In a sea of ‘bounce back from the holidays‘ posts this week, I thought I would take a more future-focused approach to my nutrition advice. Because, let’s be honest: two days of feasting won’t really impact your health all that much.
However, if you use the recent Thanksgiving weekend as the excuse to take a slow, sugar-filled slide to January one, it is going to be a problem. And with cooler days, typical fall overwork- and social stress in combination with cold and flu season, your body needs all the strength it can get.
Now’s the time to tighten up your self-care game.
Your first offence? Create a few self-care rituals that you can stick to for the rest of the year (and better, yet, life.). Ones that won’t require the all-or-nothing mindset that alternates between dieting or overindulgence.
And I’m not talking about rituals that take hours while some magical fairy nanny takes care of your kids in the morning so you can do yoga in a crystal-infused infrared sauna while journalling about your meditation goals. Super cool if you’ve got the time…not so helpful for those of us for whom time is in short supply. So here goes…
Build a better breakfast
Breakfast is usually the easiest meal to ritualize as there are few social occasions hosted over breakfast and most of us find it easy to eat a similar breakfast most days. Starting the day right will give you a win that will give you more health-focused confidence the rest of the day.
What you want here is a high fibre, high plant-food breakfast that will help stabilize blood sugars and satisfy your appetite all morning long. You have to experiment to find the right breakfast for you: some can stay full all morning on a smoothie…others want to gnaw their arm off in a half hour, despite adding protein and healthy fats. Others love a morning bowl of oats; some need a heavy protein breakfast like a tofu scramble to keep them going.
No time in the morning? Choose a make-ahead like overnight oats or a chia pudding. Be realistic about what you like…and what you can make time for…for real sustainability.
Move your body at least three times a week
This is no gentle stroll. You’ve got to, like, really sweat. It will increase your motivation to eat well (bonus!) in addition to helping burn off stress-induced cortisol and increase your mental wellbeing. Believe me, I get not feeling like you can make the time, but you can. It doesn’t have to cost anything. You can work out at home or walk/jog for 30 minutes if that’s all you can manage. As long as you sweat.
When it’s miserable out (am dreading the return of the Vancouver rain!), it’s easy not to want to go outdoors but you’ll feel so much better if you do. Right now, I am doing one 6AM Lagree West class every two weeks and doing 1-2 4k jogs a week with maybe a home yoga session or two in there.
Consider an adaptogen
If stress and overwork is getting to you, consider an adaptogen (after clearing it with your doc if you have a medical condition or are on meds!). Adaptogens help the body do just that – adapt to stress – and while not all are evidence-based, two of my faves – rhodiola and ashwagandha – are.
Quality counts, as dose potency. Sun Potion has great formulations, as does Rhoziva and Moon Juice (for rhodiola) and Botanica. I have no financial association with any of those brands…I just like them and don’t want you to buy junk!
Relegate sugar to social occasions
Whenever you know that overindulgence is on the horizon, tightening up your everyday food habits really helps. This is the real definition of balance: not depriving yourself of social fun, but making room for it with a body so healthy and well-nourished it can handle the indulgence.
It also enhances your enjoyment of the actual feast; a treat feels like more of a treat if it’s not everyday!
Start ditching sugar from your coffee drinks, yogurt, cereal…anywhere it lurks. Read ingredients and look for foods without added sugar – not artificially sweetened alternatives that only foster your sweet tooth further. This will help you keep your blood sugars in check, and minimize inflammatory insulin spikes.
Make half your plate vegetables
Seeing my favourite healthy eating rule here shouldn’t surprise you…but now’s the time to really commit if you haven’t already. It’s actually not that hard to get the veggies you need; what needs to happen, however, is a mindset shift that an indulgent meal doesn’t need to include veggies. So sure, have that Saturday night burger…but get a side of roasted broccoli or some kale salad to go with it. It’s about not losing out on nutrients that foster metabolic resilience.
Seems simple, right? Almost too simple…but that’s the point.
Consistency is key. If you can commit to these self-care rituals this fall, you will feel good when everyone else is making lethargy-motivated plans for some ridiculous detox come January.