We’ve recently fallen in love with the nutritionist and behavioral therapist Dana James, who is the founder of Food Coach NYC/LA, a functional medicine nutrition practice that helps imbalances through nutritional and psychological exploration. What are we all thinking about right now? How not to gain weight this holiday season! James gave us a top to bottom guide…
From Dana James…
You’re at a holiday party and you hear that all too familiar voice. It says, “It’s okay to eat the spring roll because it’s gluten free and this will probably be dinner.” You listen, and you grab two, just in case this really is dinner! You then find yourself eyeing the chicken satay. The same voice says, “Hey, it’s Paleo”. And before you know it, you’ve had five and are hovering over the buffet table like you’re about to go on a juice cleanse tomorrow!
In a moment of sanity, you pause, breathe and observe that this is the same film you keep staring in each festive season. The only difference is that you get older, the men get balder and your skirt feels tighter. Agh! This year, you’re vowing to get a little sexier and little more graceful.
It’s your mind, not your idle fingers that get you into trouble over the festive season. Once you change your mindset, the food and booze will follow. You brain is literally wired for repetition, so the more you repeat a behavior the more automatic it becomes. This is why you don’t need to consciously think about how to get to the office even when you’re bleary eyed and hungover but it also explains why those post-imbibing 3am bodega runs don’t require much thought either. But the good news is, you can re-pattern these behaviors. Your brain does create new brain cells (called neurogenesis) and new neural pathways (neurogenesis) when you establish new habits, like drinking cinnamon-spiced warmed almond milk as your night-cap because the cinnamon neutralizes the free radicals from the alcohol consumed.
Here are seven mind inquiries to keep the decadent party food away from your mouth:
1. Know what type of woman you are. Are you a Wonder Woman feeling like you need to keep up with the boys’ boozing? Are you a Nurturer worried that saying “No” to food might offend someone? Are you a Femme Fatale worried that if you don’t have control over your food, you’ll lose total control? Or are you the Muse, who can transcend these patterns and not be influenced by her environment or emotions?
2. We can all be the Muse. She imbues grace and integrity. She trusts her word. She is relaxed around food and knows when to leave because she doesn’t have FOMO. How can you become more like the Muse?
3. Subconscious beliefs support your food habits. If you find yourself self-sabotaging, it’s not that you’re weak willed. You have erroneous beliefs that support your behaviors. The underlining message is often, “I won’t be considered good enough or a team player and I won’t be promoted.” Or, “I’ll be perceived as a diva and expelled from my social circle.” Or, “I’ll lose control, get fat and won’t be worthy of attention, affection and love.” What’s your belief message?
4. Dissolve these subconscious thoughts. Intellectually you know these statements are false, but your conditioned mind thinks they are valid. They’re not, not even a hint of it. You simply need a new imprint; one that says it’s emotionally safe to do the opposite of what you’ve been doing.
5. Write down your Muse response. When you hear the, “It’s okay to eat the gluten-free spring roll…” what will your Muse say? She might say, “Of course you can have it but if you want to be feel more magnetic and beautiful, it’s best if you say no.” She might say to the 3am bodega run, “Oh darling, that’s just an old pattern. Make yourself some cinnamon-scented warmed almond milk then go to bed. I promise you’ll feel better in the morning.”
6. Find a new habit. When you’re breaking a habit, it’s much easier (and more effective) if you can find a replacement habit. Just ditching the habit can propel you into a void where you often find yourself obsessing over the old habit. Then you crack and berate yourself for being a failure. What new habit will you choose?
7. Forgive yourself. You drank too much. It happens. But then you attempt to appease last night’s dietary sins by having a cold green juice the next morning. By noon, you’re ordering soup with extra slices of bread because you’re so hungry, cold, and irritated. Instead of over-compensating with an austere plan the next morning, forgive yourself, think about the fun you had last night, then get back to a clean eating plan, like the one below.
Intermittent Festive Season Cleanse
This cleanse is designed to be used between your holiday parties to help keep you sparkly, vitalized and fitting easily into your party dresses.
Find three days when you’re not drinking alcohol. These will be your cleanse days. They do not need to be consecutive. Just three days per festive week.This is a gluten-free and dairy-free meal plan. Choose organic as much as you can. Your meal sizes are equivalent to the size of your two hands. Drink 8 glasses of filtered water per day. Keep caffeine to one cup per day of either coffee or tea. Aim to eat every three hours. Most importantly have fun! Bond with some girlfriends and do it together.
Rose-infused filtered water
Organic chicken and vegetable soup with chickpeas and harissa
1 pink grapefruit with coconut sugar
3 tbs of coconut yogurt with lemon zest
2 tbs of aloe vera juice (such as Desert Lilly) in water
Warmed chia seed pudding topped with pomegranate seeds and orange zest
2 blood oranges
Warmed almond milk with cinnamon
Shot of chlorophyll with filtered water
2 organic eggs pan fried in coconut oil and dusted in turmeric
1 apple with cinnamon
Moroccan red cabbage and carrot salad with pan-seared wild salmon
Fresh ginger tea with raw honey