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How to Bounce Back After The Holidays: Your New Year's Diet Guide

While the holidays are really about being with friends and family and the ones you love, it is easy to let food take center stage.  We have all been there.  From indulging in one too many cookies to a couple extra drinks and party food galore, it makes sense that come January 1 many people look to starting a New Year’s Diet.

But, hold on, not so fast.  Instead of following a restrictive diet (that’s no fun, anyway!), follow these 10 simple health tips to help you get back on track after the holidays:

1) Choose What's Personalized For You

What works for you to help you reach better health is likely very different than what works for your friend, the celebrity you follow on Instagram, or your trainer.  It makes sense to find support and encouragement from your social network, but if you are looking to make some serious health and nutrition changes, you need an educated and well-trained professional, like a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, to help you with a personalized plan.  After all, though you love them, you probably wouldn’t trust your friend with diagnosing your dad with macular degeneration…you’d go to the eye doctor.

2) Choosing Healthier Doesn't Mean Being "All In, All Out"

I find that with my patients, those who go on diets have an “all in” mentality, which means that when one “mistake” is made, they are then “all out.”  Instead of taking a dieting approach, choose healthier options when you can and enjoy all food, always.  Aim for progress, not perfection, trusting yourself and trusting in your food choices as much as you can.

3) Stress Less and Sleep More

If you are stressed or are lacking sleep, you may find yourself reaching for high calorie foods as a way to give you energy.  However, these foods may contain substances that can promote inflammation, make you feel “puffy,” and lead you to feel hungry again soon after eating.  Simply making sure you get enough sleep (reach for 7-9 hours each night) and reducing stress can go a long way in reaching better health in 2017. 

4) Focus on "YES" Foods

Focus on the foods you should be saying “yes” to, rather than concentrating on the ones you should be saying “no” to.  Focusing on the positive, like enjoying healthy, delicious plant-based food (vegetables, fruit, nuts and nut butters, beans and lentils, etc.) rather than vowing to cut desserts, snacks, or a certain food group, may make you feel less restricted — and less likely to overeat later. 

Foxy has some great recipes for you this winter, like this Kale, Apple, and Ricotta Flatbread which is made with a cauliflower crust and this Warm BroccoLeaf Salad with Pears,Figs, and Hazelnuts. It’s so easy to say “YES” to those delicious recipes…which just so happen to be good-for-you, too!

5) Set Small Goals for Big Results

The goal or resolution to “eat healthy” is often times too broad to be an achievable, let-me-cross-this-off-my-to-do-list goal.  Set small goals like “drink a glass of water with lemon as soon as I wake up,” “add cinnamon and almonds to my morning oatmeal instead of brown sugar,” “skip the sugar and sprinkle cinnamon into my tea,” and “wrap my sandwich in a collard green instead of a white flour tortilla.”  Why?  These specific goals give you small, actionable, and easy check offs.

6) Add Proteins and Healthy Fats

If you are still enjoying leftover holiday sweets, enjoy them in respectful portions and realize that sugar-rich meals and snacks will send your blood sugar skyrocketing, with a quick drop following that can leave you hungry or tired.  So, aim to pair that piece of chocolate with some almond butter, or eat a handful of nuts alongside your sugar cookie.  Enjoying protein and fats alongside a sweet can help keep blood sugars more stable.

7) Aim to Eat More Vegetables in Your Meals and Snacks

Challenge yourself to eat more vegetables each time you eat.  Vegetables like asparagus, celery, leeks, and broccoli contain healthy fiber, which helps clean up your digestive tract, plus numerous phytonutrients that enable healthy (and real!) detoxification.

8) Realize Health Stretches Beyond Food

Realize that a healthy life stretches far beyond food – it depends upon factors including satisfaction (does the food you eat make you feel good?), sleep (are you getting enough?), activity (are you moving more?), and social fulfillment (are you laughing and spending time with those you love?).  Pause and assess how you are feeling in each area of wellness, and set small goals in the areas where you may be able to earn easy health gains.

Do you feel like you need more help as you enter 2017?  Ask me on Twitter and Instagram @ToriSchmittRDN.  I’m happy to answer your questions so you can have a fresh – and foxy – 2017!

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