Guest Post by Katie Kapro
The start of the New Year harkens the great North American tradition of healthy eating resolutions. We’ve indulged in our culture’s richest foods throughout the holidays, and our bodies are yearning for something a little more nutritious.
It’s not easy to make a dietary changes though. Our bodies and minds need a bit of retraining. Here are some creative ways to help you stick to your new year’s resolutions.
If your December traditions are anything like mine, sugar is king. Cookies, homemade chocolates, and mulled wine. All super healthy. Now that the season of sweets is over, our bodies still feel those insatiable sugar cravings. For me, now that there aren’t mounds of cookies on my counter, this translates into intense carb cravings.
Carbohydrates are not intrinsically bad. Complex carbs have important elements like starch and fiber, while simple carbs are purely sugar. The issue with simple carbs is that our bodies become accustomed to functioning off that quick hit of sugar, and they become less adept at processing more complex foods for energy. Anyone who has ever experienced the “carb flu” can attest.
A healthy new year usually entails retraining the body to get its energy from replacing high-sugar foods like bread and pasta with alternatives that are just as delicious and are more in tune with your body’s energy needs.
Spaghetti with meatballs can be replaced with a yummy Spaghetti Squash Primavera, for example.
And pizza, my personal weakness, can be replaced with a healthier Cauliflower Crust Pizza.
Of course, just removing the carbohydrates doesn’t make something completely healthy, but it sure helps.
People with gastrointestinal issues, aka reflux disease, might be sighing in disappointment right now. Many carb-substituted recipes, especially the Italian ones, have tomato sauce, which is notoriously hard on our stomachs. But don’t be sad heartburn sufferers! There’s a solution for just about every dietary need. Check out these GERD-friendly tomato sauce recipes. Simply adding baking soda to neutralize the acid and using low fat meat will keep reflux to a minimum.
Substitute Your Nostalgia
Now, I love butter. And cream. And cheese is a perfect match for just about anything sweet or salty. But dairy is not the healthiest of the food groups; it’s a dangerous one to overindulge in.
I often wonder if the reason I love the taste of butter so much is because my mother used it heavily in my favorite childhood foods. I taste butter and I feel happy. Once I was able to see that feeling for what it was, I found it easier to retrain my mind and seek out those reward-feelings in healthier foods.
Luckily it’s not hard to retrain the mind to get that comforting feeling from a variety of herbs and spices instead of cholesterol-heavy dairy. It’s a matter of psychology.
Spices, for example, can awaken the same comforting nostalgia as high cholesterol foods. For me the calming smell of lavender is an especially powerful one, used as herbes de provence in savory treats and as a colorful and flavorful addition to many desserts. The Romans were the first to use lavender on a large scale. They knew what was up.
Keep Your Resolutions with Creativity
One thing I’ve learned about New Year’s resolutions, if there’s not some aspect of creativity involved, I usually get bored of it pretty fast. Anyone else? Here are some fun crafts that put to use all of those kitchen supplies you’re not going to need during your commitment to healthy eating …
Done with pie for a while? Use your leftover pie tins to make these pretty punched tin butterflies.
Cutting down on dairy? Farewell cheese grater, hello jewelry holder.
Need an excuse to pour those cans of soda down the drain? Chainmail. Period.
Adding a little fun to a resolution can make a world of difference. Sure, eating healthy is about retraining our bodies and minds, but training doesn’t have to be a painful experience.
What measures are you taking to eat healthier this new year?