Thursday, November 13, 2014

Celebrating with Clean Food : 7 Tips

Welcome to the latest installment in the Healthy for the Holidays series! I'm so thankful you're here - and I'm really excited about the opportunity to introduce you to some of the wellness industry's top experts, wellness enthusiasts and health warriors, as well as share what I've learned through my own research and experience! The goal of the series is to provide you with information that will allow you to make this holiday season the healthiest ever! Check back every Monday and Thursday in the coming weeks for brand new, original content.

We're coming up on Thanksgiving soon - and I am super excited! I love the holiday for many reasons - it's a day that we get to celebrate everything we have to be thankful for, a day to spend with those nearest and dearest to us, a day to watch football, and of course, a day to enjoy some great FOOD :)

It seems like Thanksgiving is always the day that starts sending folks into downward spirals of holiday over-indulgence and I want to explore that on the blog today. 

Now, please do not even get close to misinterpreting me here…. I LOVE food. I love good food. I love occasional decadence and I love celebrating with food. But, I've learned over the years how important it is to emphasis the word "occasional." 

"Ocasional" means once a year. 

If I have pumpkin pie once a year, it's fine. It's really not going to make that big a difference to my health (as long as it's gluten-free, for me). But, if I use "the season" as an excuse to have pumpkin pie every day between Halloween and New Years Day, that's an entirely different story! 

I'm sure you get my drift. 

So, here 7 things I've learned about how to celebrate with food, clean eating style (clean eating = dishes prepared with healthy, natural, minimally processed ingredients), during the holidays:

1. Never show up to a holiday party hungry - or thirsty. If you do, you'll reach for the cheese ball and eggnog faster than you can say "Merry Christmas." Try to eat a healthy snack with both fiber and protein about 20 minutes before you leave for the party and drink a full glass of water. My "go to" choices are apple halves with a little bit of almond butter and cinnamon. I also take my Lifefactory water bottle with me wherever I go and keep it in the car, so I'm not tempted to satisfy my thirst with high-calorie holiday drinks. 

2. Make a list of which recipes/foods are "the most important" for you to have "full." Full fat, full calories, full sugar. You name it. Whittle it down to your one or two "must have" indulgences. For me, it's pumpkin pie and peppermint mochas. Indulge in your favorites, when it makes sense, without guilt, fear or shame. Enjoy them! Savor each bite! Don't think one second about them after you're done. But, be diligent and keep that list super super short. 

3. After you have the list in #2, find healthy substitutes for the other recipes on your list. Pinterest is definitely your friend during the holiday season - you can type "clean eating recipe for ____" and fill in the blank with just about anything you can imagine! You'll find awesome recipes you can try and you might surprise yourself with how many you actually like BETTER than the originals. 

4. Start a gratitude journal. Science shows that when we're focused on what we're grateful for, we're less likely to overindulge. I've noticed a huge difference in my behavior around food when I'm actively writing in my gratitude journal every day. I'm way more likely to resist my holiday weaknesses when I've been focused on the fact that I'm already satisfied with so many blessings. 

5. Be mindful of your stress triggers. Before the busy rush of the holiday really gets going, take a minute to write down what things are most likely to stress you out in the next couple of months. For me, it's always an overly busy schedule that sends me straight to the gluten-free cupcake freezer at Whole Foods. I am very careful to plan out my holiday schedule and make sure I don't get too busy. When I'm keeping my schedule in check, I'm much more likely to stick to my clean eating plans. If I don't, I'm much more likely to overindulge. 

6. Find a clean eating buddy. It's so hard to resist over eating and all the holiday goodies - particularly when you feel like everyone around you is eating whatever they want! It's so nice to know you're not the only one working hard to maintain your health during the holidays. Clean eating buddies support each other through whatever contact method(s) work best - phone, text, email, Facebook - anything goes! The goal is to keep each other accountable and provide mutual support to reach healthy holiday goals. I believe so strongly in this that I'm more than happy to find anyone who wants one a clean eating buddy for this season. Either comment below or shoot me an email and I'll hook you up. 

7. Exercise. Even if it's just a 20-minute walk, or some snow shoveling, or a quick BeachBody workout DVD, any type of movement will help keep your blood sugar stable and help keep your stress levels down. All of which will help you avoid those sugary, fatty holiday treat pitfalls. 

My hope and prayer is that, by following these tips, you'll have the healthiest, happiest, cleanest holiday season EVER :)

Love and hugs from NJ.

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