Is that even a possibility?
I'm reflecting on celebrations - we've just lurched through Christmas, New Years, various anniversaries, Waitangi Day and tomorrow is International Women's Day (happy IWD to all you fabulous women in the world!).
Life is short. And we want to be fulfilled all the time, and happy most of the time. We also want to be a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday. So how do we stay in control and not fall off the wagon?
There are three options, which aren’t mutually exclusive, we really can do all three!
- There is NO wagon. Leap off the wagon concept and become a Flexitarian...
- We can find OTHER ways to celebrate and make memories
- We CAN afford to treat ourselves in ways that don’t damage our health.
A flexitarian is someone who makes great food and health choices 80% of the time, because it’s what we do MOST of the time that matters, not what we do some of the time.
Yes, a flexitarian is a real thing – someone who makes a conscious decision to eat birthday cake knowing that they’re not doing this every day. Who wants to miss out on birthday cake and deprive themselves of that little moment to celebrate the special day of a friend or whanau? No one does.
A flexitarian doesn't deprive themselves. Rather, they make conscious and considered choices: “I am going to enjoy this slice of birthday cake today because it’s a special day for my friend, I’ve eaten well for two days and I deserve it”.
This is a different scenario to someone who unconsciously eats three pieces of cake, licks up the leftovers and sucks the icing off the candles because, well, they just aren’t thinking.
A Flexitarian enjoys the odd glass of wine: “I am going to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine on Thursday because I am going out with my friends. But tonight I am going to enjoy an ice cold water with lemon and ginger”. Rather than having an unconscious habit of walking in the door after work straight to the fridge and knocking off a bottle of wine before cooking dinner. Without thinking.
A Flexitarian thinks and plans ahead. And needs to be aware, so that the 80/20 rule stays close to 80/20 and doesn’t become 20/80. Engage the Flexitarian in you, and deliberately choose those occasions which will be part of the 20% when you enjoy what is being offered. Completely, guilt free but with an awareness.
As a Flexitarian we make conscious choices around when to be in your 80% zone and when to be in your 20% zone. The second approach to not “missing out” requires you to make alternative choices.
What celebrations do you enjoy on a frequent basis? How do you celebrate those events traditionally and what can be done differently, so that you are making good food and health choices on a regular basis?
Birthdays are an easy example. Birthdays at home, birthdays at work. There are so many ways we can celebrate birthdays without the traditional sugar fest cake - fruit kebabs, sugar free cake with yogurt for icing, hanging bunting and balloons, "birthday bliss balls" on popsicle sticks, flowers... kids are great at this sort of thing so get them involved. Take a real leap and change the traditions in your life so that you embrace celebration without feeling terrible the next day.
You are your own best friend (and worst enemy sometimes!). Just as we would treat a friend for a job well done, or at the end of a stressful week, we should treat ourselves too. How do we do this without compromising our improving health habits? Easily. Deliberately. Without guilt.
Instead of eating food that you think you desire but that ultimately leaves you feeling bad or guilty or flat or bloated or ill….. what other ways can you think of that you can treat yourself?
Here are some examples:
- Picking yourself some flowers for the house instead of spending a fortune on alcohol, takeaways or going out when all you really need is a ‘pick me up’
- Making healthy bliss balls that LOOK like a treat (trust me, healthy bliss balls will be a treat for your digestive and immune system!)
- Making a special drink which is an alternative to wine (dress it up a little with garnish like cucumber, lemon, cranberries, buy yourself some recyclable straws. Fancy!)
- Playing some beautiful music that means something to you….
- Writing a letter to yourself in a journal – saying THANK YOU for the amazing person you are!
- Baking a refined sugar free cake and decorating it with anything you want (the cake is the 80% and the icing is the 20%)
- Enjoying a bar of 80%+ chocolate – the higher the cocoa content the lower the sugar content
- Making a batch of healthy muffins and freezing some for later – just so you don’t eat them all at once. Or give some to a friend – you’ll feel so good for doing that it will feel like a treat for YOU!
- Soaking in a special bath – lavender oil for relaxing, light some candles (yes they CAN be the emergency power-cut candles!), allow yourself at least 15 minutes to relax and breathe….
Embrace celebration and treating yourself
The key is not to deprive yourself, and don't beat yourself up. Deprivation leads to binging and being mean to yourself, well, why would we do that to the only true life long friend we will ever have?
Just be aware and make conscious choices, find alternatives where you can and get others to support you in your mission to edit what you celebrate, how your celebrate and with what you celebrate...
Congratulations my friend!