This is the first time I write a blog post with more of "my thoughts" than nutrition advice. I figured it was time to switch it up a bit. I'm in the mood. It's the week after Thanksgiving and some of us are feeling stressed, low on energy, and in need of a detox. Is this you? I believe that a balance is key for a healthy lifestyle. I believe in the 80/20 approach, which consists of eating healthy 80% of the time and being able to indulge 20% of the time. I don't believe in depriving ourselves from the things we love. Everything should be done and consumed in moderation. I personally used to have a hard time reaching that healthy balance. Once I gave in to the foods that I don't normally eat (refined sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol), I found it hard to stop. Sugar is like a drug, it leaves you wanting more and more, and turns into a vicious cycle. The more we eat it, the more we crave it.
So how do we handle it? It takes time to get there, but it is possible. First of all, we have to learn to be okay with indulging and not punishing ourselves afterwards. It's about building a positive relationship with food and not a negative one. Second, we shouldn't be afraid of foods we love, but rather be mindful when we are eating them and know that they are only a treat and not an every day thing. If we believe that our body can handle it, then we won't stress about it. If we stress about the food we are eating, our body will not digest it well and cause inflammation and other symptoms. The more mindful we are when we eat, the better relationship we build with food. Don't let guilt dominate your eating experience and learn to enjoy every bite. Chew your food. It's so important to listen to our bodies and learn how food affects us to be able to eliminate the foods that don't make us feel good or don't provide us with energy. Throughout the years (yes, it takes time), I have learned to only enjoy foods that make me happy. Over indulging does not make me happy. In fact, I get in a bad mood when I eat a lot of sugar and not enough whole foods (vegetables, fruits, seeds, etc.).
My boyfriend and I took a road trip this holiday weekend and we could not believe how limited our food options were on the road. Dried apricots is all we walked away with at the gas station when we were feeling hungry. Good thing I had some raw coconut treats with us because there was literally nothing there that was going to give us sustained energy. We got smart on the way back and picked up food at Sprouts. We bought ingredients to make hummus & vegetable sandwiches on black rice bread (gluten-free), and a few bananas with almond butter.
It often seems to others that I am "too strict" on myself, when really I enjoy eating how I eat and the lifestyle I live. My body and mind have learned to not crave those foods I used to run to when I was feeling stressed or emotional. Those foods that are associated with "living a little." Based on how I feel with the foods I eat and how happy I am, I have never lived better. I do indulge every once in a while, but I never let myself fall into the trap of wanting more. I now know that my body can handle it without gaining weight or losing track completely, but only if I am mindful that it is just a treat and don't associate it with any negative thoughts.
That said, of course I did indulge a bit this past Thanksgiving and I don't regret it one bit. I came back from my trip refreshed and ready to take on a new month. I decided the best way to start was with a detox, so my mom and I started a 6 day detox yesterday. We want to have more energy, lose the bloating/inflammation, clear our skin, and get rid of cravings.
Here are simple tips you can do also to get back on track:
- Drink Water. I can't stress how important water is to cleanse the body. Headaches, bloating, cravings, and low energy are all often signs of dehydration.
- Eat More Greens. The more greens we eat, the less we cravings we have. Vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals we need daily and reduce inflammation. Are you craving sugar? Eat greens. Are you low on energy? Eat greens.
- Eat a Balanced Breakfast. If your breakfast consists of mostly sugar (breads, pastries, fruit), you will crave sugar the rest of the day. Start your day with a breakfast packed with protein and healthy fats and you'll have more energy for longer.
- Walk it Out. Walking is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Take a long walk in the morning for the best start to your day or take 10-20 minute walk breaks throughout the day to reduce overall stress in your life. The more we stress, the harder it is to manage weight regardless of how clean our diet is.
- Eat Mindfully. Always ask yourself before you eat: "Will this nourish me and give me energy?." If the answer is no, then make changes. Be mindful of what you eat and how you feel during and after. Enjoy every bite and remember that you are the only one that can control what goes into your body.