Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolve to eat well in 2010

Welcome to 2010....and to the first day of the rest of your foodie life! As many of us wake up from a night of "turn of the decade" revelry and head straight for the greasy spoon cure...resolutions that seemed so on point last night are probably being postponed for Monday. So while you nurse your hangover, why not take advantage of this opportunity and mentally prepare to set some real revolution in place.

A quick and very unscientific Google scan points to a harrowing survey statistic - that only 8% of people keep their New Year's resolutions....and about half fail by January. If any of you are dedicated gym goers, you probably loathe the January gym crush but keep your self serene knowing that the rif raff will disappear by February 1. Why is that? Perhaps we need to look at what is motivating our resolve for the answer. Is it 10 pounds and a serious energy deficit brought on by holiday excesses? Is it a desire to look like the airbrushed masses blankly staring back at us from our magazines in time for summmer nuptuals? Or what if resolutions come from a more serious dissatisfaction from how we are actually living our lives?

The biggest obstacle I see with clients is the "extreme makeover" phenomenon. People who vow to go from take out and Seinfeld to vegan raw and yogic literally overnight. This all or nothing approach is almost always doomed to fail because it suffers from a fundamental disconnect of what your needs really are and what benefits your current lifestyle brings. This concept might take a bit of explanation. For example, if you work a typically harried 55 hour work week, when you get home your primary objective is probably to clear your head and nurture your psyche back from the enormous stresses of the day. You turn on the TV and order a pizza so you no longer have to make any decisions and can conserve that last thread of energy left in your body. You lay down, perhaps without knowing it, because this physically cues your body to relax. And the high fat, high salt, high calorie food is also a common response to stress...and soothing hormones are released as a response to the indulgence. As a result of these choices long term, you may not be that fit or too practiced in the kitchen. Then January 1st rolls around and you commit to yoga 5 times a week...rushing from the office to make sure you get a spot in the class, and then finding yourself at home 2 hours later than normal only to try and figure out how to get some plant based protein and vegetables morphed into a nourishing meal before you have to get to bed.....just thinking about it is already stressing me out. So a few weeks is back to Seinfeld and pizza because your soul just can't take it. 

I personally am a big fan of the quiet revolution. The challenge I find is convincing people that taking small steps will actually result in the kind of monumental change they are looking for without the headaches. But it is far easier to work on goals in an achievable stepwise fashion. Want to be a vegan? Perhaps your first goal should be buying Becoming Vegan, a great book by two Canadian dietitians that will teach you everything you need to know. And since that is an easy one, you could add that you will experiment with cooking tofu or tempeh each Sunday. This way you will have time to look up a recipe and then have fun experimenting. Once you have that one down, you could make the switch from cow's milk to soy milk in your morning latte. By working each new change into your lifestyle permanently, by the end of the year you might actually get to vegan. And you won't be struggling...each new change will become habit.

I am going to leave you with 10 mini resolutions to get you inspired. Perhaps try adding one a week....and within 10 weeks you are going to have gotten a lot farther that most of the resolution crazed masses.

1. Add 1/2 cup of blueberries to your breakfast every morning for an antioxidant boost.
2. Trim up your milk: if you drink 2%, move to 1%; if you drink 1%, switch to skim
3. Replace your afternoon snack with chopped celery, baby carrots and a bit of hummus to sneak more veggies into your day.
4. Replace your second cup of coffee with green tea for less caffeine and cancer busting phytochemicals.
5. Swap veggie ground round for ground beef once a week to save saturated fat and calories...not to mention the eco effects of eating veggie.
6. Snack on yogurt with 1/3 cup of Bran Buds or Smart Bran to boost fibre intake in a big way.
7. Keep prewashed bags of spinach in the fridge and add it to everything: saute in omelets, pasta sauces and stews; stuff sandwiches and wraps or toss with dressing for a super simple side salad to an otherwise veggie-free meal.
8. Keep good quality pureed veggie soups at the office so you always have a healthy lunch or snack option.
9. Swap at least one energy drink or flavoured "water"  a day for actual water for a natural energy boost.
10. Try one new recipe per week; buy a beautiful new cookbook or troll great, free recipe websites like eating well or epicurious.

PS. My own resolutions this year pertain largely to my committment to this blog - I am going for a post a week. If you have any topics you would like to see covered...just let me know!

Here's to personal revolution,

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