Friday, December 11, 2009

The Twelve Days Before Christmas Cleanse

If holiday eating was confined to the actual date of each holiday, then it wouldn't be a problem. No one would gain any weight because one or two days of feasting is not enough to overload the body.

I have a confession to make: I don't like the holidays. I know, I know . . . food bloggers are supposed to lovelovelove this time of year. We're supposed to be full of the magic of Christmas, the light of Hanukkah, the spirit of Yule, and, apparently, that means we're supposed to spend all our time baking and eating special holiday treats. Well, "special treats" don't come without calories, and, honestly, I find the two months of gorging -- from Halloween candy to swanky New Year's Eve hors d'oeuvres -- a bit too much to digest. Last year, I felt so run down after Christmas that I couldn't wait for spring cleanse season to arrive.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I don't like any of this festive food; I just don't need it every single day. Really, how many cups of hot chocolate, pieces of pie and cookies can a person eat and still have energy for the holiday shopping, the parties and the stress that comes with it all (not to mention the possibility of catching a cold or flu bug)? In addition, I've noticed that since I've been eating in the school cafeteria again, I've been munching on a lot more cookies, slices of cheesecake and other nibbles. It's time to stop the insanity. These "treats" aren't even all that good, so why am I eating them? It's just habit -- bad habit.

However, according to an old New York Times blog article that ran back in 2007, the average person only gains one pound during the holiday season. Despite this fact, most people feel as though they have gained more than that -- and I think the feeling is just as important as the actual weight (the article also states that overweight people tend to gain more than one pound). Considering that the average person does not actually lose that one pound, over the course of a lifetime this could easily add up to significant weight gain -- or at least several days/weeks of digestive discomfort.

For this reason, I have decided to hold off on Christmas goodies until it's actually Christmas. From tomorrow, the 12th, until Christmas Eve, I plan to cut out refined sugar (that's white and brown, but not things like brown rice syrup, raw honey, or agave nectar), reduce the white flour and eliminate anything excessively processed (which I tend to avoid anyway). This plan will effectively cut out most, if not all, cookies and desserts, sweetened drinks, and white breads. It's not really much of a cleanse; I mean, I could also cut out dairy, alcohol, caffeine, etc. I'm planning on going out tomorrow, so I don't want to cut out the alcohol just yet -- maybe I'll start that on Sunday. I really could start cutting back on the caffeine, too. I just want to feel as though I can go to my holiday parties and not feel as though I've already over-indulged and that I should watch what I'm eating. What fun is that?

However, this does not at all mean that I am giving up cooking and fun food -- quite the contrary! Since the semester is winding down and my workload is lightening up, I plan to do a lot of cooking in the next few weeks, all of which will be blogged.

I find myself really interested in getting creative with sweet potatoes, winter or butternut squash, kumquats and cranberries.

Y'know, now that I think about it, I tend to cook more often and eat better when I'm not stressed out from work. When I have a ton of papers to grade, I tend to not cook, not go the the gym, not do my yoga. I tend to eat pizza, subs and crap because it's easier when I don't have to make it. So, maybe the key to this holiday eating thing is learning to just chill out, make time for myself, and be prepared to say "no" to obligations that will unnecessarily upset my contentment and, possibly, digestion.

So, I'm going to start going over some recipes I've been dying to try, go to the market, and get started tonight!

For tonight, I'm thinking about homemade pasta and sauce -- really basic, really good. We'll see.

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