Hey gang. I’m back from Texas. Sorry for the dry spell here on the blog. I’ve been working my tail off in the humid, heat waved NYC. This is a busy time of year for me, so if bloggage isn’t as regular, you’ll forgive me and we all can pretend I’m keeping leisurely “summer hours,” right? Which, in a way, I suppose I AM keeping summer hours. Long hours, not leisurely hours, but whatevs. Ha!
Oh, and let me apologize upfront for the randomness of the images in this post. Beauty shots will have to wait, because I’m busy ;-)
Luckily, it’s not all work. Mostly work, but not all. You might recall my “Big Fat Afghani Wedding Adventure” post from back in April, where I posted pics of the lavish buffet dinner at a wedding I attended. To be sure, it was a meal to be remembered, and I didn’t eat lightly. Everything in moderation, including moderation, right?
I drafted this here post a while back and never got around to publishing it. Now I”m glad, because what better time to publish it than in summer, where there are lots of parties, but also lots of pool and beach and bikini and bathing suit time? For me, this post is especially timely, as I’ll be spending some time at the beach in the coming days.
There’s no need for a large meal to cause ongoing drama. So can we indulge a bit yet still keep on track overall? I definitely think so. It’s important to look at the big picture. One large meal doesn’t have to make or break our eating and health goals. It doesn’t have to be the start of a downward spiral! But there are a few things we can do before, after, and during the meal to put the odds of bouncing back in our favor.
As a Yoga teacher, I try to maintain balance, both in my eating and exercise habits. It’s also important to not be rigid–to be flexible and not such a slave to one’s own principles, as of of my friends (also a fellow Yoga teacher) likes to say.
So here are a few tips I find helpful for celebratory special occasion meal. The tips that follow are tips I’ve gleaned from nutritionist friends, research, and my own personal experience, and I share them with my clients, and now, with my readers, too.
I’m using these tips now myself, as my friends Denise and Rich are getting married and their engagement party is coming up. They’re foodies, so you know the cuisine will be excellent. An aside: Denise actually has a really hilarious website called Really Bad Dates that she hasn’t updated in a while, so I encourage everyone to go on over there and submit bunches of bad dates you’ve been on. Your tales of woe are completely anonymous, of course, I’m hoping that she’ll see some fresh new submissions and start updating the site again (in between bouts of wedding planning and working). Her site’s a winner.
Ok, now on to the tips. Remembering that these tips are not medical advice, and that your mileage may vary. If you have any tips of your own to add, please leave a comment. I’d love to know your tips and tricks for enjoying a big meal without big misery after.
Before the Meal:
1. Cut out or at least limit bread and desserts for a few days (or at least a few hours!) ahead of the meal. Eat lots of vegetables to have a good fiber intake.
2. Daily: Drink a warm cup of filtered water with fresh lemon or lime juice as your first drink of the morning. It’s very cleansing to the digestive tract, liver, and blood. For an extra boost, add in a splash of apple cider vinegar, which can help ease bloat.
3. Consider taking a probiotic, or eating or drinking something with natural probiotics. These helpful bacteria help to ease our digestion. Probiotic sources include kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha. Or you can use this vegan probiotic that I happen to like a lot.
4. The day of, eat lightly but don’t starve yourself. What works for me is a green smoothie for breakfast and a large salad with some sort of protein for lunch. For example, the day of the Afghani wedding, I had a late lunch of a spinach salad with a wedge of a vegetarian frittata as a protein source. A filling, nutritious, yet light meal.
4. To further prevent bloat: Only eat fruit on an empty stomach, and well ahead of any protein. Since fruit digests quickly–usually within 45 minutes–it’s important to time when we eat it carefully. Eating it too close to a big meal (either before OR after) can cause bloating, because the fruit gets stuck in our digestive tracts as the bigger, heavier proteins and fats digest. In other words, things get, uh, “backed up.” We start to feel bloat and perhaps constipation. Not fun!
During the Meal:
1. Scope out the buffet/menu choices ahead of time if at all possible, to get a sense of what is available, what you want to eat more of, and what you might prefer to skip.
2. Slow your roll. As in, eat slowly, putting your utensils down in between bites.
3. Use small plates if possible. You can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Studies have shown that we do tend to eat what’s put in front of us, and I find the small plate trick really works. I do this at home most of the time, except for big servings of salad and veggies.
4. Enjoy. Seriously, this important. If you’re going to have a lavish meal, enjoy every bite. You might even find that by tuning into each bite, you are satisfied with less food overall.
5. Enjoy not just the meal, but the company you’re with. Savor the moment. Life is short, and we have to remember that every moment is precious.
After the Meal:
1. MOVE! Walk around and/or dance a bit (or a lot!) to stay active.
2. Lemon Water, again. Start your next morning with warm lemon water again.
3. Probiotics again. Take another probiotic to aid digestion.
4. Drink some unsweetened cranberry juice. This will ease bloating. My double whammy trick to get a healthy dose of both probiotics and cranberry? Cranberry kombucha.
4. Then drink a green smoothie for breakfast, but only sip it when you’re hungry. You can always make it and take it with you to enjoy once the hunger pangs hit.
5. If you’re not hungry, don’t force yourself to eat. It’s okay to eat very lightly for a day or two after a large meal.
And what of these green smoothies? Well, here is one basic recipe to try:
Summer Green Smoothie with a Tropical Twist.
Ok, so if you made it to the end of this post, congrats. Got kinda long-winded there! Now go out and enjoy that summer fun!