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Here are my tips for navigating through this special time of year and savor the love that comes from taking care of yourself psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and physically:
1. Remember you can still get all the flavor and all of the experience with an entirely plant-based meal. Focusing on the sides is everything.
2. Persist with fitness. It is all too easy to let your routine slip to the sidelines with traveling, festivities, and busier schedules that are typical this time of year. But that is why it is even more important to stay the course and squeeze it in.
3. Focus on fruits or veggies. Since fruits and veggies both offer the fewest calories per gram than any other foods and are high in satiating fiber, these are the ideal items to preferentiate at every meal. Studies have found that starting your meal with a piece of fruit, salad, or soup decreases overall caloric intake at a meal.
4. Prioritize the six daily 3’s:
- 3 servings of leafy green vegetables (1 serving equals 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked and include options such as asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, dandelion greens, green beans, kale, any type of lettuce, sea vegetables, etc.);
- 3 servings of legumes (1 serving equals 1/2 cup of any bean, lentil, pea, or soy foods);
- 3 servings of fruits (1 serving equals 1 medium piece or 1 cup);
- 3 servings nuts and seeds (1 servings equals 1/2 ounce or 30 grams);
- 3 servings other colored vegetables (1 serving equals 1/2 cup); and
- 3 servings exercise (1 serving equals 20 minutes of activity).
5. Predict, plan, and prepare. Know where your next meal will be and make arrangements to have healthy options wherever that may be. Dining out | Traveling | If you’re visiting friends or family, ask to bring a wholesome dish for yourself and to share.
6. Opt out instead of pushing portion control. Sometimes just saying “no” is so much easier. Otherwise, that first bite of hyperpalatable food stimulates the hormonal cascade that kicks in and seduces you into “just one more bite”…and “one last one”…and on and on down that rabbit hole.
7. Try skipping meals. Intermittent fasting is a very powerful tool you can use to manage your weight and enhance your health. It is something to play with and integrate into your life and can be very useful during the holidays. How much more delicious will a holiday meal taste if you are truly hungry?
8. Discover and experiment with healthier indulgences. Swap date paste or date syrup for sugar in recipes, try aquafaba instead of egg whites in meringue-like dishes or other egg substitutes in any type of recipe and use fruit and vegetable purées instead of oil.
Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T., The Plant-Based Dietitian, is a passionate advocate of the miracles associated with following a whole food, plant-based diet. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Vegiterranean Diet, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, and the nutrition columnist for VegNews Magazine. Julieanna maintains a private practice in Los Angeles and lectures internationally. As co-producer and star of the “infotainment” documentary, To Your Health, Julieanna interviewed a host of the plant-based world’s most respected doctors and researchers to bring this important information to a broad audience. As Executive Director of EarthSave, International, Julieanna had the opportunity to bring nutrition to the forefront of efforts to improve the current global health crisis.