Psychotherapist, Author, Speaker

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Robin D. Stone is a New York City based psychotherapist, coach and consultant who works to help you achieve your most optimal self. 

Posts tagged holidays
Making a Wheat-Free Pie Crust
 
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In blogs past I’ve written about the perils of eating wheat for some of us; how the protein gluten that’s found in wheat can lead to painful intestinal trouble and autoimmune problems as well as sluggishness and belly bulges. So if the coming holiday season inspires you to contribute something homemade and sweet to the table, here are a few alternatives to traditional pie crusts. 

Pre-packaged mixes:

William Sonoma featuring Cup4Cup, the highly praised flour blend created by a chef as a substitute for regular flour

Namaste, for biscuits and pie crust and other stuff too

Bob's Red Mill for sweet or savory crusts

Do It Yourself:

A recipe to make a piecrust from scratch 

 
8 Ways to Stay on Track This Holiday Season
 

It’s holiday time, and with the family gatherings, the mistletoe and hot toddies come temptations to eat and drink to excess. We all look forward to the festivities, but if you’re not careful, those joyous holiday gatherings can be diet disasters waiting to happen. Here’s a plan of action that makes it easy to enjoy the get-togethers and goodies without piling on the pounds.   

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1. Make Time to Move  
 

  • Schedule in a workout – for everybody. Suggest a new family holiday tradition: taking a walk together after your holiday meal to burn some calories and “make room” for dessert. Or crank up the iPod and get everybody dancing down the “Soul Train” line. Combining family time with exercise will give you a chance to bond and give you a break from the holiday fuss. Build snowmen, shoot some hoops, go ice skating, even rake up some leaves.
  • Dust off your home gym. You may be too busy to get to the gym, but you can work that stationery bike or treadmill while watching the morning news.
  • If you’re traveling, take your workout with you. Pack light stretch bands and a favorite exercise DVD and put them to use!                 


2. Don’t Skip Healthy Snacks and Meals Before Parties

Starving yourself before you go out won’t help you mind your portions. If you step up to a buffet and you’re famished, chances are you’re going to eat too much. Make sure to eat a light but satisfying midday lunch, and before you head for the party, take the edge off your hunger with a snack like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.


3. Only Eat What You Really Like

Be a food snob! You don’t have to sample everything on the buffet. If you don't love something, don’t even bother tasting it. Check out the spread for foods and flavors you adore and skip what you can have anytime. Indulge in your holiday favorites, then find a seat, take your time, and savor every mouthful. 


4. Choose Wine Over Mixed Drinks

Wine has substantially fewer calories compared with other alcoholic beverages. Wine weighs in at about 125 calories, as opposed to vodka and tonic (165 calories) or eggnog (320 calories).


5. Alternate Alcohol With Water

Since alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories, try alternating each drink with water or seltzer. You’ll save calories - and stay grounded!


6. Get Enough Sleep

With all the shopping, the cooking and taking care of guests, sleep gets shoved to the back burner. A lack of shut-eye can do more than compromise your skin and appearance. It has been linked with a higher incidence of obesity, hypertension, and other metabolic disorders. Sleep-deprived folks also exhibit higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.


7. Socialize Instead of Eating

Don’t stand around the food table when you’re at a party. Focus your energy on spending time with family and friends instead of raiding the buffet and bar!


8. Bring your own dish

I have a friend who is allergic to wheat and dairy. If she eats just a bit of cheese or bread she ends up in digestive despair. Whenever we go to a dinner party, she brings her own dish. She even brings a plastic sandwich bag to restaurants with rice crackers or rice bread. If you bring your own food, you’ll have just what you need to indulge worry-free.

 
Honoring Your Food-Mood Connection
 

I look forward to summer holidays because they remind me of family gatherings back home in Detroit. And of course at the centerpiece of every family gathering is food. 

Whether it was for a house party or a picnic in the park, summer meant aunts and uncles and cousins showcasing their special dishes, all made with love: we’d have potato salad, macaroni salad, greens, baked beans, often a seven-layer salad, a pound cake, a pie (with vanilla ice cream, of course), barbecued ribs, chicken, steak and burgers, and my favorite, hot dogs. I loved hot dogs so much that I would bypass all other meats glistening in barbecue sauce (fresh lemon juice and onions made it tangy, sweet and pungent all at the same time) and make a bee-line for the franks. I took mine smothered in sauce and topped with mustard and relish, in a soft, spongy bun. No matter what else he was “burnin’,” one of my uncles, aka the Grill Master, would make sure to throw some dogs on just for me. 

Times have definitely changed – I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten pork or beef, and haven’t had a hot dog in some years. I didn’t wake up one day and swear off meat, but over time, as I gravitated toward cleaner eating with more fruit veggies on my plate, my taste buds changed. A client asked recently, “You mean you never crave a hamburger?” “Never,” I responded. And I meant it. 

