First off, let me start by wishing everyone a HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!! Ahhh...the season of joy, love, family, gift-giving...and for most, 'tis the season of splurging on unhealthy foods and "falling off the wagon" so-to-speak. November hits, along with the cold weather, and everyone begins thinking of how they will just start "cleansing" in January so they can veer from their healthy habits as holiday parties take off and the festivities begin! I can't tell you how many of my clients need to schedule their cleanses around parties and events that they plan on eating and drinking without restrictions. I get it...I was like that once...until I realized that I can continue my healthy routine and STILL enjoy the holidays just like everyone else! I decided to write this post, not to brag that I live a certain way, or to prove that my will-power is stronger than yours, but to simple put some things into perspective and help encourage those who would like to know how they can continue their journey to health, even during a difficult time like now. Soooo...what are the secrets??
The first thing I would ask you to do is to evaluate your life and see why it is you desire to live a healthy life or eat a cleaner diet. Is it because you feel guilty of your old habits because you see others improving? Is it because you want to lose weight or look a certain way? Is it because you are very ill and want to feel better? Whatever this desire stems from, we all have our reasons, and perhaps there are multiple things factoring into why we want to change our habits. It's important to really understand what is driving us to do so and dig deep inside to develop an understanding of ourselves so we can figure out how to stay encouraged. For instance, if we are choosing to eat healthy for the sake of comparing ourselves to others or looking a certain way, it can be stemming from a much bigger issue which is not accepting or loving ourselves. When we truly accept ourselves - inside and out - we can understand that we are a pure gift from God! Knowing our worth helps us to want to care for our bodies and ultimately health is achieved when we become self-less and stop comparing ourselves to others or feeling bad about who we are. Be THANKFUL for your body - be THANKFUL for your life - and remember that there is NOBODY like you. If you could accept what a special gift you are, you will start to want to take care of yourself on a different level. Keeping our bodies healthy and feeding it the proper nutrients is like saying THANK YOU to God, making a promise to take care of your GIFT, and using this health to better serve others! If you are strong and healthy, you are available to help others! You can care for your family better, you can be a better friend, and you become a positive influence to others around you that may be struggling. When you help another person, there is no deeper reward.
If you decide that you want to eat cleaner because you want to achieve better health for the long-run, then this becomes a LIFESTYLE instead of a cleanse. You begin switching over your foods to ones that are nourishing instead of harmful. The more you do this, the better you start to feel, and the easier it is to continue. Sure, some people are forced into this lifestyle because they become ill, but you don't have to wait until you feel miserable to make these changes. Usually if you have already developed discomfort, disease, or any symptoms of failing health, it takes much longer to recover than it would have if you started sooner! Also, if weight loss is number one on your list, you must remember that a healthy body will restore itself to a healthy weight. Being thin does not mean a person is healthy! We must want to truly heal our bodies internally and not be overly consumed with the outside image. Obviously, we want to look healthy also, which will come when the machine is in working order, but being obsessed with image is detrimental to the body and SOUL. Focusing on fueling the body as a machine to run properly so we can live a long, healthy life should come first, and the outside will follow.
Another important thing to remember is that you are not going to be DEPRIVED of certain things, like most people view clean eating as...you don't have to suffer! In fact, it's the complete opposite. You just have to make a change, and the truth is, you will be rewarded by doing this! Once you start to feel sustainable energy, begin thinking clearer than ever before, sleeping better at night, and eliminating daily discomforts that you once thought were just "normal", you won't ever look back. Healing through foods is EMPOWERING and when you hit a new level of how you feel, you will wonder why you ever ate those harmful foods that you used to.
As most of you know, I can go on and on about why a healthy lifestyle is necessary but for now, let's get to the tips!
First off, get support. Find a TRUSTED nutritional counselor (LIKE ME!) who can encourage and direct you through the billions of opinions on what health means We all have friends that are either supportive of this lifestyle or the NAY-SAYERS...you don't have to rid the friends that don't agree with you, but just choose not to discuss your healthy habits with them. Confide in your friends and family that ARE supportive and remember that not everyone will understand your path - and THAT'S OK! It's about your health, not them or their opinions.
