Can you hear it? The nagging quiet voice saying “Oh no! How much weight am I going to gain this festive season?” With Christmas over, and now with Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day ahead, you can see the opportunities for splurge and pleasure. However these also present the opportunity for your waistline to expand! Are you falling into these 3 healthy-eating pitfalls? How can you succeed in eating healthy?
Why can’t we enjoy these festive guilty pleasures? Let me help you to understand the three reasons why these occasions feel purely filled with guilt – and not so much pleasure!
Why we fail:
- Often the foods that we like are highly processed, sugary items that contain many addictive qualities.
- We have come to believe that if we enjoy the foods we like, we must go through a period of deprivation, of dieting in order to re-balance from the period of over-indulgence.
- In these festive periods the peer-pressure around us creates an added element that makes it impossible to resist.
How you can succeed in eating healthy:
- We must come to understand the difference between Real Food and those items that are sold to us today and labelled as ‘Food’:
When you look at an avocado on a supermarket shelf, does it have a label listing all the ingredients? No. That’s because this is real food. What about spinach? An apple? Rice? Very different to noodles, bread, chocolate bars etc. By eating real foods our body can digest them in such a way that the fuels are used to nourish every cell – As opposed to these other items, which our body considers as foreign objects which it needs to store, in the form of fat, until it has time to identify and process it, which inevitably there is never the time to do.
Diets create a feeling of deprivation and craving. This inevitably leads to a need to binge on those things that we have restricted ourselves on. I practice an 80/20 lifestyle. 80% real food and 20% consumption of anything I may consider as a treat, but may not be considered as ‘real food’. This allows me to live a life of abundance and not restriction. I find that having a small bit of the things I like frequently prevents the binges created by large amounts of restriction. In the modern world where we are exposed to items not considered as ‘real foods’ (which are very different to our ancestor’s diet), following an 80/20 principle allows a life that’s not too regimented, especially in those social circumstances, such as the festive period we are now experiencing.
How do we avoid or manage the peer pressure? Preparation is the essential modern day answer to a balanced healthy lifestyle. Willpower is our enemy, habit is our ally. We cannot expect to be in circumstances where we will not be tempted, so help yourself in advance, shop wisely (never whilst hungry of course) choosing items you should be eating and not those that will send you into a guilt-filled, downward spiral. For example: A combination of seasoned mixed-nuts is a winning formula over mixed chocolates. High quality dark chocolate (75% cacao or above) is a better choice than white or milk chocolate varieties.
You can also practice your baking skills over these periods. Raw cacao brownies, chocolate avocado mousse, gluten free pineapple tarts, chili-chocolate hearts are all opportunities to experience guilt free pleasures. Isn’t Valentine’s Day the perfect time to cook a nutritious home cooked meal for your loved one? Or maybe one of the world’s healthiest diets (macrobiotics) can be observed by choosing a Japanese restaurant if you prefer to dine out.
So – you can succeed in eating healthy! You’ve changed your story to say you can have these things whenever you like and you eat an abundance of those real foods that you know your body can readily digest without storing as fat.
Welcome to a balanced life!