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Tips

Healthy Habits Gifts for Under $30

I love to share my favorite things with you all.  I honestly believe that if you have some of the right tools for your time at the kitchen counter or at the dining table, it can be easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Check out the suggestions from 2011 and 2012 as well!

I do confess, however, that I am a fan of kitchen gadgets.  I certainly don't pull out a little chopper when one knife and 20 seconds does the trick, but a few things actually tend to spice things up in the kitchen.   

You can nab these items on Amazon Prime (links attached) and get them in two days.

Toss and Chop Salad Tongs

Want a salad, but don't feel like All. That. Chopping? Love when your salad is perfectly tossed with dressing sticking to every single piece?  These tongs are going to be your new favorites!  Seriously, I put in whole lettuce leaves, very roughly chopped peppers (cut in quarters, with stems removed), and all those other veggies with dressing and work my way to the most perfectly chopped and combined salad you could hope for.  If you get nothing else, get these!

EcoJarz- Mason Jar Lids

Who loves eating and drinking out of glass more than out of plastic?  I sure do.  Now, plastic is lighter and can be more convenient at times, but - even though you can get BPA free plastic - I'd much rather drink out of glass.  Water tastes better.  Juices look prettier.  Glass doesn't stain.  I've been digging all sorts of glass containers available nowadays.  These lids convert simple mason jars into attractive drinking containers.  Snag some stainless straws too while you are at it. 

BNTO - Small containers for Mason Jars

Again, I love being able to utilize glass jars for food and drink.  These are a great way to take a salad and keep your dressing separate, hummus and veggies, or even cereal with your non-dairy milk.

Citrus Reamer

I cannot believe that I only recently got one of these.  My cousin and I exchange kitchen gadgets with one another - continuously sharing our favorite things.  Squeezing one lemon or lime is no biggie, but if you want to squeeze more than a few, this baby comes in really handy. Plus it really extracts a lot of the juice.  I love this one because it catches the seeds. 

Vacu Vin Wine Saver

Every good cook deserves to enjoy a glass of wine if he wants while in the kitchen.  Only problem is what to do if you won't be sharing the bottle over dinner?  Enjoy one (or two) nice glasses and then save that wine from turning to vinegar by removing the air with this gadget.  Who am I kidding?  You already have one of these, I'm sure.

Don't forget to try some of my other recommended products for kiddos and grown-ups!

Cheers,

Wendy (The Broccoli Hugger)

Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Mint

Tip #5: Add it in to Weigh Less

Mint! This little green herb is so powerful that you don't even need to eat it, just a mere whiff can help to curb your appetite, make you more alert, and jumpstart your energy. 

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You certainly can & should eat it, however if ya like it! It will even soothe your stomach if you overindulge. . . 

Hmmm. . . maybe those Mint Juleps for Derby aren't such a bad idea after all. Sorry, Kentucky friends, I've searched high and low. The bourbon's not gonna help you to lose weight, however 

I like mint muddled into soda water or blended with frozen strawberries & dates for a simple smoothie. It's also commonly found in one of my favs, tabbouleh.

You can find all 20 tips at the Broccoli Hugger Facebook page.  Make sure to "Like" us to stay in touch!

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Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Spicy Foods

Tip #4: Add it in to Weigh less

Heat things up with hot and spicy foods.

Eating spicy foods can help you to shed weight by boosting your metabolic rate for awhile after consumption. Hot foods also help to curb your appetite so you might just take in less calories at that meal. 

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You can add in some cayenne or chili powder to soup. Toss some red pepper flakes onto your roasted veggies. Top your tater with salsa. Add some tabasco to your pizza. . . whatever you can tolerate (in terms of spiciness). 

There’s evidence to suggest that if you consume spicy foods regularly the impact begins to wear off. No wonder. . . I would have wasted away by now with the amount of spice I like to consume in my food (& Bloody Marys!)

Click Here for Tip #5

 

Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Wine

Tip #2: Add it in to Weigh Less

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Its RED wine. . .