But this Memorial weekend, home was calling – maybe it was knowing that my little sister was in Detroit visiting the fam while I stayed put in NYC. So I decided to inaugurate summer with an homage to home. 

I’ll grill anything – I once made a shrimp-veggie stir-fry over charcoal. During a power outage some years ago, to my son’s delight, I grilled his pancakes. Yesterday I grilled chicken, turkey burgers, turkey chipotle sausage, and yes, turkey hot dogs. Once all the meat was done, I threw on some corn on the cob – after opening each ear slightly, removing some of the silk, and soaking in water about 15 minutes. Nothing says summer like fresh grilled corn. I made a potato salad, some veggie-baked beans and a green salad. I finished it all off with an apple pie. 

We’re usually a super-healthy food zone. My kids (my 15-year-pld son and my 22-year-old niece who lives with us – and therefore, at least temporarily, is my kid) often tease that the foods I prepare are too healthy for their tastes. “Mom, why don’t we eat like normal people?” My son often asks. I’m known for fruit smoothies for breakfast and hearty salads with salmon or shrimp for lunch, and I’d much rather “oven-fry” my chicken than pan fry it. But the kids usually eat everything I make and even concede that it’s pretty good. 

Every once in a while, though, I loosen my apron strings and reach for the foods that tug at my heart strings. It’s good to recognize how our emotions (from boredom to sadness to a longing for the good old days) often drive our cravings for some foods. Once we’re mindful of powerful mood-food connections, we can find healthy ways to go with, and not fight those cravings. 

Our menu this weekend was full of forbidden stuff for many who are counting calories, sugar and fat grams. But unless you’re on a medically restrictive plan, if you eat healthy and clean at least 90 percent of the time, it’s OK to splurge the other 10 percent of the time. Just don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that 50 percent is 10 percent – your waistband will be your reality check. 

This weekend we feasted (the leftovers are just as grand), and the kids were quite content. I’ll freeze some for quick and easy meals later. Soon enough the dogs will be gone and we’ll be back to 90 percent. But for the moment, we’ll enjoy this first taste of summer, and special taste of home. 

Have a Healthy Day, 
Robin

 
5 Steps for a Food Hangover
 
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Ok, so after a couple days of feasting on fabulous Memorial Day fixings of potato salad, baked beans, barbecued chicken and turkey hot dogs (yes, hot dogs) and apple pie, I faced the down side to veering from a clean diet.


For three days I felt as if I was hung over – not from too much drink but from too much food. Instead of an achy, foggy head and upset stomach, I feel stuffed, sluggish and stopped up.

That might be too much information, but when you’re eating clean – as in lots of fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains and simply prepared fish, chicken and lean meats – food passes through you easily and regularly. 

 
 

Regularly as in at least once and sometimes more a day. But when I went off the grid and ate too much typical-though-lightened-up holiday favorites, adding extra fat, sugars, and processed foods to my system, I felt the effects almost immediately.

It started with sleepiness just after dinner on Sunday, the day I cooked. And I didn’t just cook, I burned. Put my foot up in it, as some folks say. The kids were ecstatic that we had “real” food for a change, instead of my usual (though not predictable) grilled chicken/fish/shrimp and salads. And I enjoyed longtime favorites right along with them, eating small portions, but taking second helpings. Then sleepiness set in. Along with a bulging belly, that was a sure sign that I’d eaten too much.

I felt full when I went to bed and I still felt full the next day when I woke up. But I had another helping of for lunch anyway, and then for dinner, then topped it off with another slice of pie that night. Not once all day did I “feel” my body telling me it was hungry. By Day 3, I recognized that I was veering back to old habits, so I stopped and switched gears. 

It took about three days to get my system back on track. Here’s what I did, and what you can do to cure a holiday food hangover:

* Drink more water – more than your daily 6-8 glasses – to help get things moving again

* Eat cleanly and simply again as soon as possible and for as long as possible. Fruit and protein for breakfast, a light salad for lunch and lean meats and simple veggies for dinner. No prepared, processed, wheat or dairy.

* Boost exercise – I went from a 2-mile walk every other day to a 2½ mile walk/run three days in a row, then off one day. Moving your body helps aid digestion.

* Leave 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your first of the next (snacks included!) – to give your body a chance to process what’s already there. You should feel hungry when you wake – The sensation of hunger tells you that your body is processing properly and is ready for more. 

* Be patient. It typically takes 48-72 hours for food to make its way through your system. So while you may be back on track with clean eating, your body is still on overdrive, processing all the excess calories, carbs and sugars from your splurge. It may be five days before you sense your body responding to changes you made three days ago. Think of this adjustment as turning around a big oceanliner: You can't just spin on a dime. But follow these strategies and your body will respond and "catch up" with your clean routine. A sure sign that it's catching up: You're "regular" again.

Have a Healthy Day.
Robin