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Enjoying The Holidays Without Going Overboard

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With the holidays coming up, it’s important to plan ahead to make these times healthy and fun without giving up the things you love. Now, life is an experience, and the better we feel the greater the experience. Holidays are time to spend with your favorite people and it’s important that you feel good in order to make these experiences really count.

Now when it comes to food and eating we tend to live on two extremes.  Unhealthy or too healthy. When we live too healthy it takes the fun out of eating, and when we live too unhealthy it takes the fun out of life. Nothing should be off limits and it’s important to live a life of balance.

The Food Target is where our On Target Living name comes from—it’s a mindful eating guide for upgrading your food choices and is a great tool at showing you how to find balance.

It’s not about giving anything up—it’s about making everything better and being mindful of how much and how often you indulge. We don’t get pleasure when we over do things. Maybe instant gratification but not long- term happiness. When we feel like crap from over indulging, our experience is probably not going to be so great.

Learn More About Mindful Eating By Clicking On This Image

Mindful eating is about paying attention to your eating on purpose. Eating in a way that makes you feel healthy and happy and using your common sense to make choices versus relying on science and confusing information. Do you really think restricting ourselves of carbs the rest of our life will be the only way to stay fit? Kale’s unhealthy now? Wheatgrass causes death? That’s ridiculous. If we really use our common sense, we know that can’t be true. The foods in the center of this food target will always be the healthiest foods—that will never change no matter what trend or diet becomes popular.

Now, as a Dietitian and superfood chef I believe that getting healthier truly starts with cooking more meals at home. Not only is it more nutritious but it is also a very powerful way of connecting you with others. And the holidays are all about homemade favorites and traditions.

Using the most natural ingredients (foods in the center of the Food Target) will allow you to cook very flavorful dishes that you can’t mess up.

Flavor comes from nutrients—the healthier the food, the tastier it will be. Now when it comes to making your holiday favorites healthier, simple upgrade the ingredients of everything you are using by reading the ingredient list.

Grocery stores are confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. 40% of the items aren’t real food and you can start weeding out some of these foods by looking at the ingredients.

  • Less ingredients are best
  • Choose real ingredients you can pronounce
  • Avoid processed corn, canola, soy, and sugar products (anything than ends in “ose”)
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup
  • Choose only organic animal products
  • Avoid whey products or whey derived ingredients
  • Avoid “natural flavors”
  • Avoid artificial coloring (Blue No. 1, Yellow No. 5, etc)
  • Foods that don’t have an ingredient list will always be healthy (carrots, apples, broccoli, etc)

Food Substitutions 101

  • Find cereals without artificial coloring
  • Choose peanut butter with one ingredient
  • Swap out the energy and sports drinks for coconut water
  • Upgrade your 100-ingredient bread to a sprouted version
  • Choose organic half and half or coconut cream instead of processed coffee creamer
  • Instead of Miracle Whip get a mayonnaise made with avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • Use organic Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Avoid processed margarines or butter spreads and switch to butter made from grass-fed cows
  • Avoid shredded packages cheese that contains corn starch or “wood” and shred your own organic cheese (goat’s cheese is best and it comes in many different cheese varieties)
  • Instead of processed GMO-corn filled tofurkey—stick to one ingredient organic meats
  • Don’t choose any “fake” or “imitation” products (these are worse for you)
  • Choose hot dogs made with “real beef” (make sure to read the ingredients)
  • Avoid gluten-free packaged products (the gluten is typically replaced by processed corn and soy ingredients)
  • Foods in the center of the Food Target will naturally be gluten free

80/20 Rule

Now I want to share a little secret for making the most of your holidays and how to live healthy without giving up your favorite holiday dishes.

I use a little secret called the 80/20 Rule. This means that 80% of the time, you make healthy lifestyle choices and 20% of the time you make room for the things you love like holiday dishes and cocktails. This allows you to indulge a bit, have little fun, and not give up your health or feel guilty. It also allows you to make these experiences much more rewarding and meaningful.  Plus, no one gets pleasure when they over do things or over indulge.

Determine What’s Worth it

Are those cheesy potatoes worth it? Do you really need 5 cookies to know what it tastes like? Savor the one cookie, the taste, the smell, and enjoy the experience.

The One- Bite Rule

If you feel that you must indulge, go with the one- bite rule. That means that you savor your very first bite.  Really taste it, chew it and determine whether it is truly worth it or not. Remember that there are so many amazingly delicious things in this world that you should never waste it on something that is so not worth it. Plan ahead for your 20% and make it count.

Plan Ahead for These Special Moments by Using the 80/20 Rule

  • 80% eat foods found the center target and 20% of the time don’t worry about it—make room for the things you love and special occasions.
    • This gives you 4 meals a week where you can splurge a little.
  • It’s the story of food that is so powerful—it connects us, it builds relationships, food is love.

Use real ingredients and experiment with new foods and flavors. Use the 80/20 Rule to plan ahead for special occasions. Remember that the number one rule is to have fun!

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday!