recipes and tips for better living

Monday, December 6, 2010

Falling Victim to the Seasonal Seven?: Let Strategy Be Your Anti-Cookie Ammunition

Crisco's on the counter, Mama's baking apple pie.  Granny's pouring stiffies and knocking em' back with the boys and Uncle Joe's making his famous velveeta dip with fritos.  Pop's on his third rummed 'nog and just snuck the dog Aunt Linda's beef yorkshire pie, and your little cousin's in his cowboy gear, high on butter cookies and m&m's, shooting grandpa whose either really dead, or fast asleep on the coach with a piece of fruitcake stuck to his belly.  Welcome to the Holidays!!!

Yup, it's that time of year again.  Where social occasions should be called mandatory obligations, and where not partaking in a cocktail will get you renamed Ebenzer Scrooge quicker than you can say Bah Humbug.  You visit your family, your partner's family, your friend's family, and your friends' friend's family, and while some of it may be fun and entertaining, often we show up completely unsure why we agreed to go.  Either way, all to often we take refuge in too many cocktails, too many cheese plates, too many buttered rolls, and too many traditional treats that remind us of childhood, inevitably finding that seasonal seven, that freshman fifteen, that muffin top or dunlap (where your waist dunlap your pants) or whatever you want to call it, rearing it's ugly head by january (hmmm, and i wonder what your new years resolution will be, AGAIN).  So how can we skinny, rather than just shimmy, our way though the holidays when faced with all these exotic (yes sarcasm intended), rich delicacies and so many social gatherings??  Here are a few tips to give you a little Anti-Cookie Ammunition:

*Start your day right by eating light.  Since holiday dinners may include heavier foods and richer desserts, let your body have the daytime hours to rest, process, and prepare.  Start every morning with a glass of room temperature or hot water with lemon and ease into your day with fruit, fresh pressed green juices, or green smoothies.

*Eat three meals and two in between meal snacks so that the body receives nourishment every three hours.  Breakfast (fruit/juice/smoothie) at 7am, snack (fruit/juice/smoothie) at 10am, lunch at 1pm, snack at 4, dinner at 7.  This should help curb your hunger so you aren't famished by the time you show up for your event.  Make sure the food you are eating is filled with fiber and nutrients.  At lunch prepare a salad with steamed veggies and have a small serving of grain, legume, or sweet potato, and bring veggie crudites and a little hummus to work as your later afternoon snack. 

*Eat a healthy meal at home before showing up at your event, eliminating hunger so there's no need to snack.

*Use food combining principles.  Don't combine protein with starches, and always eat fruit by itself.  Include LOTS of water filled vegetables with all of your meals (vegetables combine well with starches and with protein).  This way you can eat heartily without overtaxing your digestive system.   You could also consider taking a digestive enzyme at the start of each meal.  Wait 3 hours after a carb based meal, 4-6 hours after you eat animal protein, and 30 minutes after fruit to consume anything else.  If you even just focus on those transit times it'll keep you from munching and allow your digestion to work effectively.

*Drink minimally during mealtime.  Drinking during meals dilutes digestive juices making it harder for your meal to get properly broken down.  

*Choose good starches.  Forego white rice, white bread, pasta, and sugar laden baked goods.  Search for brown rice and quinoa dishes, and let sweet potatoes and butternut squash curb your sweet tooth.

*Bring Sparkling Water and lemon to potlucks and social occasions.  Enjoy this out of a wine glass.  Sometimes it's just drinking out of the big kids glass that makes all the difference. 

*Drink lots of water and herbal teas.  If you choose to indulge in a drink or two make sure you drink a 16 oz glass of water in between your two drinks, and again after.  Once you get the water in your glass you may be less likely to go back to the alcohol...just keep the glass full with water, or your tea cup full of warm water to sip on.  Treat your cocktail or wine as if it were a dessert.  Alcohol has 7 calories per gram (carbs have 4, fats have 9), those calories add up QUICK plus drinking hinders your best judgement.  When judgement goes out the door, so does your anti-cookie ammunition.

*Bring your toothbrush, a small toothpaste, floss, and a travel size mouthwash, and excuse yourself to the lieu and clean up that dirty mouth.  Often when you clean your mouth you lose the desire to eat, and many foods just don't taste good combined with mint (ever had OJ after a tooth-brushing sesh?  ewww).  Give it a shot.  At the very least, everyone will be impressed with your minty fresh breath!

*Remind yourself of your goals, and how you want to look and feel.  Just because you start to overeat, or slip up with a couple sweets, don't fall into the self sabotaging, defeatist attitude of, "Oh well, i ate the cake, i might as well eat the entire pie too".  While it's fine to indulge a little (you shouldn't feel deprived, just strong willed), don't add insult to injury.  Nip it in the bud and get back on track before your body has a much harder time getting back to where you need to be.  If you know you are the type of person who cannot stop with just one, don't start.  Rather keep sipping your sparkling water, herbal tea, or go for a minty gargle in the restroom.

*Consider bringing an individually wrapped square of your favorite 70% dark chocolate in your bag.  Again, it's not about deprivation, it's about being strong willed and making good choices.  If mom's tiramisu and aunt kathy's eclairs are the only options, you'll be glad to have a little something to enjoy without having to unbutton your jeans.

*Wear slightly restrictive clothing.  HA!  I do this and it works!  Find something (not uncomfortable) that looks good, but might be slightly restrictive.  Like a figure fitting dress with heels that will make you stand proper (so the belly can't fall out), or pants that don't have a lot of give, or a shirt that is not very forgiving through the midsection (girls, get rid of those empire waist tops if you're not preggers), and let this outfit be a gentle reminder of the old saying "nothing tastes better than skinny feels".  Although, some things do taste better than skinny feels, after the holidays you'll be glad you told yourself that anyway.

*Last but not least is the MOST important.  Be truly engaged.  Rather than making the occasion about food, drinks, and jibber-jabber, really tune in.  Who are you really talking with?  Get to know them.  Ask questions.  Learn from them (yes, you can even learn from folks you think are stupid and crazy).  Be present.  You'll have a much better time, get so much more out of the night, and won't feel the need to nibble cuz your mind will be active on other things.

...And if all else fails, join me in January to start the year off right recommitting to your waistline and learning how to take control of your health for a 30 day yoga challenge and cleanse: 'Detox and Flow' at Sculpt Fusion Yoga in San Diego (

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