My task last Friday was to spend two days getting all my Christmas presents ready and wrapped, and then to post a blog today about what wacky and wonderful gift ideas I’ve come up with this year. I know myself so well… I knew that I would procrastinate on this one, so I prepared a different blog post for today in advance. Don’t hold your breath for my upcoming post on “Weird, wacky and wonderful gift ideas” but it’ll hopefully be out some time next week. Today’s post is quite apt for me. I’ve been neglecting to feed myself properly this last couple of weeks. I haven’t had time to make any filling, healthy, on the go snacks and I’m really starting to feel the effects of surviving on empty calories.
Day 14 – A Sensitive Cynic’s Christmas Survival Guide
Without fail, I end up feeling like a huge lump of Christmas pudding splattered all over the floor by the end of December.
This year, I would like to feel more like a fresh, crisp salad. I know, I know, I’m being a tad unrealistic here, but still, even if I merely feel like a small delicate dollop of un-splattered Christmas pudding, that would be a step in the right direction.
As I mentioned in my post “Running on empty“, I’m a sensitive girl, which means that I can’t really get away with neglecting my nutritional needs for too long before it really shows in my energy levels, my patience levels and my ability to fight off germs. I guess this is a good thing really, because at least I am in tune with the kind of foods and drinks that make me feel crisp and fresh, and those that make me feel all splattered-pudding-y.
There’s just one problem – my personality is also the obsessive type. That means that when I’m busy doing something, I am engrossed to the point of failing to eat and drink. Whether I’m writing a song, doing my online Christmas shopping, or cleaning the house, I find it really hard to stop what I’m doing and eat. If I’m performing in a concert, I just cannot eat beforehand, and that can sometimes mean missing lunch and dinner and just managing on a banana or a smoothie all day. Then, when the concert is over, I’m ravenous and end up picking up a bag of chips on the way home.
Not ideal when my body isn’t exactly the tough type that can take a lot of neglect and still bounce back.
The good thing is that in the last few years, I’ve found that I really notice what happens after I eat certain foods. I’ve started to register how I feel afterwards. I’ve been able to find a mindful approach towards eating and drinking.
For example, I always used to be a chocoholic. It was my “go-to” food whenever I was stressed, tired, upset or just needing a bit of a pick-me-up. But I’ve noticed that it always seems to leave me feeling edgy and irritable and I don’t like the sugar rush; it makes me unable to think straight. And the next day, I always seem to have a bit of a cold and a sore throat. So what’s happened is that my “perception” of chocolate has changed. I’ve stopped seeing it as that lovely friend who takes me by the hand, gives me a big hug and tells me everything’s going to be fine. I now perceive chocolate as a bit of a fraud, full of empty promises and leaving me with nothing but mind-fog and mucous.
Other foods and drinks that I now tend to have sparingly are wheat bread, cow’s milk, wheat cereal, pastry, cake, coffee and alcohol. My brain has cottoned on to how they make me feel, and it no longer craves them; in fact most of the time, it rejects them, unless I’m in a state of high stress or upset and the logical part of my brain has shut down.
Unfortunately, during busy periods, I inevitably fail to make time to prepare snacks and meals which give me the energy that I am going to need to get through that busy time unscathed. I find myself putting off eating until I absolutely have to, knowing full well that I will only have time to prepare something from the above list of foods I don’t feel good eating….stuff that won’t actually satisfy me in the long run and will leave me feeling bleugh.
Thought for today
December is always one of those “busy periods”. It’s also a time when there is loads of rich, sugary, salty, fatty food on offer. The thing is, in the past, I would have craved that stuff and eaten way too much of it. But this year, I’ve gotta be honest, I’m just not that bothered. Which is why I need to make sure I have some alternatives, because I know that if I don’t, I’ll either end up eating stuff I don’t really want, or I won’t eat anything I really enjoy because I don’t have it prepared.
I will still end up eating rich food, eating way too much of it, and that’s absolutely fine! It’s Christmas, a time for feasting. However, I want to feel that I have the choice to eat something a little lighter and healthier if that’s what I’m craving instead.
I also want to make sure that in the week or so leading up to Christmas, I take the time to have stuff I can grab during those busy times when I’m focussed on something, and don’t want to stop what I’m doing to eat. Some high energy snacks, some freezer meals, and some simple, healthy and tasty dishes I can quickly throw together in a few minutes and eat on the run.
Task for today
Last Sunday my task was to spend a few days re-charging my soul, and getting some quiet time with God. This Sunday and next Sunday I’ll be tasked with re-charging my body by trying to stay healthy in what will be a very hectic few weeks.
Below are some of my favourite things to have on hand. I’m going to try and make some of these today and during the coming week.
