Today you are scared. You are hopeful. You are optimistic. But you are scared.
Today the insanity of Christmas eating finally and truly comes to an abrupt end. Today you have chosen, and the rest of the world will finally let you, to start over with your eating. You—will—eat—better. But why the fear? What’s that niggle? Niggle—go away! Go away! Niggle won’t go away. What’s it saying? Let’s listen.
It is saying, “You failed. Last year you failed. The year before that you failed. And the year before that you failed. You always fail. You’re no good at this. This year, you will fail too. It is just a matter of time before you fail. The journey is too great. It’s too big. Too overwhelming.” Is the niggle right? Have you failed? Are you starting your New Year in doubt? Is it too much to take on?
I understand your doubt. Historically speaking, your doubt is right. The precedent has been set. The journey is big. But I challenge you. I challenge you to permanent change. Forever change. A forever diet. A diet that when there is turbulence and chaos all around you, you can run back to its safe harbor. Oh, yes! Yes! Tell me! What is it? Well, I cannot tell you your “forever diet.” You must seek it out for yourself. But there are some good common starting points that if you implement, will get you pretty darn close. Start here. And for now, try thinking in absolutes, despite what the “diet” experts say.
The rules I either play by–or have played by:
1. Eat no processed food. Eat no processed food. Eat no processed food. If sugar was added, put it back. If flavor was added put it back. If color was added, put it back. If preservatives were added, put it back. If it has been bleached or ground, you should strongly consider putting it back. You will eat no processed food.
2. This is important. Keep a spiral bound notebook of lined paper on the kitchen counter. Write everything down which passes your lips each day. Best if you eyeball measure it too if you are struggling with low weight or excess weight. You will do this for at least six months. Up to two years, depending on how mired down you are. In this notebook, besides what you eat, you will briefly note each day how you feel and ANY bodily symptoms too. The goal is to see patterns in what you eat and how you feel and function. It takes months, so keep at it! Don’t get lazy. Don’t get settled. Don’t get down. Write it down. This notebook is your accountability partner. It’s watching you so you can watch yourself.
3. Eliminate all grains and dairy foods for thirty days. Pick your 30 days and steel yourself. Do this fanatically. No cheating. Some bodies do not do well with grains and dairy. They just don’t. Cheating is like picking the scab off of your boo-boos. Boo-boos don’t heal if the scabs keep getting picked. So make the 30 day test a strict one or else you will not get an honest response from your body.
- When you bring grains and dairy back in, don’t bring them in at the same time. Pick either grains or dairy to start with. Don’t bring both back in together.
- When grains come back in, do so one grain at a time, preferably starting with gluten-free grains. (Geesh, this will take forever. No. Not forever. Just a long time.)
- Write in your notebook. Notice how you felt those 30 days without dairy and grains. Observe if food cravings pick back up when you start eating them again. Observe if your grouchy mood comes back. Or your “yell voice.” Or your acne. Or your constipation. Write it down. Take the food group back out if something seemed to come back, even if you are incredulous that they could be related!
- If you see that grains and dairy DO have a strange hold over you, that’s no good. Talk to a nutritionist about how to develop a good diet without grains and dairy. It can be done. “What will I eat?” There is plenty. Take your choice be a sick, grumpy butt with grains and dairy—or seek out a new forever diet which is nutritious and keeps you feeling good and smiling. It is your choice. Others have gone before you, and they are looking back at you, saying, “Come on. Come on. The waters are good. (So are the apples and Brussels.)” And also look into “leaky gut” to see if tackling this issue would help you be able to introduce certain grain and dairy products that you think would benefit you.5. Regulate sugar (in ALL its forms) like it’s the last $20 you have to your name, and you don’t know if and when you’ll get more.
6. Use fats and oils to flavor your foods to taste. To make this easy for now, because it is a complex topic, stick with extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. (Butter is good after you’ve made sure you tolerate it.) These two fats have good health properties and studies now behind them. Use them to make your unprocessed foods taste yummy. You need to let go of the fat-free fad. We don’t like food fads. Fat-free was a food fad. Well, actually it was a misunderstanding!
7. Choose foods you like, but make sure they are not processed. Try some new foods you’re afraid of.
8. Find some seafood you like and tolerate.
9. Eat lots of vegetables. Plan meals around vegetables. Don’t limit yourself to salads. Roast them. Boil them. Mash them. Grate them. Fill your plate with them. Roasted are my favorite, by the way. Roasted till they have a golden brown color and then splashed with some olive oil and salt.
When you have this down, if you’re still not feeling well, don’t be afraid to look deeper. But I’ll betcha’ you’ll be pert near close.
This would be a great start to your journey. Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up. Don’t fight the same battle over and over in the same darn way. Regarding diet, it is often said that people don’t do well with absolutes. They do better with moderation. For some people, I think that is true. For others, like me, I think that is a gross lie. I have done well the last two-three years with a mind set that acknowledges that I simply can’t have certain things. Period. I did beat my head in several times (lots of times), but with honesty, I moved to the secure knowledge that I am safe if I abstain. It hurt to admit I wasn’t strong enough to control my eating. But in this way, this more absolute way, I have found success.
So do you think your forever diet might need to be more absolute? No. I know you don’t want it to be. But that’s not what I asked. Don’t try a new diet per se. Try a new mindset. Find out what control food has over you, and then break those bonds. Stay away from processed foods. Stay away from sugar. Figure out other weak links, like dairy and grains.
I do caution people about vitamin and mineral deficits. Our processed foods are supplemented with artificial forms of vitamins to try to make up for common deficits. Those deficits can’t be ignored just because you’re eating a “good” diet! The common deficits are the B vitamins, vitamin D, iodine, and calcium. Usually by making sure you eat salmon, seafood, some red meat, eggs, lots of leafy greens (particularly spinach and kale), and broccoli, you do a pretty good job covering bases. Sometimes a calcium supplement or iodized salt or other supplementation may be needed. See your doctor for health problems. Don’t be an ostrich. Take good care of yourself.
Good luck! You can do it! Take the first step, and each day, just keep stepping. Use your accountability tablet. Absolutely avoid processed food. Regulate sugar. Watch out for pesky foods which cause side effects.