The start of school and the beginning of Fall always feels like the new year to me. It is a time for reflecting on the fun of the summer, and getting back into routines. It is also a time when the fresh vibrant salads become a little less frequent, replaced with heartier fare: stews, soups, and bowls of warmth. I look out the window and see squirrels packing their cheeks full of acorns, getting ready to settle in for a long winter. I can relate to them. I find Thanksgiving can really send me on a food rollercoaster. Poor food choices are at every corner, and I have found myself indulging more than I should in years gone by. You see, Thanksgiving begins an eating season that rolls through Girl Guide cookie selling, my birthday, my sister’s birthday, Halloween, my daughter’s birthday, and then the Christmas season arrives. That is a lot of opportunity for sugar consumption and over-indulgence.
As a nutritionist, I spend a lot of time helping people navigate times like these. If I am being totally honest, this is the first year that I have had a successful start to the season, because I am finally following my own advice! I tell people to plan for it to be hard and to find suitable and palatable options. The bowl of chips is crazy difficult to avoid? How about trying roasted nori sheets? Find a sweet table just too hard to resist? Avoid it like the plague and ask a friend to bring you a treat from it, or have a tablespoon of coconut manna (if you haven’t tried it, you should!!!) – you will be both satisfied and surprisingly satiated. A part of planning is to bring your own food if you know that the food being served doesn’t comply with your diet – going to a pizza and wings night when you have cut grains can be excruciating. Bringing a plate of wings that you made yourself can work. There are workarounds for everything and I would suggest that when your diet makes you feel amazing, you will find it less and less difficult to avoid foods that don’t work for you.
At the start of the school year, I made the decision to cut grains from my diet and really limit sugars. I knew that I wanted to beat this Fall season, and I felt I had to be hardcore. No more letting Fall win. I made the decision to be in control. First came the Brownie cookies. I decided that I wouldn’t open a single box, I mean really, who can stop at one?!? The decision to cut grains limited me on all the deliciousness that the season has to offer and I thought I would be miserable but I was willing to try. Grain elimination is a recommendation that I make a lot as a nutritionist. Meeting with a lot of autoimmune clients, I often find myself talking about grain elimination as a first step in healing. I am amazed to see how much better my body feels without them. My eyes feel so much clearer and my belly feels way less bloated (I didn’t even know my eyes were bleary or that my belly was bloated).
I often remind clients that there isn’t a second person in there making decisions for them, that they are ultimately in control of their decisions. People often tell me “I have no control” or “I have the best intentions, but I fail”. I can relate to those feelings, believe me, I can. The beautiful thing is that we are all works in progress, the best thing is that we have second, third, hundredth chances. YOU. ARE. IN. CONTROL. “I am in control” should be your new mantra.
For me, being in control means not opening that box of Brownie cookies. It means making amazing baking pears for Thanksgiving dessert. It means not buying Halloween treats until Halloween day. It means not having the first chip (again, who can have just one?). It means going for a fast walk in the evening when I am stressed from the day, not opening the fridge. It means bringing a snack or lunch when I will be out all day. It means just going to bed if I REALLY have the munchies in the evening and I am too zonked to go for a walk. It means not bringing my trigger foods into the house, because the temptation is too great after a day of work, kids, etc. It means (and this one makes me sad) not going to movies for the time being because I don’t feel strong enough to avoid my ultimate favorite treat: movie popcorn. I will get there, but I’m not there yet.
I am going to get through this crazy eating season feeling very proud of myself this year. If I have a bad day I will forgive myself and move on. I hope you can do the same. Love yourself enough to make good choices, and remember your new mantra… “I am in control”!!!