So you have a goal to eat real, whole foods. Awesome – way to go. You go to the store and buy all of the organic, fresh produce you can fit in your cart, along with some cage-free eggs and pasture-raised meats. You start cooking at home and find that you actually enjoy it.
It’s now day eight and you’re on a roll – you’re not eating a roll – you’re on a roll. You’ve been eating completely clean – breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’re eating at home way more than ever before, and you like it! You feel ah-mazing and your increased energy is allowing you to do things you never thought possible. You’re becoming invincible.
Then it happens. A friend invites you to the movies and of course you go. You walk through the doors of the theater and that glorious smell of mouth-watering freshly popped popcorn is overwhelming. Oh no, popcorn was your addiction in a previous life, the life you left eight long days ago. Suddenly, the last eight days are a blur and you rush to get in line for your extra-large buttered popcorn (gotta get that free refill), and also a sugar infused, mega-sized beverage (for a quarter more, it just makes sense) and maybe even some sour gummies. You’re going down fast. Faster than Santa down a chimney. So much for invincible.
RELATIONAL, NOT SECLUDED
Maybe it’s not movie popcorn. Maybe it’s dinner at a friend’s house with homemade rolls or a graduation party with pizza and a sweets bar. The list goes on. Each of us has food triggers and habits that need crushing, like eating bread before dinner or chips and salsa at the Mexican food joint. Our diets and lifestyles shouldn’t hinder our lives. They should enhance them, right? Our way of eating shouldn’t keep us from being with others. Healthy social lives are vital because we are made to be relational – not secluded because we don’t eat “normal” food.
Ok we get it – we’re not invincible. Let’s own that and move on. You’ve heard of doomsday preppers? How about paleo preppers? We’re not going to those extremes, BUT … we may get close in the sense of prepping anyway.
BE A PREPPER
If you can train your mind to think ahead and plan ahead, you will experience greater success with your clean eating goals. Let’s start now. Take a look at your calendar. What’s coming up for you that you know might present a temptation to jump off the wagon? What can you do to set yourself up for success? That depends on your kryptonite.
If movie popcorn is your weakness, know that when you walk through those doors and smell it, you’re gonna want it. So strategize – 1) eat a great, nutritious, filling meal right before the movie starts, 2) bring a snack like raisins, unsweetened coconut flakes, jerky, apple slices, [you fill in the blank] or 3) choose to eat the popcorn – and be OK with that.
If it’s dinner at a friend’s house, neighborhood cookout, family picnic, etc. – know that there will be foods that won’t be the best for you (but that you probably love) and lots of them. So plan ahead and bring a dish or dishes that won’t wreck your progress. If you already know there will be a good meat choice, bring a green salad, fruit salad, a “treat” that fits your parameters, or other approved side dish. If you don’t already know whether there will be a good animal protein option, add some to your side dish and you’re all set. Or just go knowing that for this instance, you are going to make a conscience choice to eat whatever you want to – and be OK with that.
If you’re going to a pizza party, you already know there won’t be a thing there that complies with your program and goals, so go ahead and eat beforehand but also bring something to snack on – something that will fit in your pocket or purse. Or leave before you’re tempted. Or excuse yourself and go grab something compliant to eat. There’s always a way. The “way” may seem crazy to everyone but you, but there’s always a way. Of course, you can always eat the pizza (gasp!) – and be OK with that. Unless, of course, eating the pizza (or anything else for that matter) is going to seriously damage your body or cause your disease to flare up.
If you’re tempted by all of the before-dinner-goodies at restaurants: 1) simply ask them not to bring it (unless it will peeve someone at your table); 2) let them bring it and place it as far from you as possible; 3) let them bring it on because you’ve conquered your willpower like a boss; or 4) Don’t. Go. There. (at least until you’re able to bear it with some degree of dignity). Option 5 is to go there – and choose to eat what you want to – and be OK with that.
JUST EAT IT
There will always be something out of your control – spontaneous outings, weddings, baby and bridal showers, and the like. Just know it’s a part of life and it’s ok. There’s always a choice to eat what’s offered, politely decline food or stay home and be hermit-like (which I totally do NOT recommend). When is the last time someone died from eating BBQ beans or cheesecake? Unless you have a medical condition that would suffer greatly from ingesting certain types of foods, I vote relationships over food. Every time. Some of us need to relax a bit when it comes to our diet, at least in certain circumstances. And please be sensitive and considerate when there are no clean foods in sight – try not to be a food snob – nobody wants to be that guy.
I encourage you to take heart and know that there’s always a choice. You may have to plan ahead and it may take time and energy – but you can be as successful at eating clean as you want to be. It’s all up to you!
I’m rooting for you!