By Christine M. Okezie, CHHC, Natural Foods Chef
If you’re like me and engaged in a few days, or perhaps weeks, of holiday indulgences, such as too many sugar cookies, second helpings and other merriments, you are probably feeling a bit bloated, sluggish and a bit heavier than usual. No worries, we’ve all been there. I want to share with you my top five tips for making balance after the holidays.
First, leave the post-holiday guilt behind and be grateful if you had a chance to share delicious food, drinks and laughter with friends and loved ones. And remember that scolding yourself and stressing out over how bad you’ve been will not help you restore healthful eating habits.
Instead, put the scale away, honor yourself with some self-compassion and embrace today as the day to start to begin to eat as normally as possible. Don’t put yourself on some unrealistic regimen that involves skipping meals, or cutting back significantly on what you would normally eat. This will backfire when you eventually get too hungry and overeat at some point later in the day, especially if you have leftovers tempting you.
So instead of crash dieting, Hollywood detox gimmicks, self-loathing or thinking you have to go to beat up your body at the gym for hours on end, try this step by step approach that will leave you feeling energized and set you on the path to a healthier and happier you in the New Year.
1–Cut Out the Extra Sugar and Refined Carbs – After too many sweets and carb-loaded goodies, your digestion and cravings are really out of balance. Eat more filling proteins (chicken, eggs, fish, beans) and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocado). This is the single most effective step you can take to get rid of your bloating, sluggishness and begin feeling more like your pre-holiday self.
2– Load Up on Water – Help your body flush out those toxic excesses and eliminate waste. Drink a tall glass of water upon waking every morning and guzzle lots throughout the day. (Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces. i.e. A 150lb person should drink about 75 oz. of water.)
3– Get Green – Just as important as getting the bad stuff out, we need to get the good back in. Get as many green vegetables on your plate and in your body as possible. Make your blender your new BFF and make smoothies for breakfast or an easy snack or meal. (Try my Delicious Green Smoothie recipe below). Have a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal and try to have one big salad every day. Aim for a variety of produce to ensure that you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you likely ignored over holiday break.
4– Start Moving – Ease back into or start off with a gentle workout regimen. Even If you can’t get to the gym, yoga class etc. try doing a 20-minute combo of stretching, push-ups, jumping jacks or a brisk walk outside. Don’t be tempted to punish yourself in a marathon session. The key to success is finding an enjoyable activity, do a little bit every day and prioritize it in your schedule.
5– Cultivate Gratitude – Traditional cultures have long understood the integral connection between gratitude and health. Modern research now supports that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive effects in helping people cope with stress, and it’s no secret that stress can make us sick and neglect ourselves. So start a Gratitude Practice. Choose a set time of day every day and begin by sitting down with pen and paper or at your computer and start, “I am grateful for …” Focusing on your blessings and what brings you pleasure in life can be the bridge to feelings of self-love and fulfillment.
Here is a great recipe to get you started:
Delicious Green Smoothie
Yield: 1 to 2 servings
3 Kale leaves (include the stalk if using a high power blender like Vitamix. Otherwise remove stalk and just add kale leaves, or use 1 cup of pre-washed baby kale leaves)
2 cups baby spinach
1 medium banana
2 or 3 medium frozen strawberries
½ cup water or unsweetened white grape juice (more or less to desired consistency)
In a blender, add all ingredients and process until smooth.
Christine M. Okezie is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York, and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She founded her company, Your Delicious Balance, where she councils individuals to heal themselves through real food and positive lifestyle choices. Her healing strategies are based on whole foods nutrition, and guides her clients to adopt a plant-centered way of eating that offers anti-inflammatory and detoxifying benefits to the body. For more information or to contact Okezie, visit her Web site at www.yourdeliciousbalance.com or call (201) 880-5001.