Firstly, I want to pick just a few things I know I can manage to make today with what I already have in the house.
Then I’ll need to make a quick shopping list and pick up the ingredients for any that I want to make during the week. It won’t be realistic to make more than one or two things each day, but I want to be deliberate about this and really impress on my busy brain the importance of this task.
This may be a “Christmas Survival Guide” but actually, I want to do more than just survive the next few weeks – I want to thrive.
Before I write down any recipe ideas, here are a few simple and essential steps for me to take –
Drink plenty of water. Being hydrated is more important than anything else. I can eat as healthily as I like, but if I’m dehydrated, my body will struggle to extract the nutrients from the food I eat. I love drinking water with a piece of vanilla pod inside to add natural flavour. Looks like a worm at the bottom of the glass, so great fun for freaking friends out 😉
Make breakfast the night before if possible, or at least get the ingredients ready.
Keep a constant supply of “sprouted” seeds and beans as they are powerhouses of nutritional energy. Alfalfa seeds, mung beans, chick peas, lentils and broccoli seeds are my favourites.
Grow sunflower seeds in a shallow tray of soil. If I plant them now they’ll be ready as green shoots to eat by Christmas week, and they offer a really good source of nutrition. Easy to eat on the run too.
Detoxing is a great way to increase energy levels, but now isn’t a great time for a full detox. However, things like deep breathing for a few minutes, body brushing, brisk walking in fresh air and bathing in Epsom salts are quick and easy ways to flush out toxins (as well as drinking plenty of water).
It’s too easy to skip those early nights at this time of year. But sleep is so important for me to keep my energy levels up and my grouchy levels down. Grabbing early nights and power naps when I can is really important.
When stressed, the following things are really helpful: Fresh air, chewing on mint leaves (also helps keep away chocolate cravings!), making a really nice salad for myself, drinking water, deep-breathing, lavender oil, putting on some music with a good beat, having a good cry, writing stuff down, off-loading my worries to God, reading the Psalms out loud, and asking others to pray for me. Some of these take time, which is often what I’m lacking when stressed, but some can be done while multi-tasking!
So here are some of my favourite things:
Hot morning drink
Hot water with slices of ginger and lemon, a few optional cloves.
My favourite smoothie
Looks like brown sludge but can be made up and put in a glass jar to have on the run (remember a straw). It can also be stored in the freezer:
Put the following in a blender: Cacao or cocoa powder, ginger, chopped fresh fruit, a few kale or spinach leaves, freshly squeezed orange juice, flesh of one avocado, honey, grated nutmeg and cinnamon, some water. (Optional hemp protein powder or ground seeds). I don’t know the measurements as I do it all with intuition!
My favourite salad
If I don’t eat my greens I really do start to wilt. I often get into a rut at busy times and don’t make this salad because I wait to eat until I’m so hungry that salad won’t cut the mustard and only a high protein egg will do. I love eggs, but not everyday. So I need to get back to basics and make this for myself as an early lunch:
Dark green leaves (kale, watercress, rocket, spinach etc), tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, green pepper, any other raw salad stuff really. Also, sprouted alfalfa, sprouted mung beans etc.
Dressing – tahini, dill, apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy flavour, full of B vitamins, usually available in health food shops.)
Mix together and scatter some hemp seeds or pumkin seeds on top.
My favourite chocolate
I know I said chocolate didn’t make me feel good, but raw chocolate made from cacao powder makes me feel great! The downside is that it’s really expensive so I can’t eat too much too often, but I think I can indulge a little in the week before Christmas. This is a healthy pick me up. Well, it still has to be sweetened so it’s not 100% healthy, but it’s healthy enough! I love the late Polly Noble’s Fruit and Nut Slice from this webpage – it’s very quick to make (and even quicker to eat):
If I’m really really short of time and need that chocolate hit NOW then the Rawtarian has a great solution:
I love the Rawtarian’s website, as she loves quick and simple recipes and they’re also delicious and nutritious. Here are a few faves:
Breakfast cereal recipe. (I pour homemade or store-bought almond milk on this)
I haven’t made Kale crisps all year. It’s time I got back to them, they are so addictive. I use a dehydrator but you can get away with putting them in the oven, as long as it’s on really low with the door open:
I recently made some sugar free muffins and kept them in the freezer. They were so handy to grab on my way out the door and eat when defrosted later in the day. Here they are:
There are loads of recipes out there that I love which are also relatively healthy, this is just the tip of the iceberg. But while I’m busy, it’s good to keep the focus on what I love best and make sure I’ve got them handy in the cupboard, fridge or freezer.
This task will be repeated next Sunday, as I’ll need to make another batch of stuff for Christmas week.