3 Healthy Holiday Habits You Need To Take Up NOW

healthy holidayEven if the holiday party invites aren’t flooding your mailbox and inbox just yet, you know they’re coming. They do every year.

And every year you look forward to the fun but you also sort of dread the exhaustion, deviation from your routine and the fact that time feels like it moves in fast forward.

In the name of celebrating with wellness and fun in mind and not letting all those weight loss tips you stockpiled throughout the year go by the wayside, I want to set you up with a few healthy holiday habits in order to make this season of parties and celebration a little less draining and a lot more empowering.

 

3 Healthy Holiday Habits You Need To Take Up NOW

 

Don’t be creative with the food that is in your control. I know it sounds crazy, but if you keep your food simple, and stick to what you know works (where you can), then the party fare won’t be as stressful, damaging to your waistline or disruptive to your GI tract. You know how to eat healthy…don’t let the holidays completely push you off track.

 

If you’re eating all holiday foods all the time, you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel lousy and of course, pack on extra weight. Keep what you can control simple, and balance the holiday foods with your go-to healthy foods.

Healthy breakfast: There are usually not many holiday breakfast parties, so keep these in straight forward and consistent. Rotate between two to three choices. Here are my faves.

Healthy lunch / healthy dinner ideas: When these meals aren’t part of an actual soiree, keep them clean and don’t do leftovers. Rotate between your favorite lean proteins and choose 2 veggies with each meal and a little fat. More faves:

 

Make your space clutter-free. There is a saying about how horizontal spaces are a magnet for clutter. Clutter has a way of making us feel chaotic, out of control and less happy and productive in our work spaces. And guess what, there’s solid research to support this!

Make a habit of clearing your plates and cleaning up the kitchen right away, instead of waiting to do it later.

Set up one space for gifts to gift wrap in your home.

Organize and strategically arrange your holiday cards to enjoy them without them falling over and getting in the way. Creating a habit of organizing your stuff will make it easier to stick to your wellness goals. {Tweet this}. I promise.

 

Get your zzzs at all costs. The third healthy holiday habit you need to have down this holiday season is your bedtime routine.

Sleep hygiene is a really powerful tool in your wellness kit because the better rested you are, the less likely you will be to eat out of fatigue, stress, grumpiness or grinch-like energy.

Choose a few things that you can do each night to make sleeping well a top priority: establish a bedtime, wash your face, brush your teeth, turn off all of your technology, spend a few minutes doing something calming you enjoy (read a book, journal, meditate), then turn off the lights.

No staying up late wrapping presents. Your sleep is more important than that pretty bow.

The Best Portion Control Hack to Avoid Overeating

portion-control

Figuring out how much you need to eat to reach your goal (weight loss or just maintaining!) is just as important as choosing what to eat.

And portion control is usually not for the faint of heart, especially when your stomach is sounding like bad radio static.

Have you ever noticed that the apple and peanut butter you usually have as a morning snack is sometimes perfectly satisfying? Sometimes that same apple and peanut butter doesn’t do the trick at all and you’re starvin (for Marvin) for lunch before 11AM OR you eat the apple and peanut butter and dig your spoon back into the pb jar for just a little more. And, then more, and then more, and then more peanut butter.

What’s the deal?  How much of this apple and pb goodness should you be eating?

Today I’m gifting you with one of the best hacks to conquer portion control: Hunger Quotient (HQ).

Your HQ is one of the more difficult concepts to wrap your head around (yes, it takes mental work!) when it comes to healthy eating. But you can do this, you can learn this, it eventually becomes easy, and it does work.

It will be one of your greatest nutrition tools in your knowledge base (regardless of the food you eat) and get you closer to the healthy eater you were meant to be.

What is Hunger Quotient (HQ)?

Your HQ is a number on a scale of 1 – 10: how hungry are you? It helps you figure out your appetite at any given moment.

hq

When you were born, you had the ability to eat when you were hungry and stop when you were full. As you grow, that ability sadly diminishes.

