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Indulge: 10 Easy Rules for Feeling Great January 29, 2010

I don’t deprive myself of cravings, I don’t diet, I don’t count calories, I don’t eliminate any vegan foods from my diet, I will eat anything vegan, and I have chocolate every day. Today I’m sharing some of the food wisdom that helps me get through the week and keeps me healthy, happy and fit.

1-Enjoy a rainbow. Eat all colors of foods, especially when it comes to veggies and fruits. Take time in the produce aisle or farmer’s market to explore and try new things. Don’t be intimidated; you can always Google a vegetable’s preparation. Buy what tickles your fancy because food should be enjoyable.

2-Get a bit of fat. I gained the most weight when I tried the fad fat-free diet. Now I eat a decent amount of healthy fats from soy, avocados, nuts, seeds, olive, flax and coconut oil, and I feel full, without my body freaking out that it’s not getting any fat and thus holding on to whatever it can produce from sugar and carbs.

3-Protein. I don’t feel full without eating protein at each meal and most snacks. I always make sure I roll that in or else I stay hungry. Good sources are beans, nuts, seeds, and veggie meats. Some whole grains already contain a lot of protein, like quinoa.

4-Don’t forget the treats. No chocolate? I don’t think so. Yes, Ms. Sweet Utopia eats treats each day. I just make sure I don’t overdo it. And if I do, I drink extra water, reduce the next meal substantially or eat only veggies for a little bit, and I kick up the exercise. Once you are in tune with your body, you can really tell where your body’s balance is, and do what it takes to maintain it when something like sugar comes around a little too strong.

5-Build your meals using carb blocks. Whole grains are best, but don’t overdo portion sizes of any of them. Using fat, protein and plenty of raw or lightly cooked vegetables with your carbs allows you to eat less carbs and still fill up. I eat various breads, pastas, rice, quinoa, millet, etc. but I don’t overdo it too often.

6-Snack a lot. I have a healthy, filling snack between each meal so I don’t have to eat 3 huge main meals.

7-Drink up. Keep hydrated with water. A glass or two of green tea, coffee, herbal tea, fortified nondairy milk, or very watered down juice is also good. Bonus points if you break out the juicer.

8-Mix it up & be happy. Vary everything you eat to maximize nutrition and enjoyment. Vegan and healthy should never bore you.

9-Movement and Rest. You really do need to get off your butt! Especially if you’re stuck at a computer all day. Carve out exercise time. Take a few extra minutes at your break to go to the gym and at least do cardio. Get up earlier. Run around or dance with your kids. Use weights. Do yoga. Go for walks and hikes. Or just jump around for a few minutes here and there. All this will kick up your metabolism so you can eat what feels good to you and not worry about it. And make sure that you get lots of rest. A good solid chunk of sleep at night, naps when you can, and just resting any other time you feel you need it will keep you healthy and less burned out.

10-Supplement. Everyone-especially vegans-needs to make sure they are getting the basics. I always add things in to our meals like flax oil or flax meal, DHA, nutritional yeast for B vitamins, dulse flakes for trace minerals, and green probiotic powder. We take multivitamins and calcium/vitamin d/magnesium, and other vitamins as needed. If we feel we’re getting sick, we’ll fight it with zinc, vitamin c and echinacea and herbal immune support supplements. It works well. Take some time to tour the vitamin section of your health food store. We’ll talk more about supplements another time.

You can eat really well and be radiantly healthy, without extremes and deprivation. It’s all about making smart choices and finding your own balance so that you can be fit and feel great.

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