It's also important to remember that eating a certain way does not classify whether you will feel involved or alienated - only you decided that. If there is a gathering with friends or family and you know the food will not be healthy, bring a few healthy dishes or treats to share! If you bring along a dish, not only will you have something you can eat while everyone else is eating, but you feel like part of the celebration by sharing with others. Some of the staples I bring to gatherings are brown rice pasta with organic veggies and chicken, and of course I never leave home without a tasty dessert! Coconut flour, raw honey brownies are always a HIT! (Recipe coming...stay tuned!)
If you are going out to eat, do your best to be part of the decision on where you will eat. Choose a restaurant that you can order a piece of wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef or organic chicken. (Hey, there's always the Moringa Tree!!) Order these items along with some steamed or grilled veggies and even a side salad with just olive oil and lemon. When I followed a vegetarian and vegan diet, I would order veggies and just bring along a small amount of my own beans or quinoa to add to my dish. Nobody would question me, but if they did, I would just simply say it is for medical reasons. Avoid the sauces or already prepared dishes which can be filled with MSG, sugar, and other harmful ingredients. (More details on how to order food will be in a later post.) If you do not have an option at any of the restaurants, just eat a meal before you leave and still be a part of the group!
Want to enjoy a cocktail? I recommend having a glass of red imported wine, whereas many of the domestic wines are made with heavily sprayed grapes or added sulfates. You can order organic wine if it is available. White wines typically contain too much sugar and can disturb blood sugar levels so unless you don't have a blood sugar issue, I would stick to red. I recommend avoiding hard liquor and beer (which may contain MANY hidden ingredients like corn syrup and GMO products). Of course, we want to be aware of consumption also - not just because of calories like many think, but because too much alcohol of any sort will stress our vital organs out...we need out liver, kidneys and pancreas to function properly and we want to do our best to help them out!
Another thing I like to do during the holidays is to GIVE the gift of health and knowledge to others! When you are helping in the kitchen, do not be critical to the cooks - try to encourage a new way of cooking without offending their traditions. It takes time, but if you slowly begin to show them how to make changes in the kitchen, eventually they will be cooking like you! When everyone in the family is a healthy cook, it's a win-win and you don't have to worry whether or not you can enjoy their meals.
Suggestions to begin making healthy cooking changes:
Cook with Coconut Oil or Organic Butter instead of olive or other vegetable oils. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil cold or warm, but never in a pan. Avoid all processed vegetable oils or sprays.
Use Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt instead of regular table salt.
Use parchment paper to cover items instead of aluminum foil.
Prepare dishes in stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic or glass and avoid non-stick, aluminum or coated cookware.
Use PURE or WHOLE herbs and spices instead of mixes or blends that include "sugar, salt" or "other spices". We want to know what those spices are.
Use raw honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of processed white sugar.
Avoid wheat products unless they are sprouted.
Use organic, clean meats and dairy from untreated animals (no hormones, antibiotics, etc.)
These are just a few things to keep in mind while preparing your holiday meals and encouraging others to make some healthy changes. Remember that this season is not about letting go of what you may think is "restrictive eating" because the reason you are eating healthy is not to just for a temporary fix. Adapting yourself to eating a pure diet is something that you become - everyday, all the time. You are doing it for yourself, your family and ultimately to say thanks to God for giving you this life! That is what this season is about...LOVE and THANKSGIVING. Choosing to live like this becomes who you are, and not just a phase you go through. Be encouraged and know that you are not alone, and nobody is perfect. You will learn as you go and it will become second nature to you and others will know that is who you are and won't shun you for it...you will be an inspiration to all!
If you are ready to make some changes and need help, please contact me and let's get started. Cheers to a happy and HEALTHY holiday season!! :)