As an adult,  you eat for so many reasons other than true hunger, and sometimes you eat without any hunger. Yes, we’ve all done that!  Many times!

Stress, your previous meal experiences, emotions and hundreds of other factors influence your appetite.

Quieting all of this “noise” that has a say (a big one, kind of like your mother-in-law-chiming-in size) in what and how much you’re eating, connecting with your true hunger and giving an objective number to your readiness to eat is essential to eating the right amount and for the right reasons.

This may sound easy, but it takes loads and loads of practice. The pay off? A lifetime of weight management once you conquer this. I promise. I live by it.

Your goal is to always be between a 4 and a 6 on the HQ scale at any given time. {Tweet this}. 

You do not want to be starving or stuffed — you want to feel empowered knowing that you’ll be eating again in a few hours, so there is no need to overdo it at this meal, or under-do it at the next.

At the beginning of each meal, you should be aware of slight hunger as you tuck your napkin onto your lap, take a sip of agua and pick up your (preferably not plastic) fork.

You should not be ravenous.

Being an 8 or higher on the hunger scale makes it impossible to be in the moment because you’re so hungry all you can do is focus on getting food in your belly.  Translation: head first into the leftover Chinese food container.

Every opportunity to eat is an opportunity to eat just enough to be comfortable — what I call slightly satisfied.

When you are at a 4, slightly satisfied, you are “just right” because you have eaten just enough to feel content without needing to loosen your belt or take a nap.

This may sound simple, but it can be the most difficult part of healthful eating. Understanding your HQ forces you to slllooooowww down.

If you need a good example of a healthy meal that is properly portioned, try my Dijon Salmon. Chefd will even deliver the ingredients directly to your door, so you don’t have to use brainpower at the grocery store.

Then, before you dig in, take a deep breath and a few sips of water.

Turn off your brain, which is telling you “I always have room for dessert.”

Shut down those childhood thoughts telling you “I must clean my plate.”

It’s not easy to get into this mindset of shutting down these thoughts, but you can do it! Take a few minutes to eat your food mindfully and check in with yourself as you go.

Is the feeling of hunger going away? Are you enjoying your soup? Could you stop eating now and be satisfied, even though there are a few bites left?

There is no true answer to the question, “how much should I eat?” It changes meal by meal and day by day. But conquering this feeling of being slightly satisfied will change everything.

Regardless of whether you’re eating a kale salad or Fetuccinni Alfredo, if you never eat past this feeling, you’ll never overeat too dramatically. (I’m not encouraging the alfredo fyi, just sayin’.)

Become confident listening to your body. Don’t give up on this. It’s your secret weapon to finding your healthy weight.

 

Healthier Thanksgiving 2012

 Thanksgiving Turkey

I liked this blog from last year so much that I have decided to re-post it. Some things are worthy of reading (and eating) again!

Happy almost Thanksgiving! If you are reading this, congratulations on your efforts to get through Thanksgiving with your health goals in mind! All of your efforts will add up, so take some of these suggestions to heart and your heart (and thighs and stomach and immune system) will thank you for it.

1. Be a Wo/Man with a Plan. Before you embark on your Thanksgiving day, take a minute to decide what you are going to eat, indulge in or taste. If you take a few moments before you begin to really think and plan, you will set yourself up to be successful. Sometimes a little planning is all you need to get you through the day enjoying your meal and feeling good too!

2. Take Control with Portion Control. Remember to load up on clean vegetables, salad and turkey breast. Limit the sides and desserts. Choose 2 tablespoons of 2 decadent sides to indulge in; keep the rest of your plate green and lean! Of course, you should enjoy your meal, but get leftovers out of the house or don’t take a doggie bag. Removing tempting indulgences will help you get back to your Nutritious Life on Friday!

