It seems advisable to talk about the ‘post-holiday’ diet before the holidays, for that is when a decision is made to embark on it.
Or perhaps, more accurately, to embark on it again, for the same decision was made in previous holidays, and in those that preceded them, etc. The ‘post-holiday’ diet is the most popular of all. Its simple rules make is so common: eat, drink and be merry to your heart’s content, and then some during the holidays – indeed, eat (and drink) as much as you possibly can, for immediately afterwards, we will go for broke, and limit our food consumption to the extreme. This is also known as ‘eat and drink, for tomorrow we die(t)’; or, less dramatically, eat and drink without restriction over the weekend – we’ll start the diet on Monday.
The result is always the same: after a few hours, days or weeks, the diet ends and we return to our previous state of affairs. That is, until the next ‘post-holiday’. This is a diet chosen by millions all over the world, and despite its overwhelming failure, it seems as strong as ever.
How could that be?
The diet’s attraction is embedded in the fact that it hides the depressing limits in the near future by highlighting the promise for immediate pleasure in the present.
And so, our promise to ourselves that we’ll ‘be good’ and impose severe restrictions on our eating in the future, grants us permission to expand the quantity of our eating in the present.
For our mind, the part in which we eat plenty, perhaps in gluttonous fashion, is actually part of the diet, and therefore legitimised. In other words, our future diet permits now something that is normally impermissible.
What can we do to escape this state of affairs? Give ourselves permission!
What kind of permission? Here – to each (and each’s needs) his or her own.
Some people have a need to eat large quantities because their day-to-day is characterised by constant limits on quantities. Others need to eat certain dishes because this is the context of their regular restrictions. The more you find that you are prone to a ‘post-holiday’ diet, the more likely it is that you live in a world of restrictions and limits, and thus need permission and confirmation.
And now, imagine … that you had permission, to eat exactly, but exactly, what you need. Permission that is not contingent upon anything, including a future diet.
How would your life look like now? You may be surprised to hear that this permission is readily accessible. It is yours to keep, particularly if you have left your parents’ household and are primarily responsible for your nutrition.
The feeling that you are subject to restrictions and limits is not real. These are imaginary bonds that may be released. They are the construction of your brain to protect you from voracious eating, because someone programmed you to believe that you are bad, bad, bad; and if you were to be given true permission, you will eat vast quantities of unhealthy food all day, every day. In reality, this mechanism is inefficient. Lo and behold: every chance you have, you eat insatiably, and promise to start a diet … after the holidays.
What can we do?
We start by paying attention that, as adults, you have full permission to eat anything you want, at any quantities, and the diet police will not come knocking on your door. Truly, you are really free and permitted to eat anything. Anything.
And now note that standing next to this grand permission is her big sister: choice. The fact that you have permission to eat anything, at any quantities, does not mean that you have to choose to do so to feel better or to feel free or to spite someone. The freedom is yours, and within it resides the freedom to choose.
Choose to nurture yourselves, inasmuch as is possible, with the best food and in the quantities that fit your precise hunger, and you will never need any diet, and surely not the most spectacular failure of a diet. The skill to choose well may be developed with ease, but for now, just accept the simple fact: permission is granted! No need to act as if it isn’t, and play cat and mouse with it.
To better manage your holiday meals, make sure that you eat well during the day, and even just before the meal – nutritious and relaxing food that nourishes and makes you feel great. Doing so will increase the chance that the food during the holiday meal will not feel like a rope cast to a drowning but rather like a pleasant and delicious meal.
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