I do my best to eat a "clean" diet. I have my vices, but in all honesty, I'm pretty strict about what I eat...until the Holidays hit. It's like someone else takes over my brain and tells me it's OK to have cookies and fudge and chocolate covered everything! I like to think it's that evil little elf on the shelf that does it to me. It takes everything in me to keep it all in "moderation" when enjoying those little treats. That's what the holidays are for though, right? My one rule that I stick to is that it has to be homemade. If someone put the effort into creating a delicious treat, I will allow myself to have a small piece or bite. Once the holidays are over, it's back to the grind. That's the hard part. All of a sudden, my once strict self has become used to having those treats and so I want them even more. So, here are my rules to go by once I "fall off the wagon" and want to get back on.
RULE 1: Eat Real Food
This one is not too hard, since I tend to stick with this one throughout the holidays as much as possible. The basis is to eat only food that is plant based or fish. (The occasional antibiotic/hormone free chicken and grass fed beef will make it to my plate, but I prefer fish.) When I do have to eat something that is "processed" I make sure the ingredient list is under 5 and that I can pronounce all ingredients in the list. I also make sure there is no High Fructose Corn Syrup. To learn more about the dangers of this nasty ingredient check out: The Real Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup.
RULE 2: Shop the Peripheries
When entering a grocery store, one thing to keep in mind is that the aisles are a "danger zone". There is nothing good that can come of walking up and down every aisle. In fact, your chances of buying high fructose corn syrup and other fake food additives increases greatly...probably by 100%. The aisles are filled with advertisements to tell you that the food is good for you, "low fat", "non-fat", "low cholesterol", "HEALTHY". The chances of something sold in a box that is good for you and is actually healthy, is slim to none...especially if the box has to tell you this information. Can you pronounce all of the ingredients? Are there more than 5? No? Then, put it down and walk away. When you shop the periphery of the grocery store, there is more fresh food. This is where you will find the fruits and vegetables - the long lost "FOOD" that people have forgotten about. If you want to make sure you are getting the most out of this food, buy organic. The organic produce is higher in the vitamins and minerals that your cells need in order to maintain your inner workings. It's not all about the pesticide in the food...it's about the soil that the food was grown in. A soil rich in nutrients produces food that is nutrient dense. A soil devoid of nutrients and full of pesticides and toxins produces food that is lacking in vital nutrients and needs special fertilizers and/or modifiers to make sure it grows nice and big so you will buy it. Ever heard of GMO's? There will be a lot of "research" out there in google land that will tell you otherwise, but remember that these studies are published with the help of the the big food labels that don't want the organic revolution to take off. The studies are done in such a short amount of time with small pools of people so that their research comes out just as they would like. I challenge you to really look into the importance of organic agriculture, not only for your health but for the health of our land and water. I digress....
RULE 3 Enjoy Your Food
How often are you shoving as much food as possible into your mouth in your car in between meetings or obligations? In the words of my lovely great grandmother Esther, "For Pete's sake", sit down and enjoy a meal for once! Sit at a table, put your food on a plate, and put your phone away. When was the last time you had a conversation over a meal? Have you ever looked around a restaurant and seen how many people are looking at their phones? It's amazing to me how many people have forgotten how to simply enjoy food. Studies have shown that the more time and/or money you put into the food you eat, the less you eat. The reason? People will appreciate and actually taste the food that they spent money on or actually spent time and effort to make. If you are using quality ingredients and preparing your food, I bet you'll take the time to sit down and actually enjoy it. It's not more expensive to eat healthy as most people like to to argue. The fact is, you eat less when you buy more quality (and usually more expensive) food. Some of my favorite recipes come from Whole Foods Market and Clean Eating Magazine. They are simple and easy to make and once you start the ritual of making dinner each night instead of driving through the fast food lane, it becomes second nature. All of a sudden, your food seems to taste a lot better than the over processed crap they sell through that little pick up window. It may take a little bit of time to get used to the way "food" should actually taste, but over the course of 2-3 weeks, you will notice a difference. Especially if you give up the processed the foods!
RULE 4: When it comes to your health, there is no finish line...
If you are looking to make healthier choices in the upcoming New Year, please remember that they should be life long changes. Fad diets do not work. If you truly want to live a healthier, happier life, you have to make actual lifestyle changes. Short term changes do not work because you will be right back to where you started a year from now. Educate yourself on the importance of good nutrition whether you are runner, an iron worker, or a stay at home mom. Nutrition is what fuels your body and keeps you healthy. Is your body a temple or an outhouse? Start with just one change a week. If you are interested in a 21 day program to help break your addiction to sugar, salt, and processed foods, please check out my page on the Purification Program.
These rules are of course my own, personal rules and ways that I like to live. I do not believe that every single person needs to follow these exactly, but you should figure out what works for you. Figure out what makes you happy and follow that rule. Very rarely, when I am really honest with myself, does eating a certain food make me happy. I'm actually happiest when I have put the effort into making a really tasty meal and seeing my daughter gobble it up and say, "That was delicious!". THAT is what makes me happy...