3. Drink Up Up Up! Unwanted calories from beverages can undermine your work. Have a full glass of water or seltzer (with lemon) before the meal and match each glass of wine with a glass of water. Avoid the eggnog and fancy coffee drinks – those calories take the worst revenge and can plump you up, well . . . like a Thanksgiving turkey!

4. Heed the Need for Nutrient Density. Roasted chestnuts, a tablespoon of cranberries, roasted root vegetables, turkey breast, and a spoonful of winter squash are loaded with nutrition! Make sure you are getting these powerhouses in, in place of the sausage laden stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn bread, which may be less healthful. Making these nutritious choices on Thursday will have you feeling proud and inspired to make better choices for the rest of the long weekend!

5. Get Up and Go. Rally the family for a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood, a game of touch football or a shake- your-tail-feathers dance-a-thon. Do the best you can to move during the day!

Remember: Listen to your body! Stop eating when you are slightly satisfied even if it seems to go against the spirit of “stuffing” on Thanksgiving. ENJOY your Thanksgiving — It is one meal that should be celebrated. Keep your Nutritious Life in the forefront of your mind and best of luck with your holiday efforts!

Recipes

Pilgrim Salad

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 6

Time: 20 minutes

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and agave or honey. Add endive and frisee, toss to coat. Top with cranberries and pecans. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts  

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 4

Time: 10 active, 50 total minutes

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Trim the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves, cut them in half, lengthwise. Peel shallots and quarter. Then toss Brussels sprouts and shallots in a large bowl with oil.
  2. Transfer sprouts to a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, crisp outside and tender inside, 40 to 45 minutes. Toss the pan half way through.
  3. Transfer sprouts to a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Garlic and Lemon Haricots Verts

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 6

Time: 15 minutes

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic over low heat. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and allow garlic to sit in oil for an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Bring a large saucepan filled with 1 inch of water to a boil. Lower a steamer basket filled with haricots verts or green beans into it, tightly cover pan, and steam for 4-5 minutes, until beans are crisp tender. Drain beans.
  3. Remove garlic from butter and discard. Toss steamed beans with garlic-infused oil, lemon zest, and sea salt; serve hot.

Health(ier) Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves: 8

Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place sweet potatoes in a pot, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool.
  2. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add sugar, butter, salt and vanilla. Mash sweet potato mixture with a potato masher. Fold in 1/4 cup pecans. Scrape potato mixture into an even layer in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with canola oil in Misto spray bottle. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes, top with remaining pecans and marshmallows and bake another 5 minutes or until golden.

 

Thanksgiving Turkey

Serves: 10 lb bird serves 6 people

Time: 3 – 4 ½ hours, depending on size of bird

INGREDIENTS

Directions

  1. Combine rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and pepper in small bowl. Rub all over turkey.
    1. Roast turkey, uncovered, at 375°F, basting frequently with turkey or chicken broth. After 1 hour, baste and sprinkle with seasonings again, then make a tent with aluminum foil and cover breast loosely. Reduce heat to 325°F and continue roasting for another hour, basting occasionally.
    2. Uncover breast and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the thigh registers 165°F. This will take about 90 to 110 minutes longer, depending upon the size of turkey and oven being used.
    3. When turkey is golden brown and done, allow it to sit for 20 minutes to rest before carving. Don’t wait for the little plastic “pop-up” devices to pop, or it’s likely that the bird will be overdone and dry.
    4. If you don’t own an instant read thermometer, test to see if turkey is cooked by inserting the tines of a large fork into the upper thigh. If juice is not pink, then turkey is done.

 

Wild Rice & Bulgur Stuffing

Serves: 8

Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

Directions

  1. Preparation: Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, onions and garlic; sauté for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in wild rice. Add broth and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, place Bulgar and water in a bowl. Let soak for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool and chop coarsely.
  4. Place raisins in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  5. Stir the soaked Bulgar, pecans, raisins and parsley into the cooked wild rice. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Pumpkin Soufflé

Serves: 6

Time: 15 active, 1 hour baking

INGREDIENTS

 

Directions

 1.    Mix all ingredients in order given. Pour into well buttered baking dish. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees; let cool 15 minutes. Marshmallows can be melted to cover.

