How to eat mindfully during holidays

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The festive season is a complicated time for all of us, who are working so hard to keep healthy, eat healthy. It wasn’t any different for me either. My husband and I decided we were going to allow ourselves to let go on this one day. For starters we did not call it the usual “Cheat Day” we called it  “Break the Rules Day”. 

 

Here are few questions I asked myself:

 

  1. Why do I want to Cheat? Am I looking for comfort? Is it a memory I am trying to recreate? Am I trying to fulfil an emotional need? Is it something I want to do to fit in?

  2. Is my Cheat day a treat Day?

  3. If it is, then why would I treat myself with something that I know is not good for me? 

 

Answering these questions, I found the answers got deeper each time. I saw patterns emerging, I discovered something more about myself. Why I had certain cravings, how my moods and my feelings affected my eating choices. My relationship with food has changed now. It was definitely not an overnight change. It took asking myself these questions constantly, remembering to ask them and then keeping it up. My dialogue around food has changed:  it is about nourishment rather than comfort or the urge to sate a feeling or a craving. I hope my journey helps you with your relationship too. Just keep asking yourself these questions, everytime and see what you discover. 

 

Getting back to Break the Rules’s Day, I made up my mind to eat white rice, grain of any kind, sweets packed with ghee, and all the dairy that i’d been off for such a long time. The day arrived, I was excited and went into it with a sense of curiosity and quite a bit of concern: what if I lose all my hardwork by doing this? I woke up and found I was looking forward to my green juice. Noticing what my body was craving, I went ahead and made my juice and enjoyed the fresh burst of energy that I usually feel after I drink it. The rest of the day consisted of eating everything that was available in all shapes and sizes, all styles of cooking, healthy, unhealthy,sugary, salty, no filter.  

 

My body’s reaction which was almost instantaneous 

 

  • I felt uncomfortable, heavy, bloated and lethargic.

  • I didn’t want to move. Not a nice feeling to have on a day when you have a houseful of guests. 

  • My tongue was heavily coated and felt phlegmy

  • Even though the desire to go crazy and eat lots was high it was like my gut was done. I noticed towards the evening I had no appetite at all. I was still full! 

 

The morning after reactions

 

  • I Struggled to get out of  bed

  • Did not want to do my exercises

  • Dealt with guilt for a bit

  • The weighing scale exhibited symptoms of an unhealthy diet. 

  • Felt dehydrated. 

  • Sudden attack of cravings: especially for sugar (and the attempt not to consume sugary things led to cravings for salty things)

 

I could not go on like this! I was not about to let one day ruin my months of hard work! Below is a list of things I did over the next week to get back on track. And yes it took that long for me to feel my lighter, happier self

 

  • Before going into this Break the rules day I set a start day and an end day and stuck to it. 

  • I made an action plan to get back to my normal healthier self.  

  • I kept telling myself that this will pass and all is not lost. One day is not going to be my undoing! ( I said this loud and out many times)

  • I kept telling myself that any tiny step I took towards my health was good, encouraged myself and reassured myself. (This also i said loud and out many times)

  • I drank loads of water! Sure the number of trips to the bathroom increased but it felt like the right thing to do.

  • I sat in the sun more over the next few days. It felt like I was being energised and I naturally felt the urge to move around. 

  • The most difficult part for me was dealing with the sudden sugar cravings. I substituted the sugar with my favourite nuts and seeds. I ate them slowly one by one, savouring them.  

 

I got over it! I am back! 

 

There will be days when you won’t be able to stick to your diet or your exercise but what matters is how you get yourself back. 

This experiment has given me so much confidence about my own health and now I see how ONLY I  have control over it and no one else.  I now live my life with more awareness towards my health and I urge all of you to constantly ask yourselves these important questions. Make a plan and discover more. 

 

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Happy Holidays……….

Tis the season to be jolly……and fit!!

The year comes to an end and it comes with the much needed holidays, relaxation, family time, vacations, celebrations…………..AND New Year resolutions!

Based on studies, the majority of people tend to gain additional weight during the holiday season that ends with the New Year celebrations. Excessive eating is claimed to be the main cause for the additional weight gain, but it is also due to lack of physical activity and exercise.

A lot of us tend to set aside our fitness routines during the holidays since we believe that we do not have enough time to perform our workouts. This is followed by New Year’s guilt!

 Come January and most of the gyms and fitness centers are packed with fresh members. Always bear in mind that you can still enjoy the holidays and stay fit at the same time. 

1. Eat Before Heading Out

First, it is best that you eat something before heading out to visits, trips or family dinners. By doing so, you will no longer be tempted to eat a lot or overindulge yourself since you have already eaten. A salad is quick and handy, also a fruit.

2. Select The Cheats

Make sure to select the cheats that you eat in a wise manner. You should choose something that you can only enjoy during the holiday season and not something that is readily available all the time. It could be one mithai or a dessert. Not more. Moderation is the key.

3. Avoid Skipping Meals

Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! Even though it can be tempting to skip on certain meals, believing that it will make up for the cheats you consumed in the previous day, don’t do it because it will only lead to counterproductive results.

4. Drink With Moderation

It is best to regulate your drinking since alcohol, coke or other juices will only add more calories to the ones you already eaten! A glass or two of wine at a weekend gathering is OK. Also the finger foods had with drinks add up, and we don’t count these as extra food!

5. Be Active

You should still perform your fitness routine whenever possible and if you can’t do that, simply walk more, park your car some distance away or just use the stairs, do home cleaning, finidh projects you didn’t find time for in the year, play with the kids, take your dog for walks…… go hiking!!

6. Set Realistic Goals

You should set realistic exercise objectives. Aim for at least half an hour per day and you will be very happy when you will achieve that. If you plan one hour or more and not achieve it, you will only end up disappointed.

Also make sure to set realistic diet plans! Trying to restrain yourself totally from some foods will only make you eat more. Feel free to enjoy the treats that you really love, but in small portions. Cut the carbs, you can still enjoy your fruit, veggies and protein rich foods.

7. Drink A Lot Of Water

This can satiate your appetite as well as keep you hydrated at all times. And it will also prevent a possible hangover if you overdo it with alcohol. 2-3 litres of water a day is good.

8. Mind the dinner

Distribute your meals evenly throughout the day, and do not eat everything at once. Let a cheat meal be earlier in the day. Eat your dinner earlier and keep it light. And have a nice walk before going to bed.

9. Prioritize Your Workouts

Try to do them early in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping or afternoons when everyone is napping. This way you will also avoid remarks like “Oh, come on! It’s holiday time…”

Nine simple tips that will help you avoid gaining weight during the end of the year, but will also allow you to enjoy yourself and have a great time with your loved ones.

Happy Holidays!

Deepa Kamath
Senior Nutritionist at Navitae

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