This holiday season I managed to NOT GAIN any weight from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Quite a good accomplishment I would say! And, it is a first! Yes, I indulged and enjoyed treats and special meals but I just didn’t make every moment of every day in December be an excuse to stuff my face with foods I normally don’t eat. In fact, I think this is the first year in a long time that I remained unstuffed and mostly uncompromised during the celebrations. (Patting myself on the back.)
Even so, I certainly did make and eat more than my share of holiday indulgences. Did you? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
“Time to clean up my act!”
What with the cookies, pies, stuffing stuffed in squashes, potatoes, and numerous other carb-loaded meals that seems like it would be the first place to cut back, doesn’t it?
Well . . . yes and no.
This is the traditional post-holiday season for joining weight-loss programs, making fitness resolutions and promising beneficial dietary changes. But that doesn’t mean we should go to the other extreme and attempt to cut out entire major food groups or set impossible and un-maintainable goals for ourselves.
Our bodies work on a basis of homeostasis. (I’m a poet and don’t know it,) The body likes to maintain the status quo. So if you want to make changes, you’ve got to train your body to be able to adjust the way you want it to.
Three easy tips to get back on the rails
1. Whole Grains. My best advice after all those flour products and simple carbohydrates is NOT TO ELIMINATE CARBS! Instead, consistently use whole grains and just cut out or cut back on the refined and processed grains.
Whole grains means the entire grain, unbroken and un-made-into-flour, not cracked, not rolled, not processed into any other format than just a grain. Included are things like brown rice, millet, quinoa (really a seed, but that’s okay), barley, buckwheat, wheat berries, whole oats—you get the idea.
Pearl Barley with Black Beans and Carrots
Not included would be any breads, pastries, pastas, pizza dough, baked goods etc that are made with refined grains such as white flour. Check it out! “Rye bread” ingredients might say there’s rye flour but also it could say “wheat flour.,” That doesn’t mean whole wheat and probably means white wheat which has already been stripped down before it is even made into flour. I think most of you know what the difference is between whole unrefined grains and the other stuff.
For the most part—at least for a while—I recommend avoiding or greatly reducing bread, cereal and flour products made from whole grains that were nonetheless cracked or floured, pasta, noodles. Also potatoes.
Some other foods that can help satisfy a craving for refined carbs are beans and squashes.
2. No sugar. No sugar including honey, definitely no agave syrup (it is like high fructose corn syrup in how it affects your body), brown sugar, molasses, cane-anything and any products that contain these. But does that mean going from Sweets City to desolation? Absolutely not! You can get your whole grains and satisfy your sweet tooth by using whole grain sweeteners such as brown rice syrup and barely malt. These are complex carbohydrates and can be eaten in moderation without throwing your body off. See what I recommended in my top ten Christmas gift for cooks list.
3. Eat those veggies! We all know we should eat veggies, but how much do we really need? I would say as much as you can manage but no less than 40-50% of your food volume. At least while you’re cleaning up your act. And every day this should include dark leafy greens like kale, collards, turnip greens, broccoli rabe, etc.
Even if you get some of your veggies in a smoothie, that is better than nothing.
This is by no means a complete rundown on what to eat to be healthy. There is so much more and so many great books and advices that you can read and follow.
These are, however, my top three tips on getting back into balance after a month-long holiday season of indulgences. This is what I’m doing and I’ll let you know how it goes.,
I’d love to hear what you are doing and how it is working for you!