Holidays are wonderful. They are a great time to recharge, to spend some time deepening your relationships with your loved ones. It’s a lovely time to step back from routine and become more comfortable with a change in pace. Holidays can also be challenging: sometimes it can be difficult to drop the pace and relax; there are difficult family dynamics to navigate and of course, food! For those who eat a healthy low carb, whole food diet and those who struggle with weight and health, there are holiday ‘food memories’ and associations and seasonal foods.
Bottom line, you may have overindulged in some foods that are allowed, or you may completely fall off the wagon and eaten some ‘No foods’ or even ‘non-foods’! Gasp!
If you have a few extra kilos to lose, you may be feeling it difficult to transition and start getting back to a healthier eating routine or to exercise.
I generally don’t eat any ‘no’ foods. I try to eat low carbohydrate, whole food, organic or pasture raised if possible. I don’t crave non-foods like potato crisps or processed stuff. I find it difficult to mess up my gut microbiome and overall health and put a lot of effort into keeping it in great shape. What I did find difficult during our summer holidays, is staying away from summer fruit! Generally we eat very little fruit in our home. However in the blistering hot summer, we all enjoy some watermelon. There are many happy childhood memories of ice cold watermelon on a hot summers day!
While some fruit may still be allowed on a low carb diet if you have no medical problems and are at ideal weight, for me, eating off plan ruins my appetite … even if its just fruit. What’s worse, the more I see that giant hunk of watermelon in the fridge, the more difficult it becomes to stop eating.
If I plan to do an extended fast and then open up the fridge and find some watermelon and have even one teensy piece, I will just start looking for more OR start nibbling…. nuts, raw coconut. For me, I work best when I’m fasting or when I stick with a good meal that has enough protein and fat OR when I plan to eat something off plan- like fruit. Generally for me, that’s best before 2pm and NOT when I’m hungry. So here are my tips to start the year fresh, healthy and smart!
- Start with fresh eyes. Start the morning and end last thing at night looking through eyes of gratitude. When you pause and start the day this way after having ended it that way too, things start to look a whole lot better!
- Know yourself! If you are someone who has a chronic medical diagnosis like diabetes or prediabetes, its best to stay on plan. There are a multitude on delicious whole foods and low carb recipes available so you don’t feel deprived. It really is NOT worth it to become sicker for something that you stop tasting once it’s passed your tongue. Eat smarter!
- Follow someone you admire on social media to get inspired. For me, among others, it’s Ben Greenfield, David Goggins, Mel Robbins, Jo Dispenza, Ken and Neisha Berry, Rob Cywers, and of course, Prof Tim Noakes!
- Get busy and fast for as long as you can. Drink enough water with salt or have bone broth on hand! If you are fasting for longer than 48-72 hours, do so with the guidance and help of a trained expert.
- Stop buying things you shouldn’t eat! It’s as easy as that!
- Say NO! It’s liberating! Listen to your heart and answer from your heart. Sometimes people try to be ‘helpful’ and encouraging by saying things like ‘Don’t deprive yourself’ ‘It’s just one bite’. Say No! And you don’t have to explain why.
- Batch cook on a Sunday or whenever you cook in the week. If a meals already prepped, there’s less room to veer off plan.
- Get a buddy and join a fun new class at the gym. Do something different. If you usually do an evening class, try a morning class. Or grab a friend and go for a run, or just drop now and give me ten push-ups! (I just did!) Strength is healthy and sexy!
- Try to always have a tried and trusted meal for your first meal. My go to…EGGS! Fried, scrambled, deviled, sweet (made like a custard but with browned butter, cinnamon and teensy amount of stevia. I feel best after eating a carnivore type brekkie. Eggs, or meat and eggs. If I eat nuts or low carb pancakes or bread, I find myself less satisfied and looking for food earlier in the day.
- Set some goals. My goals this year is to start with mindful meditation and end with mindful meditation every day! My WHY is because living a mindful life helps me see more clearly and be more of myself. My other personal goals are to do more regular fasts, pick up heavier weights, do more things that scare me, have more Wim Hoff type showers, listen more with my heart, sleep on time, spend more quality time with the ones I love, ‘do’ less and ‘be’ more , read more books that I love and to be more fearless about what I love and believe in. It helps me to have some form of reminder of these goals; either in the form of having them written down or symbols of them or having piles of books of my favourite authors around the home to remind me. Having goals helps you to get out of the rut because life takes on a greater meaning and tine is more valuable.
- Just do it! Exercise, real foods, early night, that task you’ve been putting off, that conversation you’ve been putting off. Feeling stuck helps you stay stuck. Life isn’t meant to be easy or smooth sailing. Hard work takes grit. You have it in you to do better. Stop looking in the rear view mirror. In life, we only have the now, the present moment. Let’s do the best we can in this moment and the next and the next and the next!
This list is by no means exhaustive. These are merely a few thoughts I’ve wanted to share. You know yourself best. Just do the best for you!
Much love and wishing you the best for 2020 and beyond!
About the author:
Dr Hassina Kajee is co-founder and Medical Director of The Noakes Foundation ‘Eat Better South Africa’ program and was instrumental in overseeing and facilitating the Foundation’s first ever Eat Better South Africa! intervention programme conducted in the Ocean View community. She has since advised on a number of the Foundations subsequent interventions. Her enthusiasm and passion about the LCHF eating science emanates through her. She believes that prevention starts with educating and empowering her patients and the general public with knowledge of the tenets of optimal health including optimal nutrition backed by robust science.
Dr Kajee turned her clinical practice towards chronic disease prevention after years of practicing ‘palliative’ chronic medicine at the tertiary level where she headed up the High Care Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital. She currently practices privately; in addition she advises as Medical Director of Eat Better South Africa, The Nutrition Network and as a director on the Board of The Noakes Foundation. As a wife and mother of 2 young children, she is passionate about preventative health care and believes in supporting prevention as early as possible- at the prenatal level.