Labor of (Self) Love

Coffee On A Rainy Day
Some people are really into the New Year’s resolution thing, but I’m not a huge believer in the once a year promises – I try to make small goals for myself and work at them often. While I try to start each year fresh, Labor Day really inspires me to reevaluate what I want from my year. I’m not going to chat you up with back-to-school rallying. I will not stress you out with talk of changing your wardrobe and breaking out the boots. I really want to speak to your (and my) personal goals on this Labor Day holiday.

I want to ask you to be a partner with me as I lay the foundation for the upcoming academic year. I like to look at the mission of my private practice and make sure that I’m practicing what I preach. I need to keep my work fresh, so sitting down to do this is super important to me.

There are 8 key elements to my philosophy – I call them the “pillars” of Nutritious Life. I’m going to lay them out for you. There is a bullet with MY goal to correspond with each pillar and I have left one bullet for you in each category to add your goals. Remember to keep your goals simple and attainable. You have reached your goal if it has become a habit; at that point, set a new goal for yourself.

Eat empoweredFeel empowered putting the most nutrient rich food in your body. It’s not “I can’t eat the dessert” – it IS – “I can eat the blueberries!”  When we focus on how good we feel fueling ourselves with the best foods you will continue to be motivated to eat these foods.

Exercise steady  — Aside from burning calories exercise is important because when we exercise our bodies releases endorphins which make us feel good and motivate us to eat well, do our jobs well and simply be happy!

Drink upOur bodies are 50-75% water. The most common reason people are sluggish in the afternoon is due to dehydration. If we don’t drink enough water our bodies do not function properly, we become tired and do not metabolize food properly.

Pamper thyselfTreating ourselves to something special can have emotional and physical benefits. Simple small indulgences, like a manicure, massage, bubble bath can make us look and feel great.

Sleep deepWhen we are well rested we make better food choices, have more energy to go the gym, walk to work or take time for our favorite activities.

Sex edOxytocin – a hormone released after orgasm in men and women, through cuddling, and even by simply holding hands – acts as a soothing antioxidant and may make it easier for people to stick to their healthy eating style.

Stress lessStress increases the level of the hormone cortisol in our bodies, which in turn makes our bodies crave carbohydrates, specifically high sugar carbohydrates, and store fat around the mid-section. So, even if we don’t eat more due to stress we can still gain weight due to stress!

Live Consciously — The environment that surrounds us can impact our heath, both our mental and physical health.

OK, friends. Get cracking. Of course you can share them with me or a good friend . . . remember to reevaluate often. Happy Labor Day. Enjoy!

Start Mother’s Day Right

Mothers Day Breakfast In Bed

As corny and predictable as it is, breakfast in bed is still the ultimate treat for any mom. So if you’re lucky enough to live nearby, sneak over early Sunday morning and surprise your mother with this omelet, jazzed up with a little ginger- it’s delicious, unexpected and healthy. (And don’t forget to make two servings and crawl under the covers with her – I bet she thinks you are as cute now as you were when you were six!)

Pair the omelet with a 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt sprinkled with fragrant ground cinnamon, another proven stress buster.

Or maybe you’ve got some little munchkins who’ve been known to bring you breakfast in bed? Leave this recipe out the night before as a hint – trust me, you’ll have much less of a mess to clean up than if they attempt chocolate-chip waffles or anything in a blender!

In fact, even if you’re not in mother or daughter mode, sprinkle some of those lavender leaves into a cup of hot tea. (You can buy ’em at most health food stores.) The aroma is incredibly calming, and lavender tea has been known to relieve headaches and improve mental alertness.