We are about 6 weeks into 2018 which means many diets and nutrition challenges are close to or have already ended. I will be very clear with you and tell you I am NOT a fan of diets, the diet industry, fad diets, how society tells us we need to look a certain way or be a certain weight etc etc. BUT of course, I have dieted before, participated in nutrition challenges, restricted and deprived myself of various foods leading me to binge and then feel guilty of my food choices and behavior. This is not to shame you for trying a diet or challenge but to HELP YOU transition from a temporary “solution” to lifelong habits and lifelong health.
I already told you dieting isn’t my thing, however, one thing I DO like is the knowledge and experience one can receive from them. Although, to make it a worthwhile experience we need to reflect on the experience. What did you learn, what did you like, love, hate about the diet/challenge? For example, did cutting out dairy make your feel less bloated? Maybe you realized the amount of access sugar you consume or that you really do not need that drink every night to destress?
I remember when I did my first paleo challenge. I thought the amount of allowed food was super tiny. No dairy, grains or processed foods?! 😮 What I took away from the challenge was the amount of (refined) grains I ate: cereal, bread, chips, crackers, pasta etc. After the challenge did I continue to deprive myself of grains, heck no! BUT I did realize that I didn’t need a large amount of grains, which ultimately led to me to decrease the amount I bought and consumed. At breakfast, I chose eggs over cereal, opted for open-face sandwiches for lunch, and added more vegetables then rice for dinner.
Moreover, in order to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to challenges and diets reflect on it. Write it down, talk about it with a friend or spouse. Not Reflecting means not progressing.
Limit the Post-Diet Binge: RESPECT your body and self
We’ve all been there, following a challenge/diet you go eat an entire pizza, a half-dozen donuts, a package of cookies, anything and everything you were not “allowed” to eat to past few weeks. Then the guilt sets in and you think all is lost from what you may or may not have accomplished. STOP right there. Of course, we are going to get excited to eat the foods we deprived ourselves of so X number of weeks or day HOWEVER we NEED TO REMEMBER to have respect for our self and our body. Enjoy a vanilla long John donut, savor a piece of Portillo’s chocolate cake, OR a slice of Lou’s deep-dish pizza. All foods have their place in the world. It’s a balance of 1) knowing we have freedom to have whatever food WHENEVER we want and 2) respecting our body and self. We know how certain foods can cause havoc on our mood, digestive track, and energy levels. Make peace with the food, know that you can have that food again and show love to yourself through respect.
Add Foods Back in without Guilt
Many diets remove entire food groups, claiming food X is “good” while food Y is “bad.” Do not feel guilty by adding any of their “forsaken” foods back into your routine post diet/challenge. If you do not have an intolerance to a food there is no need to eliminate for there is a place for ALL food in our lives. If you truly want and enjoy a food/meal yet deprive yourself of it, you’re not only taking about happiness J but most likely will end up binging on it sooner or later. Just like children, us adults want what we can’t have, so stop restricting things short-term and rather incorporate all foods for long-term health and healthy relationship with food.
Add foods back in but in an appropriate and respectable way. You weren’t allowed to have dairy but enjoy cheese. I recommend choosing high quality dairy sources: Siggi’s Yogurt (5-6 ingredients and 1:1 carb to protein ratio), 4% cottage cheese, a slice of cheese on a sandwich, crackers or sprinkled on top veggies.
As for that scary macronutrient “carbohydrates,” go for whole wheat sprouted bread, brown rice, oatmeal, lentils, and beans the majority of the time. Trying to keep these starches to take of 25% of your plate. Of course, donuts, cookies, a pretzel bun and chips sneak their way in here and there but that is a small minority of the time.
Add foods you enjoy back in while also continuing the healthy practices the challenge taught you. It is important to pay attention to how your body feels or reacts to certain foods. Listening to your body is the only way to know if certain foods might have an adverse effect to your body and or mood.
It’s a Marathon not a Sprint: Think Long-Term
“Slow and steady wins the race” It doesn’t sound sexy but it is key to lifelong healthy habits aka a healthy lifestyle. The busy, fast paced society we live in make us want the quick fix, the magic pill, but just life diets this is a TEMPORARY answer which can only make achieving a healthy lifestyle further out of grasp.
My relationship with food, just like any relationship is an ongoing process, working at it every day to achieve lifelong health. With anything you omit, ask yourself if you truly want it or if your depriving yourself due to something you heard on the news, from a friend, on a blog etc? A donut is part of a healthy lifestyle (did I just say that) when you practice respect for yourself (have it every so often) and do not feel guilty about it afterwards.
One meal, one day will not ruin you. Just because you went out last night had a few too many drinks and pizza slices does not mean you are back at zero and throw everything you have learned about a healthy diet out the window. Reflect and focus on PROGRESS NOT PERFECT.
Write Down Some Goals
I always like to end a session with goal setting. After we reflect, our journey to progress is not over. Writing down goals, whether for the next week, month, year, decade, it is important to write down your thoughts and your goals in order to move forward and onwards. Reflecting on the challenge is a great goal brainstorming tactic. As you write your goals, remember to make your goal realistic and attainable. Keep the tips above top of mind as we continue on your journey of lifelong health.