Holidays can be a little fear-inducing for people on a strict diet. All that food, all that temptation… it’s so hard to resist, even when you know it’s bad for you or that it’ll make you feel totally crappy afterwards.
Last year, I prepared a full-on Christmas spread for friends, complete with a lot of food I couldn’t eat – and I managed not to cheat (lord alone knows how). This year, I’ve planned ahead and shouldn’t have trouble sticking to my diet again, even though we’ll be dining at someone else’s house.
From experience, here are my tips for avoiding the festive cheat (and its consequences).
1. Tell yourself that cheating isn’t an option. It’s taken me a good few years to GET THIS, but it’s actually not okay to cheat from time to time. Think about it: Have you ever strayed from your diet and felt okay afterwards? Probably not. More likely, you’ve been doubled over in pain, stuck in the loo or simply feeling yucky and remorseful. Why go through all that? It’s just food.
2. Tell everyone else that cheating isn’t an option. Your family probably knows you’re on a special diet, but just to cover all your bases, remind them that you can’t, under any circumstances, eat dairy/gluten/sugar, etc. It’s much harder (and super awkward) to cheat when you’ve been banging on about the evils of gluten to anyone who’ll listen.
3. Make sure there’s a lot of food you can eat. I’m not talking one or two side dishes added to the menu as an afterthought. I mean properly planned, carefully prepared foods that you’ll enjoy. If you’re eating at home, this is easy because you’re in charge of the menu. If you’re dining at someone else’s house, tell them (don’t ask) that you’ll be bringing a few dishes that you can eat. Make extra, because I guarantee people are going to want to try it.
4. Plan ahead. Always keep snacks on hand, because those dips and bowls of chips are going to start talking to you when lunch is delayed. Also, not being starving when you get to the table means you’re less likely to overindulge and eat foods you shouldn’t be eating.
5. Don’t think of it as a food fest. Most of us on a healing diet have come to realise that a special occasion isn’t a legitimate reason to binge (there’s never really a legitimate reason to binge). But the festive season is admittedly hard – I mean, everyone is eating, as opposed to on your birthday, when it’s only you gorging on chocolate cake and Tumbles and watching Spice World in your PJs while checking out the Mr Delivery menu (No? Just me?). Anyway, push through the urge to binge and think of it Christmas as an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones and enjoy each other’s company. I get that this is a challenge for some people, but even if your family drives you absolutely batshit crazy, don’t let it send you straight to the ice-cream tub (unless you’ve made your own ice-cream).
6. Have dessert. Speaking of ice-cream, one of the surest ways to feel like you’re missing out is by being forced to skip the dessert part of proceedings. It’s sad and depressing… and when everyone else is tucking in and being all like ‘OMG this is the BEST chocolate lava cake I’ve EVER eaten in my ENTIRE life’, you might just cave in and ruin all your good work. Bring your own or prepare something you can eat, but make sure there’s some kind of sweet treat you can enjoy. Pure Ella is a great place to find the most mouth-watering, healthy, all-natural recipes. Again, make extra, because everyone’s going to want a taste.
7. Stop feeling like you’re missing out. Stop rueing the fact that you can’t eat the bread pudding and start being grateful that you’re on a healthy, healing eating plan that treats your body right and ensures you eat only high quality, natural ingredients that make you feel great. That’s something to be ecstatic about! In fact, forcing yourself to think like this every day will make it a habit, and you’ll soon start to feel less hard done-by and more satisfied and happy in your choices.
If you have any other tips to share for sticking to your diet this festive season, please share them! We can all use all the help we can get 🙂