It’s “healthy January” y’all. And you know what that means. ‘Tis the season when everyone and their dogs hop on the treadmill, and make vows to “eat better,” workout more, and drink more water… Okay, the water thing is legit. Chronic dehydration is probably responsible for 47% of the world’s problems.
So open the hatch, and chug-a-lug, friends.
The rest though? Sounds kind of… ahem, a little too “healthy,” to me.
“Healthy.” Bah humbug. Can we just give that word – and ourselves – a rest this year? Please?
Because. I. Just. Can’t.
What does “healthy” even mean?? I realize I might be pushing a few buttons with what I’m about to say, and this is a sensitive topic for many (myself included,) but I’ve been thinking about “healthy eating” a lot recently. Hang with me.
At best: “healthy” is a miasma of buzz words that validate our food choices like a gold star, telling us we’re “eating right.” But what is “healthy” based on? Government advice (which is typically heavily influenced by corporate lobbyists)? A trending pin you saw on Pinterest several years ago? Pop culture icons like Michael Pollan (whom I adore, btw)? And even if we could pin-point who or what defines “healthy,” is “healthy” right for you and your body? “Healthy” is typically something we’ve learned – from somewhere we can’t really pin-point – about what is “good” or “bad” food: low-fat. Low-cal. Organic. Superfoods. All-natural. Artisinal. Low-carb. Sugar-free. Gluten-free. Skinny. Clean. Cleanse. Detox. Local. The list goes on… Without context or any real meaning, these labels open a gateway to a spiral of shame, blame, and even self-punishment when one “falls off the wagon” and eats something “bad.”
At worst: “healthy” is an insidious collection of ideas curated by the diet and beauty industries who inject our brains to believe we aren’t enough. Our bodies are too big. Too loud. Too much. Healthy is a thin-obsessed, fat-phobic, misogynistic shrink-wrapped label that demands we buy into the latest quick-fix or fad diet. And when these things fail, as they inevitably will (they’re inherently unnatural and unsustainable), we blame our willpower, or lack thereof; we blame ourselves. “Healthy” denies our body’s natural cravings and restricts what we put in our mouths so as to restrict our shape and size. In the hopes that we will – someday – be enough. Spoiler alert: someday never comes.
These last few months I’ve been doing some deep digging and realized I, myself, have a form of disordered eating.
I’d never thought of it this way before. I don’t typically binge eat. I don’t purge. But I have been practicing restrictive eating for YEARS. It has become so entrenched and almost instinctual, I can’t even tell you when it began. If I’m like most women, and I am, it probably started when I was a young girl. For as long as I can remember, I’ve avoided certain “bad” foods, restricted myself from eating at particular times of day (no matter how hungry I felt or how much I wanted the ice cream), and carried the heavy and persistent belief around that if I could just lose 15 pounds and tone my tummy, I’d feel more confident, be more attractive, and wear the cute crop top. I’ve stressed and punished my body through excess exercise I didn’t enjoy to “work off” the burger or the cake or the block of cheese.
Mmmmm… block of cheese.
More recently though, I’ve been re-learning how to honour my hunger, cravings, mental health, and my body. I kicked off 2021 eating what I want, when I want, with self-compassion, and trusting my body knows what it needs. The Intuitive Eating framework has been everything. Learning how to listen to my body is a work in progress for me. A process in growth. A path to healing by feeling my way through food and feeling damn good about it. I’m learning I can eat the burger or the cake or the block of cheese and feel satisfied and “healthy,” not guilty; I don’t have to work it off.
And neither do you.
Because “healthy” looks different for different people. In every way. What a 120 pound cyclist needs to be “healthy” is different from a 250 pound weight-lifter, likewise, as someone who is fairly active, what I need is different from someone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle.
#Truthbomb: even if we ate the same foods and moved the same ways, we’d all have different, beautiful bodies.
Let’s be crystal: weight is not a barometer of health. Being smaller will not make us happier. Losing those extra pounds will not make us more valuable, lovable, or worthy. Because we already are all those things simply because we EXIST and are ALIVE.
I don’t know about you, but I want to experience all the aspects of my full, vibrant, sensual, delicious life.
