As you think about maintaining balance this holiday, realize that setting health and balance goals goes far beyond not gaining unwanted pounds. A stable weight is just one of the benefits of enjoying a healthy diet. It is actually more like a positive side effect of creating balance in your life. What most people don’t realize when they want to find balance and maintain or lose weight is that food is just one part of a much larger equation. Balance and deeply meaningful things also come from what I call Balance Foods, areas in your life other than food, like relationships, community, sleep, career fulfillment, spirituality, time in nature, learning, self-care, and exercise. If one of these Balance Foods is off, it’s a common reflex to turn to food to fill the void. The fix is only temporary and it won’t truly nourish us. That’s why healthy living is more than just about food and exercise. As you make your commitment to having a healthy, happy and balanced holiday season, be sure to include these balance foods in your intentions as ways to nourish yourself at a deeper level in the process.
The other thing to consider while embarking on healthy holiday goals is to realize eating healthy does not mean starving or depriving yourself, especially at a time when food is everywhere. Food is not about control, it’s about freedom and flexibility. Food is a life-force that gives you energy and once you begin to let go of trying to control it and focus on how it nourishes you, your relationship with food will change…and so will your body. Forget about diets and eating boring foods. You should never resign yourself to eating food you don’t enjoy.
Halloween is the beginning of an incredibly busy time of year. It’s almost impossible to find someone who says they have extra time on their hands. While your life might be in high-gear, don’t let your food keep up the same pace. Many people try to eat healthy at home, but when they’re on the road visiting family or traveling, any thoughts about making a healthy choice are thrown out the passenger seat window. Avoid these common pitfalls when you’re living and dining on-the-go this holiday:
1) Failing to plan. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not planning ahead. You know the old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail.” When it comes to eating on-the-go, the same rule applies. Knowing what you are going to eat at least 24 hours in advance will keep you from entering an “emergency hunger”, hangry state. You’ve been there before: you’ve gone hours without eating and suddenly you need food fast – so you reach for fast food. When an “emergency hunger” state hits, most anything goes, and food becomes an object of your obsession. In these moments, you are more likely to choose the quickest option to cure your starvation and mood, which can equal highly processed food full of unwanted ingredients. Make time to plan ahead each week. Try to dedicate 30 minutes on a Saturday afternoon to planning what you will eat during the week ahead. You may plan certain days for eating out and others for eating in, but you'll always know where your next meals or snacks are coming from.
2) Confusing a snack as a meal. Eating on-the-go may mean eating smaller meals, more frequently. It’s important to differentiate between a snack and a meal substitute. A snack is usually one item, something that will tide you over in between meals. A meal substitute is more like a mini meal. It is larger than a snack and may substitute as a meal on-the-go until you arrive at your next destination. Eating many snacks may not satisfy you, as you can easily skip some important nutrients. Mini meals can provide energy and satiate you but should be chosen wisely. You want to make sure you are getting in essential energy boosters like protein and healthy fats. These are the foods that will make your mini meal go much farther than your taste buds. Here are some mini-meal ideas for long-lasting energy: a fruit smoothie made with nut butter and yogurt, healthy food bars without added sugar, a hardboiled egg, veggie sticks with hummus, whole grain crackers with cheese, or yogurt with granola and nuts.
3) Leaving vegetables out. We’re supposed to eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and veggies per day, and reach for nine servings! Most Americans, however, only eat 2.5 servings. Fruits and vegetables are antioxidant powerhouses, it’s important to include them as often as possible. Eating fruits and vegetables on-the-go are actually the fastest of fast foods. There’s not much to crunching into an apple, peeling an orange or even tossing a salad with your favorite dressing. There’s no cooking involved, yet when we travel we tend to skimp on the fruits and veggies. Bring some veggie sticks along for the ride or find stores that carry grab'n go salads.
Here are some tips for healthy snacks when you travel.
1) Almond butter is a great substitute for peanut butter. Spread on fruit, toast or add to smoothies for added protein.
2) Cookhard-boiledd eggs ahead of time and keep them in your fridge. This is a good on-the-go meal.
3) If you are going to be traveling and not able to get a healthy meal, avocadoes have good fat and will satisfy you so you don’t eat airport food.
4) Buy raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds and mix together in a bag to make a trail mix before you go out the door.
5) Pack some veggie sticks with hummus or salsa.
6) Cut up and pack some fruit slices.
7) Whole grain crackers like the Kashi brand are a healthy snack to take along. Mix some organic yogurt with granola or fresh fruit.
If you are not traveling this holiday season here are some tips while you are home.
1) Cook once, eat twice…or three times! Make more food when you cook, then freeze it or take it for lunch the next day.
2) Set 30 minutes aside each week to plan the week ahead. What will you eat, when will you shop, what days will you be very busy?
3) Keep fresh protein in the refrigerator. Fish can be broiled in 5-7 minutes.
4) Use a crock pot. Cook a whole chicken while you are away at work. This can be combined for up to 5 new meals: Chicken over rice, chicken and pasta, chicken on salad, chicken soup, chicken burritos!
5) Keep veggies fresh. Use a Vegetable-Saver Bag or squeeze all the air out of your plastic bag to help vegetables last longer.
6) Delegate. Have each family member or friend choose a night to be “chef”.
Don’t let the holidays derail your healthy eating plans.