Last evening at my final Christmas party of the season the topic of conversation among us five women naturally turned to New Year’s Resolutions. Of course, food and health are always at the top of the list. Someone wants to lose weight. Someone wants to exercise more. Everyone wants to incorporate more healthy habits into their lifestyles. The timing of the conversation was good for me as I had been reading two magazines that afternoon about holistic health as I looked forward to today’s seasonal acupuncture treatment.
For the first time in years, my health took a strong winter downturn last week when the doctor told me I had the flu. Since I began getting seasonal acupuncture treatments I felt that had helped me ward it off. This year for some reason that I’ll have to ask the acupuncturist about, he didn’t want to do the winter treatment as early as usual. Thus, I got the flu. At least that’s how it stacks up in my mind whether the lack of a treatment can be blamed or not.
Not having an appetite around the holidays helped me adjust my own perspective on eating. I returned to three lessons I learned years ago that I hope I will more strongly ingrain into my eating habits in the new year.
First, eat only when hungry. For me that generally means eating small portions at meals and not taking seconds. Although I often taste something so delicious that I immediately want another helping, I find that if I allow my food to settle long enough for my stomach to send my brain the signal that I’m full (approximately 20 minutes) then I will no longer want that second helping. So I’m going into the new year trying to make that an eating habit that I will not lose at the first temptation.
Second, the holiday season also reminded me of the kinds of foods my body most craves—whole foods that are not weighed down with heavy sauces, cheeses, dressings, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cheesy casserole now and then. There are sauces and dressings that truly enhance the taste of foods that I also enjoy. But at least in my family, the holidays seems to be a time for casseroles in which the vegetables play a secondary role to the cream of something soup, crackers and cheese. Now that the potlucks are nearly over, I’ll be returning to those naked vegetable dishes that let their natural colors and flavors set the tone. I can taste those roasted vegetables already!
Third, the holidays wouldn’t be such a special food time without the loads of candies and cookies that everyone associates with the season. Each family has a specialty, something dear that grandma always made or that Mom has perfected through the years. We still have three tins of those delights on our dining room table, along with a pie made from real pumpkin in the refrigerator. I’ve been generally avoiding most of it (notice I only said most, not all!) because as I’ve been recovering my health I’m reminded of how refined sugar can deplete the immune system. I would rather be healthy for the New Year instead of having my sweet tooth pacified.
As I look to 2011, my food challenges are to eat only when hungry, cherish naked vegetables and keep sweets in their place, which isn’t in my desk drawer. What are your food challenges for 2011?