Instead, let’s approach January – and 2021 – with a kindness to ourselves and others, where we gauge health by:
Feeling. Are you happy? Satisfied? Full? Energetic? Our bodies have innate knowledge and communicate through feeling. If something feels bad in your body, it’s simply conveying whatever it is, is not right for you. And you can change it. For example, my body does really well with nutrient-dense, whole foods. Most of my meals revolve around those. Because when I eat highly-processed foods, I’m often in the bathroom 30 minutes later (💩), or knocked out on the couch in a food coma for the rest of the day. So I eat and do what feels good for me and my body. What feels good to you? Do more of that. Eat more of that. Be more of that.
Rest. If we’ve ever been given permission to slow the heck down, it was 2020. I invite you to carry that forward this year, and give yourself space to rest so you have the energy, kindness, and motivation to focus on what’s really important to you. Over-training and over-extending our energy and time does no one – including ourselves – any favours. Take a nap. Go to bed early. Sleep in. Log off the damn device. Rest.
Movement. Do you know what kind of movement feels good in your body? Never-mind what’s going to make your glutes bigger or your waist smaller. Forget rigorous training, burning calories, or trying to hit certain fitness goals. What can you do to enjoy movement, every day? For me, right now, this is 30 minutes of yoga, walking around the neighbourhood, a Sweatin’ to the Oldies video on YouTube, some gentle body-weight or lightly-weighted exercises, free-style dancing to my favourite Spotify list (aka flailing my arms and legs in various directions), or playing Just Dance on the TV.
Laughter. Straight from your beautiful, satiated, happy belly.
Nourishment. Speaking of bellies, we can eat food that is nutrient-dense AND we can eat food that nourishes our souls. Like this recipe for Sheet-Pan Roasted Tandoori Chicken with Salt Spring Kitchen Co Tandoori Chutney.
At first glance, you might not think you can pull this off with only a handful of ingredients. But the truth is, this Tandoori Chicken recipe is oh-so simple. It’s made using a lot of ingredients you might even have on hand right now.
Let me break the ingredients of this Tandoori Chicken recipe down for you…
You’ll need chicken, Greek yogurt, Tandoori chutney, green onion, and a few ‘fixins to serve. I like sliced red onion, (charred) lemon, sliced cucumbers, roasted potatoes or cauliflower, fresh cilantro, warmed naan bread, and extra Greek yogurt & Tandoori chutney for dipping, because yum.
You *could* use any Tandoori chutney in this recipe, but trust me: the Tandoori Chutney from Salt Spring Kitchen Co is a jar of cozy yumminess you’re gonna want to have in the fridge this year. Loaded with tomatoes, mangoes, brown sugar, white sugar, apple cider vinegar, onions, jalapeños, raisins, lemon juice, ginger, mustard seeds, and Tandoori spice, it’s like a hug for your mouth.
Tuck in, kids. Rest. Love your body. And eat whatever and whenever you need to. Including this Sheet-Pan Roasted Tandoori Chicken. Be good to yourselves, and each other. Happy new year.
Sheet-Pan Roasted Tandoori Chicken
- 3 Tbsp Salt Spring Kitchen Co Tandoori Chutney
- 1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 C chopped green onion
- Coarse sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
- 4 pieces of chicken bone-in + skin removed (breast or thigh)
- To serve optional: sliced red onion, (charred) lemon, sliced cucumbers, roasted potatoes or cauliflower, fresh cilantro or green onion, warmed naan bread, and extra Greek yogurt & Tandoori chutney, because yum.
- In a non-reactive bowl, combine Tandoori chutney, Greek yogurt, green onion, 2 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of cracked black pepper. Mix to combine. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover, place in the fridge, and let sit in the marinade for 12-24 hours. Remove from the the fridge about an hour or so before you're ready to cook.
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish with aluminum foil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, scraping off any excess; discard the marinade. Season the chicken with additional salt and pepper. Set the chicken breast side up in the prepared pan.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F. If you find the tops start to char a little too much after about 30-40 minutes, simply cover with additional tinfoil to prevent further browning. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, cover with a foil tent, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with your choice of sides and good company (even if that's only your own - you're a badass.)
Find the entire line of Salt Spring Kitchen Co preserves – sweet, savoury, and spicy – on the Salt Spring Kitchen Co Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | At various markets around the lower mainland through out the year, and at a handful of select retailers across Canada.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Salt Spring Kitchen Co provided me compensation for the work I did developing a recipe and taking the pictures for this post. Thank you SSKC for supporting my blog! I only recommend, giveaway, or share products or services I love, use personally, and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions, words and information here are entirely accurate and a reflection of my true experience and were not influenced, in any way, by the above mentioned products or companies. Opinions and views are my own.