New year, new you? You already know the steps to take

The wonderful Ellie Krieger interviewed me for an article published this week in the Washington Post entitled, “Forget ‘detoxing’ with a fancy juice cleanse. Your body has it under control.”

She and I are both of the sentiment that no, we’re not starting from scratch on January 1st each year. If you’re reading my posts, you are already integrating whole foods into your world year round. The new year is about committing to being a little more present with the food on your plate; a little more mindful, more engaged, and more awake to seasonal possibilities — the same way we are all year! 

It’s amazing to me how we can get so hoodwinked every year into thinking that there’s some new-fangled magic bullet outside of ourselves that we need to try; that we’re going to shed unwanted pounds, get our health back on track, and go to the gym in the middle of the winter (good luck with that). Instead, I think we need to reset a little bit of our thought process around food, and think about the season that we’re in. This season is cold! And damp. We want to be thinking about broths, the soups, the teas… and perhaps accepting the invitation to resurrect some habits that you may have already started incorporating. Like:

Adding more vegetables to your plate
Taking a thermos of soup to work for lunch
Making yourself some healthy nibbles for that 4 o’clock
Getting enough sleep
Making time for what you love

That’s not a zillion things, that’s 5! And this is nothing you don’t already know!

Once you know what your true north is and what makes YOU feel good, you know how to go back home.

Anything that’s going to promise to do something in a week’s time is not the answer. Your body already knows how to detoxify 24/7 IF you just give it the foods it need to do it. 

This time of year, the great detoxifiers are readily available: cauliflower, broccoli, dark leafy greens. These are the janitors that come in during sleep and clean out the debris in your brain from the day before, so you feel refreshed when you awake. Whole foods are so beneficial that you can pick any recipe in the Recipe Box and it’s going to help you. The foods that aren’t going to help you: fast foods, a lot of sugar, and simple carbohydrates. And don’t beat yourself up if you enjoyed these over the holidays! You had a great time with friends and family. Now you can choose to cook and eat more simply

A plug for good sleep

If anything, I think what you might want to think about this time of year is getting good sleep. There’s so much great new research about how MUCH good sleep can help your health. I’m fond of the story told in this Experience Life article, The Healing Power of Sleep, about complete loss of health due to lack of sleep and complete restoration of health once sleep was resumed. (Don’t you love a good story?). 

Did you know that if you lack adequate sleep you are more likely to crave simple carbohydrates and sugar? You’re capable of making better food choices if you get enough sleep. And another food tip related to sleep: be sure to give yourself 3 hours before you go to bed to digest your food.

I’m in bed by 9:45pm. I close that office door, and gently wind down. I give myself time to prepare for sleep. I put my phone in another room, and read. That’s really helped me! Pay attention to what works for you, and take control. These are things that are within you. Not a detox. Just remember that sleep affects the food choices you make, your productivity and your mood!

For more information and inspiration about sleep, check out Arianna Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution

When you think about it, until recently in evolutionary terms humans were active during the day, working in the fields, for example...slowing down in the evenings, doing quiet things… and going to sleep when it was dark… waking up to the light! Emulating these natural rhythms can invite healthy sleep. 

Tempting healthy recipes!

This is the time of year to find organic cauliflower in markets at great prices! Cauliflower supports liver detoxification, helps control inflammation, and fights free radical damage — quite the star! And in this recipe it’s bathed in cumin, coriander and turmeric, that glorious trio of spices. You’ll LIKE this one :)

A perennial favorite from my book The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen. Isn’t it marvelous when health and flavor dance together? That’s my sandbox.

Ok, if you want to go a little new year-ish with something clean and green, I approve of this. You can’t do better than a soup with dark leafy greens in wintertime! Comforting, healthy AND delicious.