The humble, perhaps slightly insane, tips that allow me to stay on the diet that keeps me feeling the best:
Rank absolutes: Absolutely not. Should not. It’s okay but not great. Yes, I will! As in, I absolutely won’t eat that. I shouldn’t eat that. It’s okay that I eat that, but not ideal. And, yes, I will eat that, pass it my way–give it here–yeah–the whole plate–it’s on my diet…
Define when to break the “absolutes” and “should-nots.” It could be never. Or maybe it’s Christmas Day. Or maybe it’s holidays and birthdays. Or the first Thursday of any month after a full moon. Maybe it’s 30 days after you start the Whole30 or 1 year after GAPS. Just name breaks ahead of time and be resolute to make it to those times. And don’t sneak in other times as “just this once.”
Decline people’s offers of food. And don’t feel guilty about it.
Don’t eat at parties. And don’t feel guilty about it. Usually, it’s just easiest for me to say I ate right before I came and eat nothing at all. Choosing ahead of time to just not eat at the party is simpler for me. As I always used to eat at parties, I never really noticed that some people don’t. There are other people who don’t.
Find a friend or two who eats similarly to you and doesn’t think you’re crazy. Gluten-free, dairy-free eaters have learned to navigate the waters. They’ve learned how to say, “No, thank you.” They’ve learned to socialize and skip the food. They know their “absolutely nots” and stick to them. They’re reassuring to stand next to at a party with a glass of water, although they may wonder why you keep saying, “I looove you.” (Actually I have a couple of friends, and we meet for coffee and talk honestly about how we are doing with our eating.)
Get out of the kitchen. If you feel the “crazy, grazy” feeling, get out. GET OUT, I SAY! Just get out! Clean kitchen or not. And run fast and far. Don’t look back until in the morning.
Focus on bodily symptoms that plague you when you eat certain foods and make it a goal to keep these symptoms GONE. Weight shifts too slowly. Try to find something like a stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, sinus congestion, headache, migraine, dry/itchy eyes, bloating, constipation, etc.
Read the book or internet site of your chosen regime again. “Yes, Robb Wolfe.” (Paleo) “No, you’re right Dr. Wahls.” (Terry Wahl’s MS diet) “Oh, Melissa and Dallas, I meant to do it that way.” (Whole30) “I should know better than that Dr. Atkins.” (Surely you know him.) “Dr. Cambpell-McBride, I so missed that point the first time around.” (GAPS) And so on. Just get motivated by reading the experts and the science again.
Know how YOU best handle treat (cheat) foods. Are you a “just-a-teensy-smooch-here” kind of person–just a little treat with every meal? Or are you a “you’d-best-be-prepared-to-bring-me-two-more-baskets-of-corn-chips-if-I-even-get-my-hands-on-one” kind of person? I’m the latter. A little treat here for me turns into treats all day, all night, tomorrow, the next day, and the next day, too.
That’s okay; I’ve learned to accept that tidbit of knowledge about myself. I just know that, and so I don’t treat myself very often, and when I do, if the floodgate opens, I don’t beat myself up too badly. It’s a little sad that I can’t be that “Don’t deprive yourself or you’ll ruin your diet” kind of person. Let’s just choose to say that when I do something, I give it gusto. Gusto…gustar…to eat.
Every person is different, and only YOU know which process suits you best. Be honest and move forward.
Finish it, let it go, and start with vim and vigor in the morning. Sometimes you fail. You don’t leave the kitchen. You take the first bite that you know will avalanche, and it does. You don’t put the cookie down, the butter away, or the peanut butter back on the shelf. You don’t leave the kitchen as mentally directed. You don’t get the faucet shut off that night. I unfortunately cannot leave a job unfinished either, and so I usually find it reassuring, for some reason, to just finish that food off there and then. Because if I don’t, I’ll finish it off in the morning. Why ruin two days? And then I stand there, screaming insanely at my diet, “Look. I am in charge here. And I did it because I CAN.”
Failure can only occur if you’re not willing to try again. I always try again in the morning and point out the bodily damage–but let the psychology of it go.
Loosen up on my family’s eating while I focus on myself. This keeps me out of the kitchen until I get back on track. I can’ t be all things to all people, and when I’m trying to get my eating on track, it takes all of my focus. “Yeah! Hot dogs again, mom? We love hot dogs!”
Screw the breakfast rule and wait until I’m actually hungry. “Experts” say to always eat breakfast. Sometimes, I’m just not really hungry! So I skip it. Then make sure I have good, wholesome food around so I eat as I should when I am actually hungry around 11 am or so. I’ve never read much on intermittent fasting, but I like to call this my version of it…
Admit when something about your nutritional program isn’t sitting well. Maybe you have to add in a potato to feel good or keep the program together. Maybe you can’t eat the sauerkraut or seaweed. Whatever it is, always step back and ask yourself if “the rules” may need to be changed to suit your case. Just as medicine is an “art”–I think nutrition is, too. But make sure you’re being honest and have researched your change, and that you’re not just doing it out of a discomfort that will pass.
Remember when you felt the best. And that’s your goal way of eating every day. When you FELT your best. Not your skinniest. Not your most miles jogged. Not your most strict. Just when you felt good physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.
Make sure you really are getting nutrients. Maybe you’re having cravings because you’re eating too many nuts and neglecting vegetables and fruits. Maybe you’re really not getting enough calories. Examine what you’re eating on the basis of nutrients. A nutritionist can help immensely here!
Urge surf. From another site: “While reflecting on an urge, such as smoking a cigarette or eating junk food…we should first make note of all the physical and mental sensations that create that craving experience – these craving experiences will often vary depending on the person and the object of desire. For example, you may identify a twisting sensation in your stomach whenever you crave another piece of cake. Learn how to tune into that feeling – step back and observe it – but don’t act on the impulse. Just watch your desires almost as if you are passively watching a movie.” Very interesting and helpful, I think.
You are great, special, unique, wonderful, and have lots to give to this world. Eat to make your system (your body) the best it can be at giving what only you have to give.
- I Fell Off of the Wagon (thehomeschoolingdoctor.com)