Welcome to another wellness post! This is a semi-new series that is all about feeling good! I had the idea to start this series back in August of 2015, but honestly, I just couldn't muster up the courage to do it. It's a departure from what I currently share on the blog – which is mostly just healthy recipes – and is going to involve getting a lot more personal. Sharing my own personal struggles and ups and downs in my health journey isn't going to be easy, but I want to do it.
Why? Because I know that health is more than just a tasty recipe. It's about nutrition, self-care, exercise and so much more. Now you might think that because I'm cooking healthy, clean recipes all the time, that I never slip up. Well, my friends, I do. My eating is far from perfect. I totally slip up. I overindulge. I beat myself up and regret things I eat. And I struggle with body image. I'm a regular person just like you. I try my best to eat healthily, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.
So my hope with this series, not to sound too sappy or anything, is to provide a space where I can share about what's going on in my life in hopes to give you a place where you feel comfortable to share as well. I want us to come together, inspire each other and lift each other up. Because it's so much easier when you have someone to lean on.
Being that we're just starting a new year, I thought a fun first FGF topic would be to talk about getting off track (and what I do to get myself back on track). So without further ado…let's talk about the holidays.
As many of you know, I was just on vacation with my family and it was the first time in a long time that I really struggled with my eating. My family is amazing and even though they don't eat badly, they definitely don't eat as clean as I normally do. One thing that made the food situation easier was that we did rent a house instead of staying at a resort, which meant we ate every breakfast and most of our dinners at home.
But still I think my main issue wasn't necessarily the quality of what I was eating it was the quantity. I was just eating WAYYY more than I normally did. And it was almost like I couldn't stop. I couldn't just have a small smoothie for breakfast, I had to have a double-sized smoothie, plus a bowl of granola and maybe some dried mango slices on the side. It was just way more food that what my body needed.
The other issue I had was that a lot of the places we ate out didn't have great GF or DF options. I was counting on their being beans on the menu at most restaurants, but there wasn't, so most meals I ended up having a small salad and plantain chips. Like an entire plate of plantain chips… Not nutritious at all, so I ended up being starving in a few hours and then I would gorge on trail mix. Yes, trail mix isn't bad for you, but again when you eat handful after handful after handful, it's going to start catching up with you.
And then there was the drinking. I told myself going down there that I wasn't going to go overboard with the drinking and I would limit myself to like 1 or 2 glasses of wine every few days. Ummm that did NOT happen. I ended up drinking almost every single day and usually it was multiple drinks. This is way out of character for me. I wasn't getting drunk every night or anything, but we would make fresh daiquiris or pina coladas from all the fresh fruit and I had major FOMO going on.
By the time I got home I felt like crap. I wasn't happy with my body, my digestion was totally out of whack, I hadn't been exercising so I felt like I had lost all my muscle tone and I was tired. Does that mean I regret what I did? No, not at all. We had a blast and it was fun to let loose, but I think I could have done a better job with balance.
But to be transparent with you, balance isn't my strong suit. I'm usually all in or I'm all out.
Does this ever happen to you? You get a little bit off track for a day or two and then you just say, “screw it” and let yourself go until you have a date picked out in your mind that you're going to start eating healthier again? That's exactly what I did here. I gave up and told myself I would just have to deal with it when I got home.
Long story short, I'm guessing that many of you fell into similar habits over the holidays. Honestly, it's hard not to! Whether you're traveling, hosting or just relaxing at home, you probably have more decadent food around, there's likely some alcohol involved and it's easy to just let go. If this sounds familiar then just know that it's totally normal. And as hard as it might be to not beat yourself up about it. Instead, try to be kind and hop back on the bandwagon as soon as you can. Hating yourself for eating an entire plate of cookies isn't going to help 😉
Instead, we just need to move forward. Which is where I hope these little tricks might help. I don't have many rules around food, but when I'm trying to get back on track, here are 5 things that I do:
I've talked about this before, but one of the most important things we can do for our health is staying hydrated. Proper hydration helps with digestion, helps keep your skin clear, helps flush toxins from your body and helps all your internal organs function better. Drinking a lot of water in the winter can be tough, so I definitely rely a lot more heavily on my herbal teas and warm water with lemon. A few tips here:
- Don't load up on green + black teas – caffeine is a diuretic and actually makes you more dehydrated – so stick with herbal
- Drink at least half your body weight in water (or teas) every day
- Drink before you eat! Did you know that many of the times you think you're hungry you're actually just thirsty? To avoid overeating, try drinking a glass of water before your meal (or snack), wait 15 minutes and then if you're still hungry go ahead and eat – this will not only help you stay more hydrated but will also help you skip added calories
2. EAT MORE GREENS.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I bet you could have guessed this was on my list. But amping up your green intake isn't a myth. Honestly, there are so benefits to adding greens to your diet that it just makes sense. Greens are another way to rid your body of unwanted toxins and they promote cleansing. Greens are also filled with chlorophyll which helps control hunger and cravings, helps get digestion back on track, feeds the healthy flora in your gut and can help fight candida (which can be caused by too much sugar). Does that mean we have to eat salad after salad? Nope! Here are a few ways I sneak more greens into my day that don't involve salads:
- Double the amount in my morning smoothie – instead of 1 handful, I'll add 2
- Finely chop kale up and use it as the base for my dinner instead of rice or quinoa
- Make collard wraps for lunch instead of a sandwich
3. TAKE PROBIOTICS.
Chances are if you were indulging in things like sweets and alcohol during your little healthy-haitus, then the good bacteria in your gut took a hit. Without that good bacteria doing its thing inside your intestines, your digestion won't be normal and you won't be getting as many nutrients from your food. So to help give those guys some help, I like to add probiotics back to the mix. I take one per day and usually between meals (although sometimes I forget and will just take it with my lunch). I also like to add more fermented foods into my diet – I drink lots of kombucha, add kimchi to some of my meals and have been known (haven't done it yet this year) to make my own yogurt. A few things to keep in mind when you're looking for a probiotic:
- Make sure it's high quality – if you have a naturopathic doctor that you go to, I would ask them for a recommendation
- Look at the count – I like mine to be at least 15 billion
- Find a once daily one – this is more for convenience, you only have to remember to take the supplement once!
4. LIMIT GRAINS.
So this one is more of a personal choice, but I have found that it helps me get back on track more quickly. All I really do is limit my grains to one meal per day. I almost never have grains for breakfast and instead opt for a hearty smoothie bowl, lunch is usually leftovers of some sort and then dinner is most likely going to be a big salad or a big bowl of roasted veggies with some beans or tempeh. Grains don't really make much of an appearance and I've noticed that I feel a lot better. My stomach is flatter, I have more energy and my digestion is on point! (woot woot!)
5. CUT DOWN ON THE ALCOHOL.
Last but not least, you've got to cut back on the alcohol. If you don't drink already, then you're one step ahead of the game, but for those of us who do, I recommend that you try cutting back to once per week. If you can do it all the way, then go for it, but limit it as much as you can and I promise you'll feel better. You'll be consuming less empty calories, you'll be consuming less sugar, you won't be dehydrating yourself AND you'll be helping your gut heal. Does that mean you have to follow this forever? No, but I say give yourself at least two weeks and see how you feel. I bet you'll be surprised at the results!
Be honest, what do you think of these more lifestyle/advice type posts? Are you psyched about it? I'd love to hear what you think! And if you have other tips you follow for getting back on track, please do leave a comment below, the rest of us want to learn from you.
Oh, and one last thing, if you have other topics that you'd like me to cover in this wellness series, send 'em my way! You can always email me, DM me on IG or message me on FB.