Now don’t get carried away. Studies show that women who have {just ONE appropriately sized} glass of red wine daily have trimmer waists. There’s several theories on why this: digesting the alcohol my trigger your body to burn calories & the antioxidant found in grape skin may help to inhibit fat storage.

I’ve got my own theory. . . Doesn’t sipping a glass of wine set the tone for a relaxing, slower paced meal- fully enjoying the smells and tastes associated with all that you are eating (& drinking). If a glass of wine DOES put you in a state of mindful consumption, it might be okay for you to add in. If it doesn’t, it might not be worth it.

 Friendly reminder - because I need it too - the beneficial properties of red wine fade away after more than one glass.

Click Here for tip #3

  

Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Movement

Tip #3: Add it in to Weigh Less 

Move More! This is a different take on "exercise," though, so I promise you will want to read on. 

We all know that if you exercise more, you might lose weight. That's NOT what I am talking about here, though. I'm talking about adding in just a wee-bit more movement when you can in your normal day.

I learned this from Ellen Degeneres's trainer, John Pierre, so it's a good one, promise!

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Spend only one minute - 60 seconds - moving a wee bit more every waking hour. Here's what I propose: set an alert on your phone to remind you to do one minute of movement whenever the chime sounds. It might look something like this. . . Before work, the chime sounds twice. . . you do 10 squats, 10 pushups, and 20 crunches each time. At work when it sounds you simply get up and move around or go to the bathroom and do a few squats or pushups on the wall. At home the alarm sounds and you get three more sets of pushups, squats, and crunches before bed. At the end of the day, you've done a minimum of 50 squats, 50 pushups, and 100 crunches!!! And you haven't even gone to the gym or dreaded any workout.

Plan to do something so crazy-easy that you will happily do it every hour. I.e. I don't mind to do drop and give you ten every hour, but if I had to give you 20, I might dread it and skip. Nope! Keep it easy peasy. You'll likely get stronger and just want to do more reps each time or for a longer duration as time goes by. 

Click Here for Tip #4

 

Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Broccoli

Tip #1: Add it in to Weigh Less

But of course, first up is Broccoli!

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The broc's got lots of the good stuff ya need to take off the L-B's. Vitamin C helps your body to absorb calcium which helps to speed up your body's metabolism. Broccoli has plenty of both, not to mention it's rich in fiber, low in fat, & low in calories. As an extra special bonus, some of the phytochemicals (nutrients only found in plant foods) have been shown to literally stop cancer cells dead in their tracks! 

Why don't ya add some raw broc to your salad, chop some up for dipping, or toss some into your stir fry?  Broccoli Hugs to you! 

Click Here for Tip #2

 

Beat the Booze

While you are out buying beverages and snacks for New Year’s Eve, make sure you have these things in the house to help minimize your risk of a hangover or simply to counteract the damage that even a bit of booze does to your body.  I’d like to share a few natural ways to fight those demons brought on by your favorite cocktails. 

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*It goes without saying that you can avoid a hangover by not drinking too much (or not at all).  You can also stick to the clear beverages, don’t mix alcohol types, stay hydrated, and make sure to eat enough food.  

Asparagus-  A new study says that you should eat some asparagus before indulging.  Maybe you can make that one of the New Year’s Eve appetizers.  The study found that asparagus can minimize the pain of a hangover and help to detoxify the liver.  

Coconut Water- When we drink, we become dehydrated and lose electrolytes. Coconut water helps to replace those electrolytes.  It also does so without any of the sugar, artificial dyes, and other junk you find in sports drinks.  Use this in your fruity cocktail or save it for the morn for your smoothie.

Foods rich in B6- B vitamins are depleted when we drink.  You can take a B complex vitamin or make sure to ingest foods rich in B6, which is impacted the most while imbibing.  Chickpeas, bananas, sunflower seeds, and potatoes are all good sources.  Eat some hummus and veggies, grab a handful of sunflower seeds, or snack on a banana before bed.  I wish that I could say that french fries would be a good option, but by the time you slice, fry, and salt those taters, you lose too much of the B6 benefit for it to be worthwhile.  Bummer.

