Feel Great During the Holidays Using the 80/20 Principle
It’s hard to believe that December is almost here. It seems to have really crept up quickly this year because we had such beautiful and relatively warm November weather in Victoria. Since so many festive events kicked off this past weekend, I was reminded that the holidays really are around the corner.
The holiday season is a favourite time of year for me because I love the ritual and magic it brings to my family and friends. It’s a time to really enjoy your community and celebrate. But many people have a hard time sticking to their health goals during. With so many treats abounding at every turn, it can be difficult to turn down that holiday cocktail with a friend. Or those shortbread cookies someone made for your office.
The 80/20 Rule
The good news is you really don’t have to miss out on the merriment this season, just keep the 80/20 principle in mind.
You might have heard of this approach in business, and in nutrition and health it’s something that can be applied throughout the year – not just during the holiday season. Basically it’s a way of eating where you focus 80 per cent of your food and drink intake on healthy and the remaining 20 per cent can take care of itself – even if it’s indulgent.
I think indulgences can be a double-edged sword. I value the enjoyment, socializing and pleasure of life but too much of a good thing can be just that, too much. It’s also important to not stress over your nutrition choices because that’s not healthy either. We all know that too much sugar, too much alcohol, and too many fatty foods are hard for your body to process and can leave you feeling sluggish.
With the 80/20 principle it becomes all about balanced nutrition. I promise your digestive system will thank you for choosing this path during the holiday season. As will your immune system. And your heart and liver too.
Using this approach, many of my patients eat well during the week and relax their food choices on the weekend. Or they plan around the events they have going on that week and adjust accordingly.
I like to look at both my intake during the day and the week when evaluating how balanced my nutrition is. So for instance, if I look at my week and I’ve got dinner out with some friends, I’ll plan to eat fairly clean that day but order the steak with gorgonzola sauce or amazingly rich pasta when we go out.
And I never feel bad about my choices because life and food are about enjoyment! I want to be able to fully enjoy my experience when I’m out for dinner. Who wants to just order a house salad when you’re somewhere delicious? This is the 80/20 principle at it’s best, when you feel good about what you’re eating.
The same approach is perfect for the holidays. If you know you have a work party to go to, or a family gathering where you’d like to indulge a bit, then just give thought to planning your nutrition around these events.
Eat really well leading up to that event so you can indulge and enjoy it but still maintain your health and wellness goals. Following this approach puts a lot less stress on your body and keeps you from feeling bogged down during a time when your schedule is full and you need energy to get through it all.
If you are new to focusing on nutrition quality, it’s not that difficult. I recommend eating good quality lean protein with every meal – things like turkey, chicken, tofu, beans and lentils, Greek yogurt, fish, and eggs. Choose antibiotic and hormone-free, grass-fed, where possible, when eating foods sourced from animals.
And keep it refreshing with lots of colorful and quality carbohydrates. Check out my previous post on warm salads, where basically it’s about everything but lettuce. I put everything on arugula lately: pasta sauce, warmed potatoes and steamed veggies, quinoa with shaved almonds, it all goes in my bowl.
Make It Nutritious and Delicious
And I’m also a big fan of eating food that is both nutritious AND delicious – I call this kind of food Nutrilicious. I really like the Whitewater Cookbooks Glory Bowl Sauce as it falls perfectly into this category. You can buy this sauce locally at many grocery stores, but it’s also easy enough to make your own and I promise once you’ve had a taste you’ll be back for more and doubling the recipe next time. It really is a great way to step up the flavor in whatever you’re eating.
I teach nutrition locally at St Michaels University School here in Victoria. We recently made this recipe with their Experiential Program called the Student Athlete Experience and most of them were very wary of it the first time they dripped it on their rice and vegetable bowl, only taking a little. But once they tasted how delicious it was, they were back for more and this time with a much more generous pour! Check out the recipe below.
No matter what you’re eating and drinking this holiday season, just be sure you take a balanced approach so that it makes you feel good. If you’re conscious of what you’re consuming, how your body is responding, and then adjusting to those needs, you’ll be ensuring health and happiness through all of December and into the New Year.
And if you have any questions or want to talk more about the 80/20 principle, or about general nutrition, I’m here to help. My goal is always help people feel healthy, from the inside out, and make a difference.
Glory Bowl Dressing
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp tahini paste
Combine nutritional yeast flakes, water, tamari or soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, tahini and crushed garlic in blender to prepare the dressing. Add oil in a steady stream. So amazing over veggies or any type of greens and grains.