Eating the Canyon Ranch Way

Your intention is to eat healthy – especially in times of stress – but what exactly does that mean? Choosing natural, nutrient-packed foods is part of it, sure – a big part. It’s not the whole story, though.

At Canyon Ranch, we believe that true healthy eating—the kind that you can sustain over a lifetime—is about adopting habits that allow you to appreciate food and enjoy eating while putting nutritious options on your plate.

Food should be both good for you and a pleasurable experience. And why does pleasure matter so much? It’s simple: If you enjoy healthy eating, you’ll make it your habit.

Healthy eating encompasses more than dropping down a size, lowering cholesterol or boosting your immune system. Meals are also an opportunity to nourish mind and body, connect with loved ones, appreciate the bounty of nature and excite your senses – all vital components to a happy, healthy life.

We encourage you to embrace all of these benefits to get the most out of your meals. Even in times when you can’t find a certain ingredient or your favorite fruit can’t be found, you can approach each meal with joy and gratitude for what you do have.

Go Ahead, Have Dessert
Canyon Ranch is all about moderation, not deprivation. You should be able to eat a three-course meal including dessert. The problem with putting a less-than-healthy food you love—ice cream, mac and cheese and so on—completely off-limits is that it sets you up for failure.

You may be able to forgo a beloved food for a while, but eventually you’re likely to succumb to your cravings and overdo it. Then comes the inevitable guilt from having fallen off the wagon. A better approach? You guessed it: moderation.

Do Watch Your Portions
While you can have a little bit of nearly all foods (we’ll never be on board with heart-clogging trans fats, for example), “little” is the operative term when it comes to high-calorie foods. In the Canyon Ranch dining venues, dessert courses are around 150 calories. All the dessert recipes on our website hover around this number for a single serving to help you pull this off at home, too.

Simply put, the best way to keep calorie counts down is to keep portions small. This goes for any high-calorie food, not just sweets—stay vigilant about not letting your serving sizes creep up over time. The trick is to fill up your plate with choices like vegetables and whole grains, instead of high-calorie options like dessert and cheese. Make the nutrient-dense choices the stars of your meals and snacks, with French fries, rib eyes and chocolate cake playing much smaller, supporting roles for special occasions.

Be More Experimental
Eat foods you enjoy while staying open to new things, because you might be pleasantly surprised. So you’ve never loved beets. Or broccoli. Or eggplant. Does that mean you never will? No—unless you never try them again. Even children—the most notorious of picky eaters—can move from “hate” to “like” after trying a food 10 to 15 times. And experts say we can develop new food preferences even into old age. For both kids and adults, it’s often a matter of how a disliked food is prepared; you’ve probably noticed the craze for Brussels sprouts and kale these days.

More restaurant chefs—including those at Canyon Ranch—are paying attention to veggies and preparing them in interesting ways that might delight you. At home, learning to appreciate vegetables could be as easy as roasting or grilling them, methods that, unlike boiling or steaming, bring out flavor and maintain some of veggies’ appealing crunch.

Have More Mindful Meals
There are many benefits to eating mindfully—from noticing when you feel full (so you stop while you’re ahead) to taking a break from the stresses of the day and having a sense of gratitude for our food and our lives. To practice mindfulness at mealtime, you might start by turning off the TV and other distractions and perhaps giving thanks for the food. A slower pace will also give you time to consider your hunger.

Think about your food and what you like about it. Are you enjoying the texture? The flavor? The combination? People have different sensory likes and dislikes, and thinking about them can get you to slow down and appreciate every bite you take.

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