Extra Vitamin C- Vitamin C helps your liver to process alcohol, so use OJ or tomato juice as your mixer of choice, have a big glass before bed, or/and first thing in the morning.  No wonder I love those Bloody Marys so much. 

Wheatgrass- Do a shot that's actually good for you! A one ounce shot is equal to 2.5lbs of leafy greens. Alcohol has an acidic affect on your body. Wheatgrass (and other leafy greens) are alkalinizing, thus helping to neutralize that acidity.  It also aids in detoxification and provides oxygen to brain and liver cells that are damaged when you indulge. 

Also wise man once told me that you won’t get hungover if you dance, so when all else fails. . . shake it (and burn some calories too!)

Broccoli Hugger's Favorites for less than $30

Here are a few things that I have really enjoyed using in my plant-based kitchen this year.  Treat a friend!  Treat yourself!

Garlic Rocker (by Joseph Joseph*).  This will blow your mind. Really! I use garlic daily and I've tried every press or mincing technique possible. This one "rocks!" Please don’t use the pre-chopped stuff that’s kept in preservatives. When garlic, and other things in the allium family, like onions, are chopped, allicin, the disease-fighting compound, is released.  If you use the pre-chopped stuff, you might kill vampires with your breath, but you won't kill as much bacteria. Fresh is best!  Garlic is one of the G-BOMBS, from the onion family and you should be having some daily for optimum disease prevention and health promotion. (*Every little thing they make looks neat!  If only I were just starting to stock my kitchen. . .)

Non-stick cooking pan.  I am sure that you already know that you can cook with these and avoid using butter or oil, but have you tried it?  I've been using mine every single day since I've started to cook no oil dishes (Thanks to the wise words of Chef AJ!)  Carmelizing onions, no butter necessary.  Sauteeing mushrooms, nope, the liquid from the 'shrooms is enough to wet the pan.

Wooden tongs.  You need some good tongs to toss your salad, right?  You must already have a fabulous wooden salad bowl and you certainly don't want to scratch it all up, do you? They flip backwards and fold up tightly in the drawer.

Potato ricer.  Did you know that you shouldn’t mix your potatoes up with a mixer?  It makes them gluey. While you're at it, add in steamed cauliflower to your potatoes.  It gives you some more cruciferous veggies in your diet.  (My kids do not even notice.  In fact, my daughter says mine are the best evvvveeerrrr!)

Books!! Books! And More Books. You cannot go wrong with your first or 500th book on plant-based nutrition or plant-based cooking. Really. I've started to list some books that I like at the Broccoli Hugger store's "Recommended Products" section, but there are many, many more that I need to list.  Essentially, you cannot go wrong with any books by Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Barnard, Dr. Esselystn, Dr. Campbell, Rip Esselystn, Kris Carr, Juileanna Hever, or Kathy Freston.  Some good cookbook authors are Chef AJ, Lindsay Nixon, and Dreena Burton.  Many of the authors that discuss the benefits of a plant-based diet also offer recipes in their books to get you started.

Cheers!

Effortless Four Day Cleanse

Three pounds in four days.  Yep, I know that some of you only care about weight loss, so you can stop reading here. . . NO please don’t. . . there is so much more to a cleanse or detox program than simply shedding a few pounds!!

I just completed Dr. John Douillard’s Four Day Short Home Cleanse and it didn’t even cut into my weekend.  It was easy.  I wasn’t hungry or tired.  I feel light and energized.  I have re-set my eating patterns and am better poised to make healthy decisions going into all of the Holiday celebrations in the coming weeks.

Free Short Home Cleanse eBook

I wouldn't recommend that someone embark on a particular program without first having done it myself.  I’ve participated in the Colorado Cleanse (14 day) program before, but wanted to give this shortened version a shot.   Ayurveda is a form of traditional medicine dating back to 2,500 BC.  It’s described as “the knowledge for long life.”  For the purposes of this cleanse, however, the most important things to understand are that Ayurveda advocates for creating an environment for the body to heal itself and detoxify naturally, eating only meals (no snacking), and eating seasonally.  In these four short days, I gained a newfound appreciation for those things. 

