By Gina Cousineau
Most car owners are diligent about keeping up with regular automotive maintenance to protect the life of their vehicles. Yet, we humans aren’t so good about our own upkeep, and we are really good at putting ourselves on the back burner with the promise of getting to our self-care when we have time.
Our time is now. And my advice to you is perhaps different than you might expect during this month of December, when every minute is accounted for.
I sit in the same place as you, with the to-do list growing and time running out, but that doesn’t mean that our needs don’t matter. I would like to give you a few thoughts on areas in your life you might consider moving to the top of the list this holiday season.
“Eat, Papa, Eat”
This line from the movie Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer is Mrs. Claus’ reminder to Santa to eat.
I, too, want to remind you about the importance of eating, not only for the much-needed nutrition and energy you need to knock the items off your list, but for the ability to prevent getting “hangry,” which can lead to loss of self-control, irritability, headaches, the inability of making “healthy” choices, and overeating/binging.
My advice to stave off getting “hangry” is multifold: we all need multiple eating encounters throughout our day. Under all circumstances, don’t skip a meal/snack to save calories for the special event that day.
- Do eat wholesome meals that partner whole grains/starches, lean protein, veggies and/or fruit, and healthy fats.
- Do eat every three to four hours to prevent getting hangry and then grabbing the “bag o’ whatever” to fill the gap.
- Do plan on an easy breakfast of Greek yogurt and fruit, topped with muesli or other low sugar cereal and your favorite nut. Or toast whole grain bread, topping with nut butter and sliced fruit or low-sugar fruit spread, and partner with a latte using milk or soy milk to provide a nice dose of protein to fill you up.
- Do plan on eating lunch, and with so many healthy fast-food options, be sure to choose a “bowl” type meal in which you can choose a whole grain, lean protein, veggies, and get your calorie-laden toppings (dressing, nuts, cheese, avocado, etc.) on the side to control portions. This is where the “healthy salad” option can go sideways and become a calorie bomb.
- Do plan on an afternoon snack. This is the time of day that most of us become ravenous, especially when we have skimped on breakfast and lunch. Making sure all food encounters include some fiber, lean protein and a healthy fat option ensures satiety within the meal or snack, and allows you to be satisfied between meals. Whole grain crackers and cheese, veggies and hummus, sliced apples with nut butter, are all perfect pairings. I highly suggest that you keep pre-portioned baggies with nuts and dried fruit in your vehicle that can be easily coupled with a milk or soy latte from your favorite coffee spot.
- Do fill in the gaps for holiday parties where you know the veggies will be lacking. Purchase cut-up veggies that you enjoy raw, or slice up your own, and throw in baggies and eat on the way to your event. Start your evening with sparkling water, and eat from a plate, so you have some awareness of how much you are consuming.
And, most importantly, find joy in every move you make. Try to get a little bout of exercise most days. Happy Holidays from Mama G.
Gina Cousineau is a local nutrition and fitness expert who specializes in weight loss and prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and more. Mama G is a trained chef with her master’s degree in integrative and function nutrition. Register for her “Dear Santa” Recipe Giveaway on her website at mamagslifestyle.com.