Feeling out of whack after indulging over the holidays? Learn how to establish long-term habits in this post so that you can bounce back after the holidays regret-free.
Author: Uriell Carlson
Here we are, another holiday season is already over and it’s the new year. Happy New Year! Now, I have a mission for you: do some eavesdropping when you’re out and about during the next few weeks. I can guarantee you that you’ll hear an amped up buzz about the diets, cleanses and fasting parties (that’s not actually a thing, but I think you get the picture) that people have planned for this time of year. Maybe you’ve been there before, and that’s okay, but I hope that what I’m about to write is a bit of reprieve from that.
As a dietitian/nutritionist and athlete, I consider myself lucky to spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about, and enjoying food. I’m a big believer that all foods have their place, anything can be enjoyed in moderation, and that no major food group should ever be eliminated. In today’s fad diet world, this can be a hard balance to find. Luckily, there’s no better time than now! Here are my top five food and nutrition tips to help you kick off the new year in charge and confident with building a nutrition plan that works for you, no matter what 2018 decides to throw your way.
1. (Meal) Plan Ahead:
When it comes to setting yourself up to eat food that will fuel you, whether in sport or in daily life, there’s a handful of simple ingredients you can have on hand that will give you a template for any meal of the day. Aim to have one of each of the following categories prepped and ready:
Whole Grain/Carbohydrate: rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.
Protein: eggs, high quality meat and seafood, tofu, beans, nuts/seeds
Greens/Vegetables: fresh greens, roasted veggies, a jar of kimchi, cabbage
Seasoning: lemons/lime, Maldon salt, EVOO, your favorite vinegar, fresh herbs
This arsenal is completely yours to define. Make it your own based on some of your favorite staples. When it comes to any meal of the day, all of your boxes will be checked off if you have a complex carbohydrate, some protein, a vegetable and any combination of seasonings. My current favorite is short grain brown rice seasoned with olive oil, topped with a fried egg and a big handful of arugula. Give it all a splash of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and it’s perfection in about 8 minutes.
2. Take a Minute to Get Intuitive:
Life is nuts, I think we are all aware of that. How often do you eat sitting at the table without a screen or some other distraction in front of your face? It’s easy to get caught up in eating while driving, posting on Instagram or reading emails, but try to eat without any of these distractions and see if it changes anything. You might feel full sooner, experience less digestive issues later on or even realize that what you’re eating isn’t even what you actually want. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to help you tap into the intuitive side of eating:
Am I actually hungry? (or just bored, anxious, surrounded by food, etc…)
Is this what I really want? (for example, I’m eating vanilla ice cream because it’s the only option, but I like chocolate a lot more!)
How will I feel after eating this? (this can be related to digestion or emotions)
3. Write Down Everything You Eat for a Few Days:
This can be an eye-opener for many reasons. Maybe you find that you eat the same thing every single day and it’s super boring (good to ask if you’re meeting micronutrient requirements if this is the case). But, most likely, you find out a little bit more about yourself and your eating habits. One rule: be honest and don’t change just because you’re writing it down. I promise you’ll figure out something worth telling your friends about. You might even be able to pinpoint why your stomach hurts after lunch or realize that you didn’t eat for 6 hours and had a right to be sensitive that one night.
4. A Recipe:
I can’t write something about food without giving you a recipe! This is one of my favorites because I can make it to have for the week ahead:
Uri’s Chia Seed Pudding
- 1 can full fat coconut milk (shake before opening)
- 3/4 C milk of any type – cow, almond, soy, etc.
- 1/2C + 1TBS chia seeds
- 2 T maple syrup, agave or honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Pour the coconut milk into a large flat-bottomed bowl or dish (such as a Pyrex). Whisk until smooth. Add chia seeds and immediately whisk until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and whisk to incorporate. The chia will start to expand and absorb the liquid, so make sure you have some extra space in the dish! Let the mixture sit out on the counter for at least 20 minutes, mixing every 5-10 minutes to ensure the chia absorbs without clumping. Then, cover and leave in fridge overnight to settle. Serves 6-8.
Use this as a breakfast, snack or for a post-workout recovery snack. With this recipe, you have the protein (+ healthy fat + fiber - bonus!) covered, so it’s up to you to choose your carbohydrate and make that your topping (especially important if you’re having it post-workout). My go-to is some granola and/or fresh fruit. But, hey, if you don’t have either of those, get creative with a spoonful of jam, some maple syrup, and frozen berries, or whatever is calling your name. Do you have a ridiculous amount of gingerbread men sitting around? Call it a gingerbread crumble! What I’m trying to get at here is that it doesn't have to be complicated - you do you!
5. Ask Yourself This….
I have a number of clients that come to me telling me that they tried this or that diet and it really worked. Until they stopped it. That’s just the thing with diets, they all stop somewhere because they become too restrictive, expensive, demanding, etc. I’m going to go ahead and plug some wise words of advice from Dr. Allen Lim, because it’s something that has stuck with me forever. He once told me I should only ask my clients one question, which is this: “does your diet make your friends want to hang out with you?” It might seem funny at first, but it’s also a really good question. We’re not all in this life to be perfect and, while food is a very important part of our health, it can also be a detriment, whether we’re talking physical or mental health.
In the new year, I hope that we can all find a sustainable approach to food and nutrition routines that works for each of our individual lifestyles. Finding what works for you probably won’t be in the pages of the next fad diet book or on the internet. Instead, it’s a series of small changes the become sustainable because they’re not too drastic or limiting. For me, sustainable means relying on whole foods (as in real food not the grocery store...but the store can, of course, be a good place to find that real food), everything in moderation (have a cookie and enjoy it!), and never eliminating any major food group entirely. May we all find our happy place this year!
Uriell (better known as Uri) is a registered dietitian/nutritionist living in Breckenridge, CO. She is the owner of Whole Life Nutrition, a private practice nutrition counseling business that focuses on real food and an anti-diet mentality. She is also the Junior MTB Program Director and an endurance coach for the Summit Endurance Academy and she works as a mountain bike skills coach for VIDA Mtb Series. Uri rides for Juliana Bicycles and is a Skratch Labs Ambassador. Her favorite events are multi-day enduro races because they include full days in the backcountry and good food is always involved! Find out more about her at www.wholelifebreck.com or on IG at @uri_carlson.