Benefits of Natural Healing & Detoxifcation

  • Feeling light (and actually achieving some weight loss)- I’m more of a girl that goes by how I feel verses what the scale says.  I do feel lighter and leaner, but for those of you that measure success on the scale, yes, I did lose a few pounds.  Although you can also lose weight on the Diet Mountain Dew and Twizzler diet (I know this from my crappy-eating-but-looking-good-diet days), this is a healthy approach to feel leaner and lose a bit of weight. You aren’t starving yourself, you aren’t eating anything fake.  You are eating warm, balanced, wholesome meals. . . my kinda "diet"!  
  • Increased mental clarity and focus- By day two I experienced a stronger mental clarity than I had in a long time.  I felt like a fog had been lifted and was able to concentrate and get work done more quickly than otherwise.  Don’t get me wrong, I still get lost in thought and pass up my exit or accidentally put frozen food away in the fridge, but that’s a personality trait that I cannot detox away, unfortunately.
  • Stress Reduction- For one, I do sometimes stress about food.  What are all the ingredients, are there any animal products, I don’t wanna clean the flippin’ mess in the kitchen, etc.  How fabulous was it to eat just one thing for four days and not worry about anything else.  Reminding myself to incorporate the other detoxifying strategies into daily living were also a nice plus.  “Um, kids, don’t bother mommy while I soak in the bath for awhile as an integral part of my detoxification.”  Okay, so I didn’t say that, but it’s funny how we think we need an excuse for any sort of self care.

Eating Only Meals / No Snacking

During the cleanse, I had to stop myself frequently from snacking on things.  Now, they were not necessarily things that I needed to avoid since my home is pretty much a haven for healthy food (almost everything is something you should be eating, not something that you should be avoiding), but I was now cognizant of how often I just snack on stuff.  I was about to grab a handful of nuts, eat up that last piece of mango that my daughter didn’t finish, fill up ANOTHER cup of coffee, without even really a second thought, mindlessly eating when I wasn’t really actually hungry.  So what happens when you don’t give your body a break?  Yeah, yeah, I know, you all have heard that you should eat small frequent meals to keep your metabolism up.  Is that working for you?  Maybe it works for some people, but there are also some dangers: you eat too much, your mindlessly eat, you lose your ability to understand true hunger, you don’t appreciate food!  Dr. Douillard suggests that you might not even be burning fat as efficiently as you could or that you might be conditioning yourself to need frequent meals. 

When you eat every 2-3 hours, your body becomes dependent on a constant supply of food. The body will lose its built-in ability to tolerate missing a meal, and the blood sugar will crash and often crash hard. ~ Dr. John Douillard

So, this may sound contrary to what you typically do and what you hear touted by, well, just about everyone.  Maybe it’s not right for you, but one thing I love about cleanses in general is the ability to try new things out.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  You can always make a decision that eating small frequent meals is right for you OR you may discover that snacking is not working after all.  But, by all means, please make an INFORMED decision.  

When being fed every 2-3 hours the body will not be encouraged to burn any of its stored fat for energy, either. Why should it bother digging out the fat stores for energy when it is being spoon fed all day long? When you eat 3 meals a day and have ample time between meals, the body is forced to burn that stored fat. Once the fat is restored as an active fuel supply you will see better energy, more stable moods, greater mental clarity, better sleep, less cravings and of course, natural and permanent weight management. ~ Dr. John Douillard

For more information, see Dr. Douillard's "Dangers of Frequent Eating"

Eating Seasonally  As much as I looooove juicing, blending, and eating raw for detoxification, energy, and overall health, those things do not feel right for me in the colder months, nor are they recommended according to Ayurveda. Think about the foods normally associated with the colder months. . . soups, stews, root vegetables, etc.  Think also what is locally available to you in the colder months. Now, while we may have once needed to build our fat stores to survive a long, hard winter, we don’t need to do that any longer, but our desire for those heavier, more grounding foods is still innate.  Fortunately, you can still enjoy warm, filling meals without fattening yourself up for a winter of hibernation.  Eating the khichadi (a mixture of dahl, rice, and detoxifying spices) felt easy and effortless.  A juice cleanse right now would have been detoxifying and rewarding, of course, but it wouldn't have seemed natural, nor would it have been effortless.

