How To Thrive Over The Holidays When You’re On A Therapeutic Diet

Holiday foods pose a big threat for anyone who’s on a therapeutic diet. On one hand, you know that slice of apple pie will send you into a sugary, gluten-y spiral of despair. But on the other hand, your Aunt Linda’s pie is your favorite and she’d be so disappointed if you didn’t indulge. What to do?

Print out these tips, study them on the ride to the party, and recite them until the urge has passed. I promise, you’ll feel better on the other side.

The food will be there another time

Thankfully, we live in a time where most everything is available to us all the time. Sure, that apple pie might only come around once a year, but when you’ve healed your body, you can sneak a piece next year without the repercussions that accompany it.

Or, if you won’t ever be able to have it again because the fallout is just too great (hello, autoimmune disease!), use the opportunity to propel you into learning how to make a safe version. You’ll probably end up liking your new version even more because it’s a treat that won’t wreck you.

Give yourself an ego boost

You know when you do something really great that makes you beam for hours on end? Consider sticking to your plan a fast track to giving yourself a mental pat on the back. When you eat something you know isn’t good for you, you might feel guilty and full of despair. When you avoid it, however, the opposite is true. Cue the good vibes and happy dances.

Think back on past experiences

If the idea of high-fiving yourself isn’t getting you over the “just say no” hump, try thinking back to the last time you gave into temptation. Mentally and physically, how did you feel? What kind of self-talk happened? Were you able to stop after just one bite? Chances are when you think about a past slip-up, you’ll remember that it caused more pain than pleasure, which can help you fight the urge this time.

Remember that every day counts

If you’ve committed to a therapeutic diet, every day and every bite counts. In cases where you’re eliminating a food that could be causing issues, slipping up even one time can throw your body back into an inflammatory state and undo the hard work that you’ve already put in. Your body doesn’t know it’s a holiday, so if you’re struggling health-wise, even one day can make a difference.

Practice mindfulness

I have a saying that I live by: “is it worth it?” I use it when I’m faced with a tough dietary decision and I teach it to my clients as a way of getting them to stop and think before they take a bite.

Sometimes, it’s completely justified to have that third glass of wine or eat the fried chicken at your best friend’s birthday party.

Usually, however, we’re making food decisions based on impulse, mindlessness, or simply going with the flow of those around us. By pausing before partaking, we give ourselves time to weigh the question: is this really worth it? Most of the time, the answer is no.

Recruit a friend

Don’t underestimate the power of having a buddy who knows your pain and can steer you away from the dessert table. This person may also be on a restricted diet, but even if they aren’t, they can remind you of the reasons you’re sticking to your plan.

Maybe your goal is to get pregnant, get off your prescription meds, or finally kick that nagging depression. Share your goals with this person, and then ask that they remind you of them when you’re staring down the barrel of Grandma’s pumpkin roll.

Come up with a non-negotiable or two

You’ve likely heard the old adage that failing to plan is planning to fail. Nothing could be truer when we’re talking about holiday parties. Don’t wait until you’re faced with the option of whether or not to cheat — because you’ll likely crumble under the pressure.

Instead, decide in advance what — if anything — you’re comfortable saying yes to and what you’ll definitely decline. My advice here is to come up with one or two non-negotiables and stick to them like glue. These can be things like:

  • I don’t eat gluten under any circumstances
  • I don’t drink more than one alcoholic drink a day
  • I only eat when I’m truly hungry
  • I don’t start my day with a carb-heavy breakfast
  • I always fill the majority of my plate with vegetables
  • I take five deep belly breaths before eating any meal

When you have that list in your back pocket, making the decision gets easier because you’ve already made it.

Don’t self-destruct

If you do end up veering off your plan, don’t use it as an excuse to spiral out of control or beat yourself up. Instead, spend a few minutes self-reflecting or journaling about how the experience made you feel, then catalogue your feelings for the next time you’re faced with a similar situation. Getting stressed out about something that’s already done adds fuel to the fire, so if you slip up, let it go.


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