What does enjoying mean to you? Is it: quantity or quality?
If it’s quality, stick with me a few minutes. Because… what if you would NOT gain those typical 3 to 7 pounds during the holidays?
It seems to be a human habit to make intentions for the next year. But before we start, we want to “enjoy” and we eat more and differently then usual because “next year, we’re gonna get serious!” Then… we feel awful seeing the numbers on the scale, frustrated, bad about ourselves.
How can you do this differently so that you can start your new year with a projection instead of a setback?
Let me give you 5 tips that will help you to stay mindful about yourself and that keep those pounds off.
Keep your festive dinners stress-free
Stress can increase your appetite. It makes you release steroid hormones, of which Adrenaline and Cortisol you may know best. Adrenaline will give you instant energy (to fight or fly) and decrease your appetite. But not for long. Cortisol helps you replenish your body after the peek of stress passed by and can remain elevated, increasing your appetite (by the time you sit down at the table), driving you to eat more than you would normally do. But what’s more, stress does take away the feeling of pleasure and joy while you are preparing for a lovely day with your loved ones.
Therefor remind yourself of the meaning of a festive meal: sharing time, stories and laughter are more importantly than having a perfect dinner. No need for stress to celebrate.
Increase your portion of vegetables, cut down -or leave out- the meat
I’m presuming now that you are not eating a (raw) plant-based diet yet. Especially when you are eating at someone else’s table it can be difficult to say “no.” In that case, ask for more vegetables -make it 3/4 of your plate- and minimize your portion of meat. If you can, leave it out. Meat takes days to process and leave the body. Meanwhile, it’s weighing you down: it’s so difficult to digest and what you can’t digest, sticks to your belly, hips, thighs and waist.
Mushrooms are a great substitute for meat. Simply marinate Portobello’s or mushrooms of your choice and enjoy their meaty texture.
Decrease your alcohol intake
A difficult one, I know. When you are with people who love drinking, you will drink more too because it is a signal of being jointly. But alcohol slows down your digestion, is very acidifying (meaning: you can’t lose the weight you gain) and is a hidden calorie bomb that goes down sweetly.
Instead, you can drink juice (everyone loves my festive apple, lemon and ginger juice), water- or coconut kefir which has the bubbles and will give you a champagne or Cava experience. Or what about making my alcohol free “Nochito” of lime juice, mint, some agave and sparkling water for some bubbles? Just as tasty and it will give you energy.
Or… make several bottles of infused water a day ahead with combinations of cucumber and mint, orange and Goji berries, lime and mint,… It’s beautiful and delicious for anyone.
Or… buy some bottles of Kombucha. You can find them everywhere in American stores these days, even on tap. They offer you a wonderful alternative for alcohol!
Add raw side dishes and/or fermented foods that help you digest your cooked foods
In Korea, everyone knows that you need alive enzymes to digest your cooked foods as those don’t contain ANY enzymes anymore. Consider cooked foods as “dead.” They serve Kimchi with every meal: a fermented product of vegetables. Fermented foods are packed with alive enzymes and pro-biotics, the 2 major factors in your digestion. Remember: what you can’t digest will be stored!
If you don’t have fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, coconut yogurt, raw cheese) or beverages (water/coconut kefir, Kombucha…), simply make raw dishes on the side of what you cooked up. Raw plant based foods still have all their specific enzymes intact. Adding those will help you digest the foods that lost theirs. It is not ideal, but great progress.
Avoid sugars and gluten
Festive meals always end with an overload of sugar: sweet desserts. Who doesn’t love them? These sugar bombs are extremely addictive and act as a drug -cocaine to more specific-. Sugar brings the same rush in your brain as cocaine does and before you know, you want more. That’s why it is so difficult to stop eating desserts or sweet encores.
Make something sugar free: you can easily replace the corn syrup by a raw coconut sugar or date paste: no one will notice the difference.
Same for gluten: they make you feel tired and sluggish as soon as you consume them. Minimizing their intake will keep your energy up and your legs light for some dancing later on.
If you are eating with your family and you can’t control your Christmas plate, you can eat a lovely green salad with sauerkraut or kimchi at home, shortly before leaving. This will:
- sooth your biggest hunger so you don’t overeat at their table and stay more mindful when dinner is served
- provide your stomach alive enzymes to digest what you add later, break down and remove excess fats from your body
- deliver natural pro-biotics so you can optimize your colon for the heavy duty work that’s coming your way