6 Ways To Indulge While Staying Healthy
Let’s face it… we are probably going to eat one more Christmas cookie or one extra piece of Hanukkah gelt than we normally would, but that’s OKAY.
For years, I strived for ‘perfect health.’ One holiday season, I opted to stay home while my family congregated together to celebrate the season. I stayed home because I didn’t want to be tempted by food. I cooked for myself, by myself, and somehow convinced myself I was being ‘healthy’.
Your mind plays an intricate role in your overall health, and if you stress out about your food, the stress alone can cause weight gain and other health issues. Relax, enjoy, and find pleasure this holiday season. (HINT: Eating until you can’t move is not pleasure in my opinion.) Be kind to your body, which means neither depriving nor over-indulging.
Here’s a personal story: The other night, I asked my partner what he desired most for the holidays. He told me that his ultimate longing was for these German cookies called ‘Lebkuchen’ that he hadn’t had since he was a child. He’s German, and growing up his Grandmother would prepare this annual gingerbread treat for the kids and the family at Christmas. It was a celebration. A joyous event filled with love. Apparently, these cookies are only available during the holiday time, so they are rare and special. I asked him why he doesn’t have one, and he told me they were SO unhealthy and he would never eat them. So I asked him… ‘But you want one, yes?’ His entire being lit up. Of COURSE he wanted one! I suggested he approach the situation differently. Just because something is unhealthy for you doesn’t mean you should never eat it. It is your choice what you put into your body. That being said, M&M’s don’t necessarily hold sentimental value. He surprised me the next day with a cookie and tea waiting for me when I arrived home from a long day of work. We dimmed the lights, lit a candle, and savored the amazing treat. It was a very healthy experience. No guilt. No shame. No self-sabotage. That, in my opinion, is health. It is balance. No extremes. The cookie was delicious, by the way.
Here are 6 ways to prevent post-holiday guilt:
- Instead of giving all of your energy to your food intake this holiday season, I encourage you to also receive nourishment from your family, friends, and loved ones. Connect. Share. Laugh. Play. Reminisce. Becoming too involved and obsessed with ‘eating only nutritious foods’ is unhealthy in itself when it takes away from other important life activities.
- Chew well, and savor the comfort foods with a smile on your face. Don’t over-do it. Don’t under-do it either. It’s not worth it to completely sacrifice your veggie intake just because you may step ‘off the wagon’. Keep those greens coming. They’ll help process the sweet potato pie. Take your time while eating. There’s definitely enough to go around!
- AWARENESS. Allow yourself to make conscious choices this holiday season instead of the cake making the decision for you. Breathe. Be present. Give yourself what you deserve and what makes you feel good, both inside and out. Everything changes when you become mindful.
- Look forward to the foods you fear the most. When we fear food, we actually give more power to it, thereby deeming it more tempting and inevitably losing ‘willpower’ over it. If you look forward to and relax around foods, they won’t seem so overpowering or begging to be eaten. And if they are, cool. Let them beg. Stay in charge.
- 80/20! If you eat healthy the majority of the time, your body will do a better job of processing and eliminating less healthy foods. If your reason for indulging on the holidays is because it makes you happy and you consciously choose it, it’s not a problem unless you make it one. Make a plan to go back to your regular way of eating. It’s only when people downward spiral and continue sabotaging their health efforts long after the holidays that poor health begins to set in.
- Make healthy versions of your favorite foods. Instead of using wheat flour in baked goods, use garbanzo, coconut, or almond flour to avoid gluten. Instead of using white sugar, try honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. Use non-dairy milk such as almond or hemp milk. Many of our favorite dishes can be made with healthier ingredients and taste the same, or even better.
Here’s my favorite healthy EGG-NOG recipe for the season. It contains powerful anti-inflammatory spices and is very warming, dairy free, and delicious!
The New and Improved Noggin Nog (RAW & VEGAN, OMEGA 3 RICH)
2 cups homemade cashew or almond milk (I like cashew milk because it’s usually thicker)
2 frozen peeled bananas
1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
dash ground clove
1/4 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
sprinkle of sea salt
ice, if you want it
Directions: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You can skip the banana and add coconut milk to create a different flavor and consistency if you desire. Also, leave out some of the spices until the end to sprinkle on top… especially the cinnamon!