Rules for 2019
Two more nights left in the UK and I’m writing this with a large glass of wine and some chips by my side.
There’s also been a box of Millionaire’s Shortbread this afternoon (yup, the whole box.)
It was gluten-free, dairy-free, organic — that practically makes it a vegetable, yes? Well maybe not, as with most allergy-free products, it was packed full of sugar and some questionable fats.
I don’t feel bad about any of it, Christmas is always a little slippy for me when it comes to nutrition, but I’m looking forward to getting back on track.
My motivator? Not really a dress to get into or a big event, but I feel better, run better, sleep better and think better when I eat well. And I genuinely love it!
I just need all the good choices at my fingertips if I’m going to make it happen.
If it’s too hard, I might not do it. Not sure if that makes me lazy or normal?
The thing is, it’s tricky here. There’s lots of amazing healthy food in my mum’s house (I am telling you that with a gun to my head hahaha!) but there is also what I call “the layer of crap”.
So many of us fall into this category; we eat healthy meals but scatter a big dose of chocolate and some glasses of wine on top.
Maybe for you it’s muffins or chips, gin ‘n’ tonic or ice-cream, sausages or bacon or dessert every night, maybe it’s all of it.
The problem is that it kind of adds up, even if you DO eat your vegetables. Sound familiar? Hmmmm, I thought so.
Admittedly, after Christmas, layer-of-crap syndrome isn’t quite so bad.
There’s probably a little less chocolate, alcohol, cake, cassava pie and ice cream in your house than there was last week.
We still live in a crazy food environment where we have fast-releasing, junkie carbs, available to us all the time.
That’s a huge problem! Remember what I’ve told you a thousand times before: our evolutionary biology is maladapted to our current situation. We’re designed to crave, overeat and store carbs as if we were cavemen.
When we ricocheted between food scarcity and food abundance, our mechanisms designed to crave, overeat and store were a good thing.
The vast majority of us don’t experience food scarcity any more. Instead, we continue to crave, overeat and store perpetually. Yikes.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-carbs by any stretch. They provide you valuable energy and can deliver amazing antioxidants too (root veg and berries like butternut squash, blueberries, kiwi and carrots are all carbs!) However, you need to keep your portions in check.
I grew up having fruit after lunch and dinner because it was “healthy” — but that was a fruit carb on top of a savoury carb (eg rice, pasta, potatoes) which equals double carbs.
As a generally active adult, it would be better to have lean protein and veggies at meal time, followed by fruit. You probably don’t need both!
Then, in addition, if you’re having carbs with each meal, fruit as dessert and a layer of crap on top ... you really are going too far.
Aside from some miseducation about what counts as a carb (for example, lots of people don’t realise that carrots and corn are carbs), most of us know that we shouldn’t be eating the sugary stuff too.
Yet somehow, after promising ourselves to “be good”, we end up face first in a jar of chocolate chips at 11pm.
So, the question is, what are we going to do about it?
I actually think it’s pretty simple. The most effective “layer of crap” strategy I know is to just not have it in the house.
That’s my No 1 rule. I can be great all day and then cave at the last minute. I definitely have some stress-eating triggers.
At 11pm, if the chocolate chips aren’t there, you can’t eat them. And you’re unlikely to drive to the gas station to get them (or the equivalent) at that time of night.
If you do, call me immediately because we need to put some extra steps in place, especially if you’re prepared to go in your pyjamas.
So, this weekend, while you have a fresh burst of New Year spirit in you, clean out the cupboards and get rid of the crap.
Toss it, give it away, whatever it takes, just get it out of the house. I know lots of you will have a “kids’ cupboard”, but we need to drop that excuse.
They shouldn’t really be eating it, either. If you want to bake something, bake just enough, rather than enough to have around for days.
If you want ice cream on a Friday night, buy one tub and share it; try not to keep a full stock in the freezer.
Keep your home environment “clean” and then it doesn’t matter so much what happens when you eat out!
Given how much time you spend at home, it’s critical for your success. And if you’re at work a lot too, you’re going to need healthy snacks on hand to fight off that 3pm chocolate craving — but more of that next week!
• The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the managing director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda or instagram at @naturalbda