Do healthy eating habits make you feel like you’re ‘missing out’?

Growing up, I didn’t have a concept of healthy eating habits beyond the obligatory vegetable on my dinner plate. Like any child, I wished broccoli would taste like chocolate brownies. Then as I got older, I wished brownies were just 45 calories and contained the cancer-fighting properties of the cruciferous broccoli. 

Even up to a few years ago, healthy eating had a whiff of deprivation for me. But that changed when I started to look at all the foods I “get” to eat. Have you ever had those little orange tomatoes fresh from the farmers market? If I’d had those as a kid I may never have “needed” so much chocolate.

Of course you can think about all the energy you’ll have, and how great that pair of jeans will fit if you can just stick with your healthy eating habits. Creating a clear picture of how fit and strong you’re becoming, imagining yourself looking and feeling fantastic, is great motivation. 

But there’s that part of our brain that likes instant satisfaction, and thinking about those results can feel too vague and certainly not “instant.” So thinking about all of the delicious healthy foods we get to eat provides that spark of immediate enjoyment.

And I learned not to expect a sweet, juicy strawberry to give me the same feel-good dopamine spike as mint chocolate chip ice cream. It’s a different level of satisfaction. Like the difference between marriage and that initial dating phase.

Staying on track with healthy eating habits requires balancing brain chatter and temptation with your desire for losing weight, and this is one strategy that really helps me and my clients. When you not only focus on the healthy foods that you really like, but make sure to have them readily available and incorporate them regularly into your daily fare, you will feel more satisfied. And the more satisfied you feel, the less you feel deprived.

In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt like I was missing out.

Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash

Want to gain weight this holiday season?

I didn’t think so. But what to do with the barrage of holiday favorites incessantly coming at you?

Do you white-knuckle your way through parties, office potlucks and family dinners, feigning a penchant for raw broccoli? Or do you give in and overdo it because “the holidays only come once a year?”

Neither choice gets you what you want. One leaves you deprived and primed to overeat. The other leaves you hungover with the regret of poor choices. Both set you back on any progress you’ve made.

There is a third way, which is to eat mindfully, choose your favorites and identify healthy options. I know, not easy when you see a plate of magic bars in the break room at 3pm. And how do you bring something healthy to a potluck that doesn’t get shoved to the side, untouched until you take it home?

I’ve curated a list of ten holiday recipes to make at home or take to parties, that are tasty and satisfying, without sabotaging your healthy habits:

1. I love this creative take on a veggie plate. Serve at home or take to a party. Beautiful!
2. A tasty gingersnap cookie recipe for vegans (or those of us who play vegan from time to time).
3. This kale stuffed butternut squash could be a side or main dish.
4. Now here’s an extravagant mashed cauliflower recipe (with room to play on how much fat you want to add).
5. When you’re hungry and it’s not mealtime, having snacks on hand can keep you from making poor food choices. These granola bars are a tasty option that will satiate and not deprive.

Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash

6. Brunch can be filled with pastries and pork (not saying I don’t eat those). Try adding this winter citrus salad.
7. Love this roasted red pepper dish, a twist on the typical salad/veggie option. Like the veggie tray (#1), a beautiful holiday presentation.
8. I’ll admit it’s not my thing, but eggnog is a holiday favorite for many. Try this slimmed down version and see what you think.
9. I’ve made a couple energy ball recipes with dates and really like them (similar to RX bars that you find at grocery stores). But these are a step above! I WILL definitely be making peppermint fudge no bake energy bites.
10. Accommodating everyone’s food restrictions and preferences is near impossible. But you can get close with this healthy sweet potato casserole. It’s a vegan, gluten-free alternative to a perennial holiday favorite. (You can have brown sugar and marshmallows on the side for those with a stronger sweet tooth.)

Try several of these or search out your favorites. The key is focusing on food options that are healthy AND that you enjoy. If you do that about ninety percent of the time, I suspect you’ll be pretty happy with the results.

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