. What was wrong with my leftovers? Nothing, but as a low-budget traveler, this had been his reality for the past 7-8 months. Jon had just spent those last months on the road, as a support driver to two of our other friends, who were walking across America ( to raise awareness about pet therapy and animal rescue.

As I thought about what he'd said more, it dawned on me how much I had to learn from that statement.

First, it brought me to the realization that I am so fortunate and abundant to be able to have access to and to be able to choose very high-quality foods for myself. Not everyone can get there hands on fresh organic produce at all. Many more can not afford it. The good news is that our bodies are miraculous things and know what to do with most of what we give them.

As someone who is constantly trying to be in control of my food - by buying my own ingredients, cooking most of my own meals, and being prepared when I'm out and about - I felt suddenly enlightened, thinking about what Jon said. Especially as I've been struggling over the holidays, when there are handfuls of parties and cookie tins and dinners to attend, and I DON'T have a lot of control over what's in my food as much.

"Sometimes you just have to take what you're given and eat it."

When you're at Grandma's house for the holiday dinner, eat what you want. You don't have to eat everything you're givenIf you're not sure if she used butter or margarine... it is going to kill you? Or, the better question: Is it worth worrying about? Especially during this once a year celebration of family and friends and abundance?

Yes, I think it's important to be good to yourself and listen to when your body is hungry and when it's full and to know what foods make it feel good and what foods make it feel like crap. BUT it's not worth stressing over.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Healthy Holiday Drinking

Fact: Alcohol impairs our judgment. It makes us feel uninhibited.

And it doesn't have discernment about where those effects play out. One of the top triggers for overeating is... those drinks we have before and during the meal or party.

We feel more loose and free, our natural gauges for hunger and satiety get confused, it's easy to lose track of how much we're actually eating or how our body is feeling. Another fact: alcohol numbs us.

Most of us aren't ready to swear off drinking (myself included), but here are some tips to keep your body, digestion, skin and self feeling better while you enjoy:

1. Buffer your alcoholic drinks. Follow each glass of alcohol with a glass of water. I know maybe you've heard this before, but it really works. Make it delicious: get some bubbly water and squeeze in some lime or lemon and a little cocktail mixing straw. Slice in a strawberry. No one even has to know it's non-alcoholic. Stay away from juices, you want to hydrate and replenish your body with water not sugar. Alternate alcohol - water - alcohol - water. And if you sense you don't really want another alcoholic drink, listen to you!

2. Look out for empty calorie sugary drinks and cocktails that will spike your blood sugar and throw off your body's sense of satiety/hunger, energy and your mood.

Dr. Weil recommends these healthy holiday drinks:
  1. Sparkling non-alcoholic punch. The calories can vary, but most holiday punch can easily be diluted with additional sparkling water to reduce calories and sugars. If you are making your own punch at home, use unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate.
  2. Red wine. The antioxidant activity of red wine has been linked to heart health benefits, reduced stress and even preserving memory. Limit yourself to a six-ounce glass; it typically has about 120 calories.
  3. Hot toddy. A combination of lemon, honey, cinnamon, cloves and brandy, this beverage has between 100 and 150 calories and provides some vitamin C thanks to the lemon juice.
  4. Champagne. This celebratory drink has about 90 calories in a four-ounce glass.
Try searching online for "mocktails" that use fresh fruit juice and aren't loaded with sugar - you can make them for a party with the option of adding alcohol as you or your guests would like. You might be surprised how many people would be pleased to know they can enjoy a fresh fancy drink without the added calories and effects of alcohol.

Or try my own Sparkling Chiagria recipe below! Chia helps give your body some fiber and a little dose of anti-inflammatory omega 3's to help you stay feeling balanced and satiated. Plus the fresh pomegranate and lime/lemon juice is full of healthy antioxidants and vitamin C to keep your immune system strong during this season of colds. Wins all around...

Sparkling Chiagria
sparkling or still water
splash of pomegranate juice
squeeze of fresh lime or lemon
1 tsp of chia seeds
red wine, optional

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What to Eat After You've Been BAD

I just came off of a weekend of rich dinners and cheese plates and fried chicken and wine and desserts galore... whew. It started an eating pattern - aka a "falling off the wagon" or "derailing of the train" that I've been feeling really guilty about.

(the most delicious, gourmet, healthy
and hearty thing you can dream up)
I first and foremost want to challenge and reframe (change the frame or perspective) on my own belief that "I was bad." This is all about compassion and realizing that even when it looks like we're self-sabotaging, we're usually just using the coping tools we know work best.

It's holiday time and it's stress time for many of us. My weekend of overeating rich comfort foods, especially chocolate and sweets, is my default way of - very literally - comforting myself, feeling soothed, and getting instant relief and gratification. I was giving myself relief in the way I knew was easy and worked.

At least for that instant... problem is, eating all that stuff made my body feel tired, heavy, swollen, bloated and achy in the joints. Plus guilty. A loud voice in my head kept saying, "There you go again! Can't you control yourself? How are you ever going to fix yourself? Get a grip! Green smoothies and salads for the rest of the week for you!" I wanted to punish myself.

But I know from experience that punishment and guilt wouldn't get me feeling better and back on the path to eating healthy.

So I got up in the morning and listened to my body and my cravings. I wanted tea so I had some tea. When I was hungry, I went to the kitchen to make up some breakfast. I wanted something sweet and rich... oh boy. But I knew, deep down, I wanted to eat something that would make me feel good and that I would know was good for me. I decided it was going to be an epic oatmeal morning. I could have it all: healthy, hearty, rich and with enough sweet to satisfy.

I don't mean to brag, but... I do make epic oatmeal bowls. This morning it was oatmeal cooked with cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of salt. In the bowl, I stirred in half a chopped apple, a spoonful of sunflower seed butter (peanut or almond are so good too!), a drizzle of blackstrap molasses, a handful of granola and a few crumbled walnuts for crunch.

When circumstances feel hard, or you're being hard on yourself, know that it's a signal that it's time to be so good to yourself.

Remember to:   
  1. See yourself with compassion and understanding, you've been doing the best you could.
  2. Give yourself more goodness, not punishment: look ahead toward what you want, not back at what you don't. Make it as good as possible. The key to sustainable healthy eating? You're worth the best stuff out there, you deserve the fixings on your oatmeal, a little butter on your broccoli.
  3. Ask yourself what you really want and need to feel satisfied. Listen to your body and your hungers.What foods and - perhaps more importantly - non-foods, do you need to feel fulfilled?