For years I struggled with overeating on the holidays. And, choosing foods that made me feel like crap. The more unhealthy they were, the faster my fingers inched towards them. The faster I inched towards them, the more my guilt set in.
It was like this little game that I played with myself. I would get myself all psyched up over this being the year — the year of control. I would visualize what I was going to do, what I would eat, and how I would put the kabash on my cravings. I would drive to the event with this air of confidence and a fire in my soul, telling myself that I was really in control here, and not my cravings. I would walk through the door, spy the food table, survey what I was not going to guiltfully indulge in, and then engage in seemingly distracting conversation. And as the day unfolded, the conversations became less stimulating, and my willpower started to wane, I would utter the dreaded words of defeat to myself…
It’s ok if I have just one.
I deserve just one.
Everyone else is having just one.
It was all over from there. I didn’t have a plan of attack for after just one. Just one was the unraveling and just one turned into about just five.
If I can be honest, it was probably at least just 10 [*sigh*].
I realized that I made 3 paramount mistakes —
- I thought willpower was enough and I didn’t have a plan past when my willpower failed me.
- I never realized that cravings and lack of control could actually be a need coming from somewhere else.
- I didn’t plan ahead by bringing or preparing foods that were my just in case — just in case there were no healthier options to fall back on.
Does this sound familiar? Do you find yourself struggling to put the kabash on your cravings and then find yourself in a proverbial pickle of sugar highs and self-defeat?
I am not perfect — I still struggle at times, but so much has changed! Since those uncontrollable struggles, I have learned some valuable lessons and have healed myself that I can now walk away in victory and with less digestive distress. Let me help to guide you this year…
In this blog, we are going to focus on the food preparation and some healthy meals that you can create to be your just in case. In next week’s blog, we are going to focus on overeating and the learning how you can push yourself away from your pitfalls with more success and less guilt!
Taking healthy food options with you can be a saving grace. You can have all the willpower humanly possible, but if there are no healthy food options, you will still be out of luck. The two food taking tips that have saved me year after year are:
- Take a veggie dish. Many gatherings are filled with carbs, unhealthy fats, meat, starchy veggies (aka carbs), and sugar. Lots of sugar. Veggies can be a hard find. Taking a salad or a healthfully cooked vegetable dish is a fabulous choice. It’s ok to indulge in not so healthy options, but make them the side dishes and your veggie dish the main course.
- Bake or prepare a healthy dessert. If you are craving something sweet and you know that your dessert is a better option, then you have a fall back. You also are gifting the gift of health to everyone else and opening up others to foods that will better support them. It’s a win-win!
A mix between healthy fats and carbs are the perfect combination to squash cravings and help you feel more satisfied. Here are 3 of my favorite recipes to take with me to gatherings and holidays. Enjoy!
Bacon Braised Brussel Sprouts
(Recipe from “The Underground Holiday Recipe Guide”; Recipe by Chef Lance Roll)
Note: If you are vegetarian, you can forego the bacon and use vegetable broth instead of the chicken bone broth. If you are vegan, do the same as vegetarian, but also use coconut oil instead of the butter.
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 4 ounces uncured bacon, cut into strips (a.k.a lardons)
- 1 leek (diced) or 1 cup of diced onion
- couple cloves of garlic, sliced (to taste)
- handful fresh basil, minced
- 1 cup Chicken Bone Broth (or your own broth or water)
- sea salt (to taste)
- pepper (to taste)
- grass-fed butter to finish
- Trim your Brussels sprouts by removing the bottom edge, slicing the sprouts in half, and washing them in a sink with running water. Set aside.
- If using leeks, prepare your leeks by trimming the top 3 inches. Then cut the leek length wise in half and then into “half moons”. If using onions, dice them. You can use both, if you desire.
Note: Leeks are typically very dirty, so they will need to be rinsed and drained thoroughly. Do this by placing the leeks in the colander and submerging them in a bowl of water, mixing vigorously to separate the layers and allow the dirt to drop to the bottom. Lift out the colander, refill the bowl with water, and repeat. Set aside.
- Slice your garlic.
- Now it is time to get the pan hot. Add your fat of choice, cut your bacon into lardons and add to the pan. Allow them to render for 5 minutes and adjust heat accordingly.
- Now add your leeks and/or onions, letting them sweat another 3 to 5 minutes to allow onions to release flavor. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to encourage this process and then add the minced fresh basil. The basil will bloom at this point.
- Add your Brussels sprouts and gently toss or stir to coat with the fat. When the sprouts begin to change color, cook another 3 minutes and then add the broth. The pan will sizzle and any dripping on the bottom will come off the bottom (known as deglazing).
- Cover with lid and turn heat down to medium (braising). Give the sprouts a stir every 7 to 10 minutes, periodically checking for doneness. When done (15-20 minutes), the Brussels sprouts will have a deep green color and will be soft.
- When ready, adjust the seasoning, add the butter toss, and serve. Sprinkle with a little fresh basil to garnish.
(Recipe from The JERF Cookbook; Recipe by George Bryant)
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 2 cups almonds chopped or slivered
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup 100% raw organic honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder
- cinnamon to taste
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine all of your wet ingredients.
- Microwave on high for 20-30 seconds to help it mix better.
- Once warm, pour your wet ingredients over your dry seed and nut mixture and mix well with a fork to ensure you coat everything.
- Place your mixture on a foil lined baking sheet and spread thin and evenly.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and stir around to ensure nothing burns. Put it back in the bowl and then re-spread it on the baking sheet.
- Place back in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove and let cool. It tastes better cold and also develops its crunchiness as it cools.
- You can eat it by hand or Serve in a bowl with some almond or coconut milk and enjoy.
- 1 bunch organic kale
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 1 red pepper chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 avocado chopped
- Sliced red onion
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Lemon juice to taste (optional)
- Chop kale and parsley in a food processor or finely with knife. Set aside.
- Chop red pepper and mix into greens.
- Add sea salt and knead into vegetables.
- Add cumin, mix well.
- Add chopped avocado and onion, mixing well
- Add a splash of lemon juice, if desired, but only add when ready to serve.
Eating healthy during the holidays does not have to be boring! And, it doesn’t mean that you have to eat unhealthfully or give in to all your cravings. It just takes a little bit of delicious preparation!
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