HB6 (Healthy Before 6)
by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence
Wondering How to Thrive, not just survive the holidays?
In the season of eating, I’ve developed a strategy that riff’s off of Mark Bittman’s popular book “VB6”. His book’s premise is around eating a more plant-based diet by eating like a vegan (no animal foods) before 6pm. This can provide a cascade of benefits to both human and planetary health.
My holiday eating approach doesn’t focus on plant vs. animal, but instead locking in your diet to healthy foods and portions before 6pm. Now don’t get me wrong here, this isn’t free pass to strapping on the feedbag all evening. Instead it’s about keeping the daytime eating tight, so that you can enjoy holiday favorites at night.
The key to the plan working is creating habit around the food choices and meal prepping to make it easy to follow. The holiday schedule can be so demanding that it often leaves less time for exercise as well, so you really need to be buttoned up on nutrition to avoid the holiday health slide.
My general plan is pretty low calorie and high in nutrient density during the day. This even means keeping it in lock-down mode during morning and afternoon holiday gatherings. Yes, you can have your Christmas Cookies and eat them too, just not at every occasion!
Why keep it regimented in the day? Research has demonstrated that people are better able to make positive health choices at the start of the day and that willpower/motivation generally diminishes as the clock keeps ticking. In my years of nutrition counseling I’ve observed that most people don’t wake up in the morning saying, “You know I want to suck today and make bad eating choices.” That’s why typically breakfast is the most well balanced of people’s meals. I capitalize on that momentum with my clients and with my own human behavior. Kickin’ it healthy at the beginning of the day, leaves margin for sometimes foods that you want later on.
Your HB6 diet plan may and should vary compared to mine, as everyone has different nutrition needs. I recommend tracking your dietary intake on an app such as myfitnesspal so that you can know what your recommended calorie level is and where you are at as far as intake. Generally the HB6 plan is to eat no more than 40% of your calorie needs before 6pm and make sure they are high nutrient dense foods. That doesn’t mean you always eat the remaining 60% in the evening. Sometimes you will keep making healthful choices at night and get a little under on total calories at the end of the day. That can be helpful in keeping holiday weight goals in the long run.
So cheers to thriving through the holidays by keeping healthy eating the focus of your day! Then enjoy the margin you have for favorite foods at evening gatherings!
Here’s a sneak peak to my “general” HB6 plan (remember yours can/should be different and individualized):