Surviving the first week of a new diet
It may be sweater season, but the turkey won’t un-stuff itself.
The nation’s biggest drinking day (Wednesday) and overeating bonanza (Thursday) are behind us, and the mirror may be reflecting it. Sure, there are still more holiday gatherings on the calendar, but why not jump-start a transformation now rather than on New Year’s Day … when resolutions are made just to be broken?
The first few days of a new diet are always tough, especially while there’s still pie in the fridge, but you’ve got this! Follow these suggestions in order to survive at least until 2018.
Lay off the leftovers
The hardest part is letting go … of your traditional faves. Bring the leftovers to work, send them home with your guests or relegate them to the deep recesses of your freezer (where those Halo Tops masquerading as ice cream are currently). You’ve had your day of indulgence and it’s time to start fresh.
By fresh, we mean buying fresh. Rule of thumb? Only shop along the perimeters of your supermarket (all the crap is in the middle, but along the outer walls you’ll find the fresh stuff), and think of it as an opportunity to give your fridge a make-over.
Make a plan
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when making sweeping changes to your diet. But a map’s easier to follow when it’s detailed and you know what to expect in advance (not like when Siri springs a “turn right in five feet” on you). Once you’ve established the right diet for you, be it a reduction in complex carbs or meat or sugar or gluten, an increase in vegetables, eliminating certain crutch foods or otherwise, plot what you need and when on a calendar. A “to do” list is easily ignored when it’s not written down in front of you or on your phone.
Meal and snack prep
Spending a Sunday afternoon dicing, poaching, measuring and Tupperwaring (it’s a word now) a week’s worth of meals isn’t just a Gym Bro move these days. And it can be a reliable tactic when you have holiday parties to attend. If you’re able to stick to what’s in your bag rather than hovering over the spinach dip or succumbing to take-out after a late night of merrymaking, that’s you succeeding at this!
Dip your toes rather than diving right in
Like all changes, you’re less likely to embrace a complete 360 when it comes to your daily food and beverage intake than you would be to a gradual shift. It’s much easier (on your mind as well as your gut) to slowly introduce or restrict items. If you’re new to paleo and go whole hog from day one, you may feel a bit wonky; similarly, a no-carb life change will find pasta fans famished … at first. Give yourself some leeway so you’re ready to crush this on January first when everyone else is suffering.
App it each day
There are several apps, many of which are free, that help you track your energy consumption and output. That is to say, you don’t need to keep an old-fashioned food journal — rather, scan barcodes and track every cup of coffee and you’ll see a report on your daily calories, protein, fat and more. And each flight of stairs climbed will count against that total. It’ll become as addictive as sugar-free Candy Crush before you know it.
A major deterrent for new dieters is that you won’t see success immediately (millennials: WHAT?!). This isn’t because you’re doing anything wrong. It takes time to see changes outwardly, and if you try to judge success by numbers on a scale prepare to be disappointed at first. Hopefully, you’ve cut drinks high in sugar and have replaced them with loads and loads of water. Well, guess what – water carries short-term weight. Your body’s on a slow journey of transformation. Just feel smug that you’re a month ahead of everyone else.