I have a definitive love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. Go to the gym, eat healthier, drink more water, be kinder to your friends and family … it’s always a somewhat banal yet optimistic collection of convictions, which if adhered to with any kind of seriousness would probably make us all skinny, dewy-skinned, boring humans.
Still, there’s a sweetness to fresh starts that cannot be denied, a latent expectancy that this will finally be the time we don’t mess up, when life gets happier, richer, more full of the what we should do’s and depleted of the excuses for a better tomorrow.
With this in mind, we bring you April Murray, a Registered Dietitian and the founder of Newport Beach-based OC Nutrition Coaching, who practices and preaches that healthy food should taste good. (Find her swoon-worthy Insta feed: @aprilmurrayrdn.)
April’s advice is practical and doable; it isn’t about drastically changing your diet in 2018 but instead focusing on thoughtful readjustments that’ll translate to a healthier version of the awesome person you already are.
WEST OCEANFRONT: My hangover from NYE is literally still lingering. Any recommended food or beverage that’ll make this thing go away?
APRIL MURRAY: I wish I had a magical cure for the hangover because I’ve been there before but the sad truth is this: If you’re going to go hard, you’re probably going to feel it the next day. My number one piece of advice to prevent a hangover is to limit how much alcohol you drink. But since this isn’t always realistic, there are a few things you can do to prevent it from being worse than it needs to be. I highly recommend hydrating throughout the day (and the day before) to prevent excessive dehydration. If you have electrolytes handy—Pedicure works well—try taking those before bed to prevent dehydration. If you’re still feeling lowly the next morning, order a green juice with extra ginger, which can help heal your tummy and reduce the inflammation that alcohol causes.
But if we’re serious about getting healthy and fit in the new year, is drinking an absolute no? Because wine …
I don’t believe in completely removing things from your diet, however alcohol is definitely something to drink in moderation, defined per day by one glass for females and two glasses for you lucky males. Technically anything over this may increase our risk of cancer, weight gain, high blood pressure and liver damage. Alcohol negatively impacts our sleep and because it is technically a depressant, it can make us feel bummed out or depressed.
Moderation is key.
So, for the past few weeks we’ve been snacking on gingerbread cookies and slurping up candy canes. Now that we’re in the habit of eating between meals, what’s a healthy way to satisfy that sweet tooth?
There are actually a ton of sweet treats that are considered healthy! Dark chocolate dipped in peanut butter is a must-try. I love KIND bars; the mint dark chocolate is one of my favorites. For you coconut lovers, try coconut butter, (Artisana has a great jar). I eat it by the spoonful. And I always like to remind my clients how sweet and delicious fruit can be. A bowl of fresh mango topped with crushed almonds is one of my go-to snacks. I do have a sweet tooth but in general, I aim to avoid artificial sweeteners when shopping labels and try to purchase foods with the least amount of ingredients. Simple, good quality food is BEST whenever possible.
Ugh and butter. So much butter over the holidays! Can you help us out with some foods that contain the healthy kind of fats?
Yes I can, and grass-fed organic butter is actually one of them. Research is starting to point the finger more at sugar than butter, so don’t be surprised to see a lot more “fatty foods” in the health stores this year.
MCT oil is my new favorite; I add it to my coffee every morning. Other great fats are avocado, almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil, pecans, walnuts, salmon, sardines, egg yolks and organic, full-fat dairy products. I include a fat at every meal for flavor and longer satiety.
Portions are huge (quite literally during the holiday season) as a way to curb weight gain. What’s your philosophy on healthy portion sizes?
The number one reason my clients lose weight is because they learn to control their portion sizes. How do they do it? They learn to tune into their hunger and fullness cues. Most of us ignore our fullness cues and continue eating past fullness, which usually leads to weight gain.
Instead of worrying about measuring and weighing foods, my best advice is to eat slowly until you feel just satisfied.
Practice makes perfect; this might sounds easy but it’s actually a skill you have to build. Try it at your next meal!
AVOCADO. It’s not a question, just a word of beauty. Seriously though, do you have a favorite avo dish we can make during our post-holiday trim-down?
I know it’s cliché but I really love avocado toast. I’ve been eating that stuff since high school. Add a little sea salt or lemon pepper and you’re good to go!
Do you recommend any exercises or routines to jump-start our 2018 fitness goals? Yoga? Spin? Weight training? A combo of all three?
I love this question because I love my answer. The best exercise is the one you’ll actually do! It’s the exercise you actually enjoy. For me, it’s been walking and listening to audiobooks.
Juicing is BIG. Everyone seems to have a DIY juice or sell one. Do you have a morning juice or shake recipe you can share with us?
I am not a big juice fan myself, but I do enjoy them on occasion. Most juices and smoothies tend to be really high in sugar, which can cause a sugar crash or fatigue later on in the day. When I do order a green drink, I try to make sure it is basically 80% non-starchy veggies and 20% fruit or starchy veg (like beets or carrots). I always add lemon and ginger for a more balanced flavor. For instance, at a juice bar, I would order a drink with kale, celery, spinach, cucumber, ½ an orange, ginger and lemon.
If you think about it, healthy mornings set you up for healthy days, and healthy days add up to a healthier year. So, how do you start your mornings to get you on the right track for salubrious success?
I start my morning with water, and lots of it! Most days I take a shot of apple cider vinegar with cayenne pepper to wake up my system and promote gut health. I always enjoy a cup of coffee with 1 to 2 Tbsp. MCT oil mixed in. Most days I also leave time to spare for a nice walk outside; it helps me clear my head and keeps me calm. For breakfast, I trade off between whole plain yogurt with nuts/fruit or eggs with avocado and fruit. I never leave the house without a water bottle and some type of snack like nuts, a KIND bar or a boiled egg.