That time of year has arrived. Studies show that nearly all New Years resolutions are centered on weight loss and health, likely because the average person puts on 50% of their yearly weight gain during the holidays.
In my opinion, the biggest mistake made during the time between Thanksgiving and the New Year is the all-or-nothing approach. People over-indulge in alcohol, sugar, caffeine, cheap party food and baked goods and leave exercise by the wayside. Then, once people reach January and have no energy, don't sleep well, and feel bloated, they start their New Year off with a new gym membership, a rigid exercise protocol, and go on a strict diet that takes away everything they enjoy eating…..until it becomes too hard.
The majority of people who make health and exercise resolutions don't keep them past January 31st. This is often because any extreme, whether it's over-indulgence or deprivation, creates cravings for the opposite. Instead of taking part in this vicious cycle, I encourage you to learn how you can upgrade the food you love so that you can still eat the foods you enjoy instead of denying yourself. This was the first step I took on my own health journey and I discovered there is an abundance of healthy foods that can be substituted for foods that deplete our health. Roasting sweet potatoes in coconut oil was a saviour during times I craved crispy french fries!
Start your New Year by using my theory of "crowding out", which simply means "add the good stuff in and the bad stuff will naturally fade away". This is based on the fact that when the body gets used to caffeine, sugar, and alcohol daily, the entire biochemistry of the body shifts. When this happens, it becomes a matter of fighting your own biology if you try to go cold turkey and stop consuming these things. A better approach is to work with the body instead of against it, and gradually shift the biochemistry back to a state that's easier to work with.
The best way to begin with "crowding out" is to make sure that you drink 16oz of room temperature water with the juice of half a lemon upon waking. Something as simple as that will assist in eliminating metabolic waste from the processes that occur during sleep, and hydrate the brain and body to feel alert. Just as most people take their shower in the morning to cleanse the outside of the body, it's even more important to cleanse the inside of the body. A common result is that hunger and certain cravings subside because dehydration is often masked as feelings of hunger.
Next, eat a breakfast containing healthy fat and protein to normalize blood sugar, stress hormones, and help reset your metabolism. Waking up hungry is a great sign while being turned off by food upon waking can actually be a sign of a sluggish liver. A smoothie with a quality protein powder, ground flax seeds, and hemp seeds, or a few eggs with sauteed vegetables and avocado are great examples. Either will keep you satiated longer than a carbohydrate breakfast that spikes your blood sugar then plummets shortly after, causing you to crave a mid-morning snack.
Once that becomes routine, add in 2 servings of leafy greens per day. Be consistent and your body will rejoice in getting nutrients it has been deprived of. Things will start to shift and you may even find yourself beginning to crave healthier foods again.
A serving is 1 cup cooked or 2 cups raw and can include any variation of collard greens, kale, chard, bok choy, arugula, or anything else green and leafy. I also love to add in a serving of a green drink. Vitamineral Green is my favourite for this.
Next, try swapping refined carbohydrates (think cookies, crackers, bagels) for complex carbohydrates like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and root vegetables like sweet potato. This will slow down the release of glucose in your bloodstream, which balances your energy (bye bye moodswings), and replaces some of the essential B vitamins that holiday stress stripped away. Sugar cravings will naturally subside this way instead of you having to use up your will power.
If you want to step it up even further, try adding in roasted beets and burdock root sprinkled with cinammon and turmeric to aid with cleansing the blood and liver, while reducing inflammation.
Embrace these simple suggestions and you will slowly detoxify your body past January 31st and beyond while enjoying all the health benefits that come with it, like balanced weight loss, steady energy, improved sleep and better moods!
Now I'd love to hear from you. What is one thing you have added in to your diet to help "crowd out" unhealthy foods? Share and let me know!