Christmas is Not a Diet Killer and January 1st is Not a Magic Diet Fixer
It’s the season for sweet treats, heavy foods, and overeating. Obviously my patients want me to fatten me up for something special because this is a pretty close representation of what my reception area looks like:
It’s that time of year where even the guys with the most strict eating habits break down and have a cookie or 3. I even helped myself to a nice cheat meal last week. I was out with my fiancé the Royal Palm Beach Commons Park for one of their monthly Food Truck Invasions.
I had helped myself to a large portion of barbecue brisket (fat and all) and was feeling pretty satisfied. My fiance and her friend decided to split a nice desert from the French Crepe foodtruck. A ridiculous Nutella and marshmellow concoction that looked and smelled like type II diabetes.
The funny thing about eating well most of the time, is that you will feel like garbage when you load your body up on sugar. Sure enough, she started feeling pretty crummy within about 10 minutes. That’s when she said this little gem:
“I can’t wait until New Year’s so I can start eating better again”
Of course, being the loving, caring, and sometimes sarcastic significant other I am, I challenged her and replied:
“Is there something magical about the New Year? Why wait till then?”
Probably not the best approach I’ve ever had, but it gave me something great to write about this week.
Go Nuts on Christmas, It’s Just One Day
People are often worried about their diet getting derailed by the holidays. There have been plenty of bloggers who have addressed the issue about creating healthy and paleo-friendly meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Now if you are someone with a condition that is dependent on your diet (celiac, diabetic, autoimmunity), then of course you need to find alternatives. However, if you are otherwise healthy and just dieting for weight or health purposes, then I say eat to your heart’s content. Here’s the thing about Christmas and Thanksgiving that no one ever talks about.
It’s just ONE day.
Changing your diet for one day will not kill your eating habits if you don’t allow it. In fact, I find that it reinforces your good eating habits when you do it right. Why? Because when you feel like crap after gorging on cookies, soda, alcohol, and sweets for one day, you are probably going to feel pretty crummy mid way through, and certainly through most of the next day.
When you do things right, your body lets you know when you’re doing things wrong. The problem is that this plan doesn’t work if you choose to let the entire holiday season de-rail your plans.
One day may not throw you off your goals, but that 35 day window between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day can sabotage you physically and psychologically
Thanksgiving puts people into the holiday mentality for eating. While Thanksgiving is partly responsible, it’s the days that happen afterwards that spiral out of control. It’s the leftover pecan pie. It’s the work holiday party for your office, and then the work holiday party for your spouse. When people start making poor eating choices repeatedly, it becomes psychologically deflating to maintain healthy habits. It’s you just say:
Welp, I’ve eaten like crap the past few days, I guess one more isn’t going to hurt
“I’ll Get Back on Track on the New Year”
What is so magical about January that says you need to wait till then to begin doing things right again?
Nothing. There’s nothing special about January 2nd. The planets aren’t aligned to make you weightless. The moon isn’t going to change your hormone output. It’s just another lap around the sun
Sometimes we have to change the way we think about our habits and routines to create meaningful change in our
health. That includes changing the idea that New Year’s is when you are supposed to get healthy. Here are some tips:
- Feast on Christmas, fast the day after– Maybe not a true fast, but think about reducing your calorie intake immediately after Christmas. Calorie restriction and fasting have been shown to have rapid change on endocrine function and metabolism. If you’re feeling up to it, there is promising research that support 15-24 hour fasting and the effect that it has on growth hormone, alzheimer’s disease, longevity, cancer prevention and immunity.
- Say No to Left Overs – Christmas meals are usually designed to have lots of left overs. Everyone leaves with doggy bags of pecan pie and pot roasts. It can be a very liberating feeling to say no to these leftovers. When it’s not in your fridge, you have nearly a 100% chance of not eating it the next dayYes, there are starving children around the world that would love to eat your left over pumpkin pie. You putting it through your digestive system does nothing for them, but it sabotages your metabolic health. Pass on the left overs, donate some money to Feeding America, and sleep better at night.
- Do a Challenge with Friends – Don’t wait till New Year’s to start a challenge. Get some friends, family, or co-workers to do a healthy eating challenge. There’s no shortage of effective programs, so find one that fits right with you. Most of the time, the program isn’t what gets you losing weight, it’s the dedication to a prescribed eating plan that delivers the results.If you’re self-motivated, fantastic, do it on your own, but there’s really nothing else like having a team go into the trenches with you and holding you accountable.
Don’t fret about feasting on Christmas. Take some time and really enjoy food on this one day. But don’t let that one day set you back from weeks or months of progress. There’s no such thing as a magic day for eating, but there’s a ton of magic in showing an indominable will.