As the new year approaches, many of us like to reflect upon what has worked and what hasn’t worked in regard to our diets and how we take care of our bodies. Unfortunately, many of us think about our health but once a year. The New Year’s Eve resolution often attempts to resolve whatever went wrong with last year’s commitment to do things the right way.
Instead of trying to do things the right way, why not give your plan a little space, and maybe even allow some room for mistakes and the opportunity to start again if your original plan doesn’t seem to be working?
Try implementing some of these strategies in the new year and see how you feel!
1. Give credit where credit is due. Acknowledge your successes from the previous year. Have you been eating more vegetables? Are you now reading labels and choosing foods that don’t have any sugar or salt when it simply isn’t necessary? Have you reduced your caffeine intake? Acknowledge whatever it is you do to improve your health in small ways.
2. Do not change your diet starting on January 1st. Start by eating the foods you normally do and pay particular attention to how some of these foods make you feel. Do you eat enough? Do you eat too much? Are you able to digest what you do eat? Do you have a blood sugar response that creates headaches when you eat certain foods? See if you can connect what you are eating to what you are feeling.
3. If you do anything this year, take a few days to record what you eat and how different foods make you feel. Do some some foods and drinks make you feel vital and alive, while others make you feel tired and generally stagnate your energy? Embrace the food journal!
4. Reduce and Replace. Do you drink too much coffee? Eat to many doughnuts? Salt everything you eat? Start by reducing the addictions: caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, refined flour, and refined salt. Replace the addictions with something that you love that does not have the jolting effect that these items do.
5. Pay attention to the seasons. Recognize that there is a time for everything and that the dead of winter may not be the best time to be eating watermelon. Why is this? During the winter months, your body needs heat. Consume warm foods and warm drinks during the winter months. This does not mean consuming more hot chocolate or apple pie, instead, choose an herbal chai tea or baked apples with just a hint of cinnamon and butter.
6. Use your intuition and follow up by checking in with someone who knows. Do you feel “fight or flight” if you don’t get regular meals? Does cheese sit in your stomach for hours? Do you feel irritable after eating wheat? Do you break out after eating certain foods? These are your body’s cues that something isn’t right with the way you are eating. If you can’t figure it out, check in with someone who can!
7. Give your digestion a break. If you have managed to pinpoint a digestive issue in your food journal, the winter months are NOT the time to do a cleanse (I will outline a plan for a cleanse as we get closer to spring). Instead, try focusing on foods that are easier for you to digest but are going to keep you warm and your blood sugar in balance. Reach for cooked vegetables, vegetable soups, stews, and chili. Experiment with using bone broths instead of meat in your meals to give yourself a bit of digestive break without skimping on the protein.
8. Slow down. Take the time to prepare food and enjoy what you are eating. It doesn’t have to be complicated. The winter months are the perfect time for one-pot meals. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you enjoy what is in your mouth? Would you make this meal for a friend?
9. Do you recognize when you are hungry? Do you recognize when you are full? Learn to pay attention to your body’s cues.
10. Drink more. Many of us are dehydrated and need to drink more water, herbal tea, kombucha, coconut water or other beverages that replenish our cells and keep us alert. Next time you are tired in the afternoon reach for some mineral or coconut water and see if this helps.
11. Eat regular meals and focus on the quality of food you eat over the quantity of food. Experiment with eating 75% of your meal and leave some room in your stomach to simply breath.
12.Move your body. Try getting into the habit of going for a walk after you eat to help aid digestion and to keep you breathing. For many people, moving needs to come before any changes are made to the diet.
What is the right way, anyway? There is no right way, simply do what works for you. Stay with a few of these strategies until it feels right for you to move on. Make sure you feel comfortable making the changes. For some people this will be a week, for others a month, while others still will spend the winter months working on just a few of these steps. It’s OK to be where you are.
I would love to know how you plan to take care of yourself in 2012. The comments section is great place to support and encourage each other. Please share your experiences with all of us!