Kick diet setbacks to the curb
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
Living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment. Sure, there is room for indulgences – hello, chocolate cake! – and everyone’s dietary choices are different, but the pledge to make wholesome food decisions is the same.
Something else that’s similar? The roadblocks we’ll all meet along the way. They come in two forms: Those directed at us from other people, and those we place in the way of our own best intentions. You’ve heard it before, right? “Come on, it’s one cupcake. Live a little!” Whether it’s the conversation you’re having in your head, or one between you and your well-intentioned BFF, we’ve all experienced these moments of diet derailment.
Want to kick setbacks to the curb? Keep reading for three top saboteurs, and how to handle them to keep your healthy lifestyle on track.
Diet Setback No. 1: Friends and Family
They want the best for you, but this group is notorious for getting in the way of a healthy diet, especially when you haven’t always been known for your healthy eating ways. Why? Let me start by saying it’s not because they are being nasty or don’t want you to be healthy. Instead, friends and family will often cling to the “old you” – the guy or gal who would binge on ice cream with them, or go out for all-night nacho and margarita extravaganzas. While there are certainly times where you can loosen the reigns, it’s important you let these people know up front why you chose to make healthier decisions. Remember, while this is primarily a change for you, it’s a change for them, too. Ease friends into the “new you” by inviting them to go for a walk where you can giggle and show them you’re still the fun-loving friend they’ve always adored. Heading over to a family member’s home? Bring one or two of your new favorite dishes and show them how delicious healthy recipes can be.
Diet Setback No. 2: The Not-So-Nice “Friend”
Remember how I said friends and family want the best for you? That’s still true. But these “friends” are the people in your life who call themselves your friends, but allow other things to get in the way of keeping your best intentions at heart. Sometimes they are mere acquaintances, while other times they are coworkers or parents at your children’s school. You know who they are – they’re the ones who say things like, “I just don’t have time for that” or “I just want to eat normal food.” The truth is, statements like these are often attempts to mask guilt they feel for their less-than-stellar health habits. That being said, it’s important to always meet these statements with a smile and say something like, “Yeah, I used to feel that way, too, but I’m really proud of myself for the changes I’ve made.” You can also crack a joke and say, “Oh, well, being abnormal feels awesome!” And whatever you do, don’t let these people make you feel bad about your lifestyle. In moments like these, you’re better off hitting the gym to blow off some steam than curling up with a carton of Häagen-Dazs.
Diet Setback No. 3: You and Only You
You’ve heard it before and I’m here to say it again: Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. This, of course, goes for many areas of life, but it includes our efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s the double fudge brownies staring you square in the eye at the grocery store, or an “I’ll start tomorrow” excuse before you down a sleeve of Girl Scouts’ Thin Mint cookies, we’ve all been the victim of diet derailments of our own making. I’m not saying we should implement an all-or-nothing approach to food choices – in fact, it will inevitably set you up for failure. Instead, if you ignore the urge a few times and still can’t seem to shake it, indulge in a few bites of cake or one of your favorite cookies, and then call it a day. I like to remind myself and my clients to keep a mindset that says, “there will always be more cake.” I say this for two reasons: (1) Because if I indulge in every single thing that comes my way, then the train will never stop because there is always something deliciously naughty around the corner. And (2) because we don’t have to eat every last morsel of a treat! There will in fact be plenty of opportunities to indulge again.
Like I said, diet setbacks are inevitable, but they don’t have to mean you set your healthy habits aside for good. When it comes to friends and family, always greet the situation with understanding and assure them you’re still you – just a healthier version! And when grandma makes you your favorite pie? Take a small slice and enjoy a few bites. Every healthy diet has room for an indulgence now and then.
Make sure to also remember when it comes to keeping yourself on track, there will always be another birthday party, holiday or cute kid hawking cookies – in other words, another excuse. Keep being your own health advocate!
Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the author of The Gluten-Free Revolution and a certified health coach. She is also the author of the popular gluten-free blog, sincerelycaroline.com. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.