Latest posts by Monique Nelson (see all)
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Whole Foods Holiday Feasting
How to Satisfy Your Hunger Without Having Eater’s Remorse
One of my very favourite ways to NOT diet is to eat whole foods. It is my belief that if you are eating real food – not something grown, processed and packaged in a lab but real food that is grown, produced and distinctly un-packaged by nature – than dieting is mostly unnecessary.
Around any holiday season, the stress, time off from work/school and influx of family tends to drive us towards food more than any other time of year. So the big question comes up – can you “cheat” your diet, just for a few days?
Sure you can! But…wouldn’t it be better to just kick your diet to the curb for good and start to love the food you eat, stress and guilt free, every day of the year?
When you’re eating REAL food, you can let yourself add up a few extra calories every now and then, because they’re not empty. They’re full of nurturing and nutritious, energy giving health!
Let’s dive a little deeper…
What Does A Cheat Day REALLY Mean To You?
There are a lot of reasons I try to encourage people to avoid dieting, and mental health is a big part of that. The same thing goes for “cheat days.”
Food is a considerable source of pleasure for most people, and if you are going through your life right now just wishing and hoping and hanging on for “cheat day,” than I can guarantee you whatever your goals for the diet are, the results are going to be very short lived.
If you do like what you’re eating at every meal, than eating those foods will not be sustainable for you. Now – that is not to say that you can’t LEARN to like the foods you are eating, I am living proof that you can absolutely change your tastes! Transitioning to a healthier eating plan can and probably will take some time.
But if you hate everything?
If every meal leaves you feeling hungry and unsastified?
If there is no place in your eating plan for your favourite foods?
Most of all, if you can’t sit down with your friends and family to eat a meal without calling it “cheating”?
Something is wrong.
On the other hand, if you generally love what you eat and feel great after eating it, but perhaps your trying to limit certain foods for a particular reason….
- in hopes of self-diagnosing a food intolerance
- returning to your post-baby healthy body weight
- healing from an injury or illness
- or many other completely healthy reasons to be watching what you’re eating
Than having a “cheat day” could mean something entirely different for you.
So it’s time to have a little conversation with yourself: why are you so ready to “cheat” on your eating plan?
Guilt Free Reasons To Feast Over The Holidays
As mentioned, I believe strongly in the power of whole foods. I also don’t believe in shackling yourself to a diet that causes you extreme discomfort.
Food – especially whole food shared with family, friends, love and laughter – should be embraced in an entirely guilt-free manner. Enjoying yourself while eating should not automatically be defined as cheating!
Here are a few reasons to relieve yourself of dieting responsibility over the holidays:
- Someone else is cooking. If this is the case, your ability to make decisions is going to be somewhat limited. I’d recommend arriving with a dish in hand. Something you know you love to eat and is going to provide you with a healthy dose of fresh ingredients. If you default to your own food, you’ll be less likely to over-consume something that may leave you with that unfortunate feeling of eater’s remorse.
- You have willpower. Now, you have to be honest with yourself about this, because lying about it will do you absolutely no good. For instance, I have no will power. I know this about myself. If I start eating potatoes, for example, I probably will not stop eating potatoes until I have to be rolled away from the table and directly into bed. Where I will stay long enough to digest, and then return sneakily to the kitchen for more potatoes. I just LOVE potatoes! And I have no willpower. But if you happen to be the magical sort of person who can eat a limited amount of your favourite treats and then … stop … well, you are my idol and please, enjoy yourself! One or two days of indulgence is going to have little affect in the grand scheme of things. If you can stop and start at will, why bother even calling it cheating?
- You’re teaching your family to be open-minded. Most people are sorely unskilled at trying new foods. At some point, (I think it happens around 3 years old, but I could be off by a year or two) we develop a fear of new food. It seems like, in today’s convenient modern world, that escalates to a terror of plant foods. Learning to try new things, keeping an open mind and experimenting with foods that don’t fit into your regular eating plan can be really great! Especially if you’re trying to set an example for children. Kids are little mimics – if an adult who matters to them doesn’t like something…they are 100% less likely to like that same thing. Even IF it used to be their favourite food in the universe. Of course, take this tip with a grain of salt – experimenting with liquid sugar, deep friend in fat and dusted with salt is not what I mean. But if your new sister-in-law brings her family’s patented sweet potato pie, and you grew up only eating pecan pie? Give it a try. You never know what will happen!
The Road Paved With Not So Good Intentions
If you are eliminating foods from your eating plan for a specific, healthy reason, I can think of very few reasons (if any?) that are going to make you rejoice in the decision to cheat.
Letting lose over the holidays under these conditions is simply going to make you feel unhealthy again.
Unless you suffer from a severe allergy, it’s unlikely that any temporary indulgence is going to cause you serious harm, but it could give you indigestion, fatigue, inflammation and soreness and many other side effects from binging on food that doesn’t serve your body well.
If ANY of the following sound like they’ll be true for you, please reconsider what you put in your mouth:
- Once you pop, you can’t stop
- You will mentally beat yourself silly tomorrow, for what you eat today
- The jeans you’re wearing will require an open button within 10 minutes (extreme bloating is NOT, in fact, normal)
- You will spend more time in the bathroom that at the games table
- You pre-stocked your purse with over the counter meds – such as antacids
All of the above will most definitely cause you to wish you had never eaten “xy and z” in the first place. If food makes you feel bad, don’t eat it! There is plenty of incredible food out there that will make you feel energized, and vibrant and full of life. Cheating, I’ve heard, is a loser’s game.
If you’re going to regret your decision, why put yourself through the pain?
Stick to the food that you KNOW makes you feel great, and you don’t have to cheat.