For more information, see Dr. Douillard's "Winter Grocery List"

The Logistics

Go ahead and download the free ebook so you can see all of the details and here are a few answers to a couple questions or issues that might arise:

  • Drinking Ghee (clarified butter)- A plant-based alternative to the ghee is coconut oil (which I used).  You could also use flax oil.  In general, I am not a proponent of purposely including oil in your diet.  In fact, I try to avoid it as much as possible.  I try to get my healthy fats from whole plant food sources.  (For more information, see President Bill Clinton's Doctor, Caldwell Esselystn's, position on oil).   For the purposes of this cleanse, I did, however use the oil for the oleation process.  Oleation is a key aspect to Ayurvedic cleansing which uses oil to cleanse internally (via ghee or a vegan substitute) and externally (via lymphatic massage with oil). Consuming the oil first thing in the morning - followed by a NO fat diet -is said to put your body into fat metabolism for the rest of the day, releasing fat and the toxins stored in fatty tissue. Be cautious, you may become sick to your stomach as you increase the amount of oil that you consume upon rising daily.  I felt quite sick to my stomach on day three and had to consume less oil on day four.  In hindsight, I felt off on the second day and I should not have progressed to consume more.  If you feel at all uncomfortable after consuming the oil, I suggest not consuming more on the subsequent day. Don’t be a hero.  One goal of this cleanse is to allow your body to rest and work naturally, so you certainly don’t want to be imposing stress.
  • Eating- I chose the most cleansing option, eating only khichadi. I made all of my khichadi from scratch, but an easy alternative is to order packets from Lifespa.com.  I don’t love it - and I like Indian food.  If you aren’t a fan of Indian food, I would suggest going really light on the spices.  The spices do help to aid in the detoxification process, but if you are going to quit because you cannot stand the taste, then by all means, it’s much better to cut back.  Dry roasting enhances the flavor of the spices, so you could also skip that step.  My first batch of khichadi had fennel seeds in it.  Not a fan.  On a subsequent batch I excluded the fennel.  I also tried another batch where I actually used Madras Curry Powder which contains fenugreek (along withe the other suggested spices) that I had not been able to find on its own.  One batch of khichadi was more than enough for a full day for me.
  • Blood sugar balancing meal plan- Dr. Douillard suggests adding whey or lean protein to this diet, if necessary.  Although I am a proponent of a vegan diet, I know that many of you are not be on a plant-based diet.  In these four days, I would suggest that you try to avoid animal products entirely.  Meat is not a cleansing food, as Dr. Douillard attests. 

Broccoli Hugger Detox

For me, a detox (or cleanse) is not necessarily about dieting, although I may lose a couple of pounds.  I use the time to rejuvenate myself (body, mind, and spirit), reset my eating patterns, find new, healthy foods, cut cravings and get back on track!  If all or any of those things sound good to you, why don't you give it a try.  Ideally, you cleanse for 21 days (to really ensure that you change your habits, develop your tastebuds for whole unprocessed foods, etc.), but go ahead and give it a shot even if you only have a few days.

Getting Psyched

I. Consciousness. . .

Surrounding Food- This is two-fold.  When most people think of eating consciously, they think of mindfulness, paying attention to what they eat, not just scarfing down food in front of the tv, without paying attention.  This is important, of course, however there is another aspect: really understanding the impact of the food that you eat. . . to your health (and to the environment around you).  You can always decide to keep eating something, but wouldn’t it be nice to understand if it really is detrimental in some way?  This sort of analysis helped me to give up certain foods and led me to think more about others without just absent-mindedly consuming them.  There are still some things that I eat and drink on occasion that may not be good for me, but informed decisions are always better in my opinion.

