Updated: Apr 21
Like many Americans, I am always in need of recovery after the holiday season (and celebration after celebration involving food). So, I start out the year determined for a reset. But then, within only a week or two, I inevitably find myself struggling to find my stride with nutrition because I am still surrounded by junk food every single day.
Looking back to the first two weeks of last January, my boss brought chocolates and left them right on my desk since I sit at the front counter. Our landlord brought us sub sandwiches, chips, and cookies to thank us for being great tenants. There were two birthday parties, one wedding, and two Pizza Party Mondays in the first two weeks. Determined to make this my healthiest year yet, I brainstormed with my Facebook Health Accountability Group on strategies for sticking to a nutritious eating plan, surrounded by junk food or not. Here is what we came up with:
1. Perform a kitchen detox to get rid of food items that aren’t serving you on your quest for health.
Beware of foods like protein bars and juice that guise themselves as health foods.
Consider whether you might benefit from going grain free, or at least gluten free. New research indicates gluten can affect the blood / brain barrier and contribute to depression, even in people who aren’t considered gluten intolerant, so I personally try to stay away from it.
When reading labels, remember sugar goes by many names: organic cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, cane syrup, molasses, maltodextrin, and xanthan gum.
Spices and seasonings – Again, watch for sugars.
Check your beef/chicken soup stock for gluten. I was surprised to find gluten hiding in mine after I had tried to go gluten-free!
2. Stock up on lean meats (organic, grass fed if possible), fruits and vegetables (organic if possible). For seasonings, make sure you have pepper, salt, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive on hand.
3. I have been talking about my food prep Sundays for years. Whatever day of the week you choose, take some time to turn your healthy meats, fruits and vegetables into ready-to-eat salads, soups, and casseroles; whatever you like. Because if you don’t have healthy food prepared when hunger strikes, I guarantee you will be grabbing for the pre-packaged convenience foods that you will later regret eating.
1. Find ways to spend time with friends that don’t involve food. Go for a walk, or attend a class at our aerial studio! Even if you have never been to a class, we have classes for total beginners and would love to have you!
2. Have a plan for attending events that might have unhealthy food out. For example, for birthday parties at restaurants, consider dropping a gift before or after dinner time. I realize this means skipping the heart of the party, but with an excuse to party nearly every other day, I feel this is a sacrifice I need to make for my health. This is no different than recovering alcoholics needing to avoid spending time in a bar. It’s crucial for success.
3. Speaking of alcohol, limiting it may be the single most important move for those pursuing health. After going through a (sadly) 15 year phase where I would drink until black out regularly and had a seemingly never-ending hang-over, I gave up alcohol cold turkey about ten years ago. I went from late-night-pig out sessions to attempt to absorb my drunkenness, to being able to wake up early, feeling amazing, for a weekend workout.
Strategies for Curbing Mindless Eating
1. When you feel hungry, try drinking a cup of tea or sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime before you eat to make sure it’s not thirst you are feeling.
2. When you head out for the day, always take your next meal with you. For example, I pack nuts & apples when I go to the ski area so I have snacks for the drive home. Protein shakes are another easy go-to.
3. Brush your teeth in the early evening to signify the closing of your daily eating window, and get to bed at a decent hours instead of going for that late night snack to fuel you past a proper bedtime.
It has taken me a lot of trial and error to get to where I am today, and I plan to keep doing the work of committing (and, yes, re-committing) to my health every single day. I will not beat myself up for the slip-ups I have had in the past, but I will employ these strategies to help mitigate slips in the future. Thank you to Levitation Nation’s Facebook Accountability Group for these awesome ideas. If you are interested in joining in our accountability group, just ask! It’s totally free and anyone and everyone is welcome to join in, because we are stronger when we unite in our journey for health. XOXO, Mindy
Mindy is the founder of Kalispell's Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catch phrase "fitness is fun" is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. Mindy is also a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health and wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and life coach. For more about Mindy, please visit: https://www.levitationnation.org/mindy