If you are living a healthy lifestyle (Paleo, Whole 30, Sugar-Free, whatever), the holidays are rough. I am not going to lie. Last month, I wrote a blog post about how to socialize while on the Whole 30 program, but the ideas listed there work for any diet or healthy lifestyle. Even though those tips and tricks are useful, the holidays can be especially difficult because, in addition to lots of parties and gatherings, people tend to give food as gifts. One very sweet friend of mine, not realizing that I eat Whole 30 all the time, asked me if I had any dietary concerns that she needed to be considerate of when putting together my gift- cookie plate. I guess I could have said, “Yes, I eat no sugar, no grain, and no dairy.” But I didn’t want to come across as difficult or a jerk, so I said nothing. Luckily, I didn’t eat any of the cookies she gave me, but my husband, Erik, wasn’t so lucky. Between him and my father-in-law, who also tries to eat Whole 30 all the time, they devoured the plate within the first 15 minutes of me handing it to them. And that’s the thing, once you eat something “off-limits,” you tend to go crazy afterward.
I didn’t emerge unscathed either, even though I did manage to escape the cookie plate. I ate more than my fair share of unhealthy stuff this holiday season. Ugh! Part of the problem was that Erik and I had talked about it and decided that the holidays were too hard and that we would go back on the Whole 30 starting January 1st. And once we made that decision, I began letting myself eat whatever I wanted to, because, “Hey! It’s not January 1st yet.” Big mistake! So please, learn from my error. In hindsight, here is what I would have done differently:
Schedule your parties
Use a calendar if you have to. Or iCal or something, but schedule all of our parties out. Take a look at them, and take note of when they are. If you know that one of those events is going to be especially difficult, like it’s the one gathering a year that your Aunt Helen makes her corn chowder, and you just have to have it, then be flexible. Allow yourself to eat it, and move on.
Forget all your other dates
See all those days that are parties? Do you know what the rest of the days are? Not parties. Don’t give yourself a starting date or end date for rebellion. If you have a day that is an ordinary day, eat like you ordinarily would. Believe me, it’s a lot easier to do it that way than go insane for a couple of weeks and then try to regroup.
When you do go off plan, write down how you feel
I really wish I had done this. I know everyone is going to love me sharing, but the days I went off plan, I spent an inordinate time in the bathroom. I had headaches, and just in general, didn’t feel good. Not to mention that nothing tasted as good as I remember it having tasted before. I really wish I had written all those thoughts and feelings down, and then I wish I had read them every time I was tempted to eat something.
When I say pray, I don’t mean pray in order to resist temptation, although that would certainly help. I mean, pray to increase your connection to God. Because I have noticed that when I feel closer to God, I want to eat the things that God created- whole, natural, real foods, not things created in some Marie Callendar’s laboratory. And if praying is not your thing, that’s okay too. Do whatever it is this that makes you more grounded and connected to the environment.
You are not perfect. No one is. My whole life I have deeply struggled with perfectionism and more often than not, I have been my own worst enemy.
For example, when I was in elementary school, I always wanted to keep a diary. It felt like the thing to do, as an adolescent girl growing up. And to me, being a good diary keeper, meant writing in that diary every day. But do you know what would happen? Life. And I would sometimes forget to write. However, instead of forgiving myself and moving on, I would beat myself up. As a result, I would then stop writing for months or maybe even a year at a time, only to then go out and buy a new diary and start over “being perfect” in my diary keeping. I have noticed I periodically still treat other things in my life like a diary, and you might too. Don’t let your diet or your health be a diary. If you make a mistake, forgive yourself, and move on.
And there you have it. 5 ways to get your diet back on track after the holidays, or how to not to get off “track” to begin with. And now I want to hear from you! How was your eating this holiday season?
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