Over the past 10 years, my East Coast Italian family has grown more health conscious during the holidays. We have many of the traditional foods, but there are always wonderful healthy options at the table, including roasted veggies, green salads, veggie salads and other raw foods. Like many people, I cooked a turkey with gravy and mashed potatoes, but the rest of the meal was plant-based, relatively low fat and full of nutrients. Even so, it was a bit heavier than our norm, and I woke up Friday feeling a tad puffy and craving cleansing food and a green drink.
The day after Thanksgiving I walked into the bustling downtown district of Laguna Beach, California. California tends to be more health conscious than much of America, so I was surprised by what I saw. Nearly every restaurant was packed, and a remarkable number of people were eating huge sandwiches, French fries, burgers, eggs Benedict and other super-rich fare.
The average American consumes an extra 600 calories per day between Thanksgiving and New Year's, which can translate into several pounds and inches. By the time 5 weeks pass, we have effectively created new -and unhealthy- eating habits, and are faced with an uphill climb to undo the damage. So what might happen if we decided to "pick our poison"? What if we recognize that we'll be indulging and do our best to counterbalance that excessive energy with letting our bodies rest and regroup in between parties? I love to eat, and am capable of diving off the deep end if I allow myself to, but the price is high and not worth it to me. We ate leftover stuffed squash, green beans and Brussels sprouts for dinner on Friday, and yes, we had pumpkin pudding too, but the day started with a big green smoothie and continued with a salad and black bean soup. I'm making soup out of the leftover turkey today and picked up beautiful liver-cleansing greens at the Farmer's Market this morning. I was surprised not to see more people out buying the antidote to excess: plants. If after overindulging we made efforts to "bring in the good" the balancing act would be so much easier, and we could enjoy our indulgences with no remorse and few side effects. How about a green drink with that turkey sandwich?