It doesn’t seem to matter what year it is, eating healthier is on the minds of many walking into the new year. Some people are striving to lose weight and improve health, using the New Year as a fresh start. Others have just gotten food-fatigued, moving from gathering to gathering and wanting to sample all the delightful morsels and fun cocktails as they went along.
Kara Kash, a registered dietitian who currently serves as the full-time dietitian food delivery service Factor, recently chatted with The Gourmet Insider about several ways to shift eating patterns from those of the joyful overindulgence of the holiday season to more slimmed down portions. And some of her tips may even surprise you (aka, you don’t have to give up all the good stuff!). Read on to get her take on balance, dietary changes and how to shift your mindset for a healthier you.
The Gourmet Insider: What are some misnomers about healthy eating in general?
Kara Kash: One of the biggest misconceptions about healthy eating is the need to restrict in order to enjoy your favorite foods. Not only does unnecessary restriction deprive your body of key nutrients, it can also backfire and lead to overindulgence. Restriction can also cause uncomfortable hunger pangs, increase fatigue and headaches, and decrease mental focus.
To help reduce stress and anxiety around making food choices, remove the labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ associated with certain foods. Removing these labels can reduce the moral burden of your dietary choices and in-turn decrease the urge to restrict. Focus your attention on overall balance and moderation.
TGI: What should people know going in about temptations or their own responses to food?
KK: Temptation is one of the biggest barriers to achieving wellness goals and can drastically increase around the holidays with all of the yummy treats. The good news is that once we recognize why temptations occur, it may be easier to overcome them.
Habit is a usual cause of temptation. If you’re reaching for a sweet treat every night, your body recognizes this as a habit and drives the behavior to continue. Temptations also stem from a biological response tied to our primal days. Our brain releases dopamine in response to eating processed and sugary foods. This ‘feel-good’ hormone rewards you for that behavior, which in turn, increases cravings and the natural desire to repeat that behavior.
To help overcome temptations, tune-in to your body. Check in with your hunger and fullness cues throughout the day and at mealtime. Honoring these cues is key to controlling temptations and reducing caloric intake! Still feeling tempted? Grab a big glass of water and find a non food-related distraction.
TGI: How can having some healthy meals in the can — either prepped, pre-made or delivered — help?
KK: It can be challenging to keep your fridge stocked with fresh and wholesome foods. That’s where meal prep comes in handy. Having healthy, prepared meals and snacks on hand reduces the chance of needing to order takeout last-minute or reach into your cabinet for a processed snack. Also, pre-portioned meals and snacks can help to reduce your daily intake of calories and keep you on track to meet your goals.
TGI: How can you still feel like you’re indulging a bit, even if you’re eating healthy?
KK: What we want to avoid is overindulgence, which can prevent you from reaching your goals. The key here is to consume a healthful and balanced diet to nourish your body and keep it from feeling restricted or deprived. Then, when it comes time to enjoy a treat, opt for a small portion, keep it to a single serving, and savor every bite.
Factor is a meal-delivery solution that offers fresh, prepared meals designed for a variety of different wellness goals. These meals are portioned and contain a balance of lean proteins, healthy fats, veggies, and complex carbs.