Holidays and holiday overeating are over and now we need to get back to normal. There’s no better way than detox.
Avoid all types of detox.
And while most people won’t do the drastic and sometimes dangerous step of drowning dietary sins in green juices, they will try to redeem themselves in some way or another and force the scale to show a lower number. Unfortunately, they will usually do it in a wrong way.
Aspiration for compensation
If you followed my pre-holiday advice and only moderately went overboard, limiting it to special days (Christmas and New Year’s Eve), there will be no need for redemption.
If, as expected, you haven’t, and your weight increased more than would be acceptable, try to resist the desire for quick compensation. This will almost certainly lead to rushing, overcompensating, and in the end stumbling, feeling of guilt, and possibly overeating, leading to a new need for compensation.
This leads into an enchanted cycle which gives you an unhealthy relationship with food.
Guilt creates psychological stress. Repeated stress has a negative effect on health. Since our modern insanely accelerated life already gives us enough stress, we don’t need to go looking for it in our diet as well.
Dietary guilt can be a consequence of two basic dietary behaviors: consuming what is commonly considered unhealthy food and eating too much.
Unfortunately, the media and unprofessional advice are the cause of black and white reduction of food to healthy and unhealthy. Division into allowed and banned, good and bad. Consuming healthy food will make you fit and healthy, and bad food will make you fat and unhealthy. And as a bonus, you’ll probably get judgmental looks from your food-conscious acquaintances.
Of course, it is not that simple. I can’t state this enough – there is no healthy or unhealthy food, there is only healthy and unhealthy diet. Water can be poisonous if you drink too much of it, and sugar can be a cure for a hypoglycemic diabetic.
In a healthy diet, there is no room for guilt for consuming „unhealthy“ food.
When we talk about guilt over eating too much, things get a bit foggier. Healthy dose of guilt is desirable and serves us as a reminder to avoid this kind of behavior. However, when the guilt becomes stronger than it should, or lasts long enough to cause fear of calories, food, even eating itself, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Easier said than done, I know. Developing healthy eating habits and relationship with food in a world that seems conspiring against healthy eating and healthy body weight takes time. Often, you’ll need help from a nutritionist. Contrary to popular opinion, a nutritionist isn’t just someone who will sell you a diet plan, but they will also teach you how to eat and how to think about food. A good nutritionist will do it, at least.
Imagine the world where you eat an „unhealthy“ meal, maybe even too much of it. Maybe more than one such meal in a day! However, you honestly enjoy it and think of a world as a better place because of it instead of blaming yourself for the dietary sin. You know that these meals won’t be the foundation of your diet, but you also know they’re not forbidden.
That is called healthy relationship with food.
How to properly redeem yourself?
For starters, don’t fear the scale.
More often than not, weight will go up during the holidays.
However, a large percentage of the excess weight is water. A short term calorie surplus (the consumed excess in relation to expenditure) is primarily stored as glycogen – sugar in your muscles and liver – which bonds two to three times more that much water. This type of weight increase will be larger in individuals who were on a reductive diet beforehand, especially if it was low carb. Add to the equation a larger quantity of food still in your digestive system, as well as excess salt, which also causes water retention, and these surges are not so unbelievable nor horrible.
Instead of radical dietary restrictions, start to gradually incorporate healthy dietary habits. One by one, if it seems too much.
First, determine the constant number and quantity of meals. Don’t rely on the feeling of hunger. Especially now that you’ve gotten used to eating more and tastier.
Make sure you eat quality items. Quality doesn’t necessarily mean organic. Or homegrown. Or seasonal. Not even fresh. But consume everything your body needs. Protein through fish, meat and eggs, fats from olive oil, carbs mostly from whole wheat grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy. The more colorful, the better.
Limit the number of meals you eat outside of home. Sometimes say no to a friend.
Drink enough water. I hope that’s not news to you.
Continue, or start, moving. Besides the activity itself burning some calories, exercise will reduce the possibility of further overeating because you’ll be sorry to „spoil“ the exercise. But be real and honest to yourself. Don’t set unattainable goals that will make you quit easily.
Whatever you do, don’t rush. Any type of radical diet that will put your body and mind under too much stress will most likely end before achieving its purpose.