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In Life- It’s quite easy to go on autopilot, going through the day without appreciating the moment and passively reacting instead of consciously deciding what we want to accomplish.  This is a good time to set intentions on what you want to accomplish in any given day, interaction, relationship, etc.  

II. To Simplify. . .

Food- Over time, people get out of touch with what simple, real, whole food is.  There are brilliant minds and billions of dollars spent on falsely manipulating food so that it tastes good and we want more of it.  How else could a combination of a ton of chemicals taste good to us?  If you free yourself from the artificial and processed food for awhile you might come to find simple whole plant-based foods make your heart melt.  (FYI, I do think organic tastes better!)

Life- Everyone is so incredibly busy, but is all the busyness necessary or does it keep you from focusing on what’s more important?  Too much stuff going on or too much stuff surrounding you can actually weigh you down more than it lifts you up.  This is a good time to see what things you can do without for awhile to see if you feel better.

With these goals in mind, you can cut out the foods that are harmful and those that you are too reliant on.  Add in the foods that are healing, detoxifying and rejuvenating.  What areas of life need to be simplified and de-cluttered?  Set some goals for how you can be more conscious.  Oh, and set some exercise goals, of course.  Sweat is one way that our bodies detoxify.  Exercise also serves as a pump for your lymphatic system which is driven by movement.  Unlike the heart, it does not have it’s own pump.  The lymphatic system aids in your immune system and also helps to filter toxins from your body.

Here’s an overview of the foods to add in.  This is not an all-inclusive list.  Organic if possible.

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Yeah Baby Yummies

  • Warm lemon water- lots
  • Veggies- particularly leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, garlic, onions, artichokes, cabbage, seaweed, beets, ginger, celery...
  • Fruit- particularly oranges, lemons, limes, apples, pears, berries, avocado (think it’s officially a fruit)...
  • Seeds and Nuts- particularly walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds...
  • Unprocessed Whole grains- particularly brown rice and quinoa (not whole grain bread or whole grain flour- that's technically processed)
  • Tea

And the things to take out or limit.

Not for Now No-No’s

  • Processed Food/ Fast Food
  • Sodas/ Sweetened beverages
  • Artificial Flavorings/ Additives/ Sweeteners
  • Dairy Products*
  • Meat/ Fish*
  • Eggs*
  • Alcohol
  • Gluten
  • Coffee

*If I had to recommend that you only abstain from only one animal-based product, I would suggest dairy, but you decide for yourself.  If you aren’t ready to go meat-free, try to limit it as much as possible with NO sandwich or processed meats and choose organic.  If you are curious about the dangers or the implications of certain animal-based foods, please ask me.  For the purposes of the detox, animal products are acidic and carry with them a host of toxic substances that will hamper your detox efforts rather than help.

Doin' It

So, think about these things and see what seems reasonable to you.  The plan is for you to carry some of these things forward after the detox.  It would be a shame for you to miss certain foods so much that you OD on them once the detox is over.  What works for you?

If you are trying plant-based eating for the first time, you might not want to try to cut out everything.  Maybe now isn’t a great time to cut the gluten or your morning coffee.  Heck, you might still want to enjoy a nice glass of wine with your newly designed dinner menu of whole plant-based foods.  Your plan should be a challenge, but not so challenging that you fail after one day.  

Try focusing more on what you are putting into your diet than what you are taking out.  If you try to eat as much as possible from the “Yeah Baby Yummies” list, you’ll be full and satisfied before you can consume too much or any of the “No-No’s.”  I defy you to try to eat a donut after you’ve just had a big green smoothie. 

Here’s an example of what you might eat on any given day:

Breakfast:

    • Green Smoothie- Greens, berries, seeds
    • Fresh Fruit or Fresh squeezed Juice
    • Steel Cut Oatmeal with fresh or frozen fruit as a natural sweetener (I love dark cherries), cinnamon, nuts or seeds

    Lunch/Dinner:

    • Big Ol' Salad- Greens, oranges, nuts, tons of other colorful veggies. (Shredded beets and carrots are detoxifying, crunchy and delicious!)
    • Vegetable Soup or Stew
    • Steamed Veggies and Brown Rice or Quinoa 

    Basking in Your Glory

    Take it Slow- DO NOT immediately jump back into your old habits (I speak from experience on this one!)  You will feel like crap. . . particularly if your diet pre-detox was vastly different from your diet during the detox.  You have given your body a nice break and it’s not used to the stress of digesting some of those “No-No’s.”  If you are going to go back to some of your old habits, do it slowly.  Choose one thing to add and only in a small quantity.  See how your body reacts before adding in another.  If you feed bad, do a bit of research and soul searching to see if it really should be a part of your life long term. 

    Keep some healthy habits- Did you add in some meditation, more exercise?  If you’ve done it for 21 days, keep the momentum going and stick with it! 

    Decide what you can do without long term- Did you feel better without some of those “No-No’s”?  And why are you going to add them back in? 

    Summarize your experience-  Maybe you’ll want to do another detox in a few months.  Did you tackle your sugar cravings in this detox and next time you want to aim for cutting the caffeine?  A debrief will help you to get some clarity and it will help you to be able to go a bit deeper next time.  It will also help you to celebrate how well you did.  Focus on the positive!  Maybe you didn’t manage to cut dairy out completely, but maybe you had many dairy-free days where you typically had none.  

    Please give yourself a pat on the back for what you accomplished: large or small.  Cheers to you!!

    Healthy Holiday Habits

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    Who’s been a victim of these ridiculous statements that we say to ourselves and others  when it comes time to start celebrating those end of the year festivities.  “It’s just one day to indulge.”  “Well, I’ve ruined my diet already with dinner, so I might as well have a taste of every single one of those desserts.”  “My new year’s resolution is to get fit, so I might as well enjoy myself now.”  I sure have.  Well, how about trying to incorporate one or all of these little sayings this Holiday season to minimize the damage you might inflict upon yourself with food (note: it’s not just the calories, it’s also the junk that you might consume that puts your body in a state of disease/illness growing verses disease/illness fighting).

    Don’t be a Garbage Disposal- As much as I am not a fan of waste, I am less a fan of “disposing” of food in your precious body.  If you overcook or are over-served, please remember that it’s better in the trash than on your thighs or clogging up your arteries. And dare I say that you should refuse to take leftovers home or store them (except the few that might actually be good for you).  If those butter laden taters are going to call your name at midnight, don’t take them home! You had some to celebrate Thanksgiving, not to celebrate for an entire week in November.

    Participate in the Prep- Have you ever heard the term “Don’t trust a skinny chef.”  I beg to differ.  I tend to eat less when I have cooked the food and I’ve found that many folks also experience the same.  The smells and sights of food are a large part of the eating experience.  When you are in the kitchen working with food, some of those senses are satisfied. Contribute a healthy dish or two to the festivities or assist in the kitchen and you just may consume less calories overall.

    Get the Good First- Find the healthiest item available and fill up on that first: salad, fresh veggies and hummus, a vegetable dish that isn’t loaded with cheese or cream.  There’s got to be something that’s lighter, more nutritious, and/or less harmful available that you enjoy.  Make that item your main dish and use the other heavier, meat/dairy/sugar laden foods small side items (or condiments).  Offer to bring something if you suspect something like this might not be available.

    Eat as Minimally Processed as Possible- Casseroles (unless you have diligently prepared them in a healthy manner or you know that the chef has) can be your worst nightmare.  These are usually loaded with cheese, cream, sodium, and lots of other fun hidden ingredients. The rule of thumb is that there’s more likely to be something harmful hidden when more ingredients are used.  

    Don’t assume- We tend to assume certain things about the foods we eat.  All desserts are bad for us, all veggie dishes are good, for example.  Spend a moment to survey the food and make an educated decision.  You might be better off to enjoy some homemade apple pie over a second helping of that cheesy broccoli casserole, for example.

    Cheers!