The food freedom line has historically been a tight walk for me around the holidays. A year ago around this time, I spent several weeks on the struggle bus as you may remember from a previous post, but this year I implemented new coping skills that really helped me stay afloat.
I was more involved with cooking and meal planning our holiday meal.
I asked for extra support when I needed it.
I went last instead of first to make my plate so I did not feel rushed or pressured which allowed me to make more deliberate choices on what foods and how much I was putting on my plate.
I gave myself permission to choose in the moment if I wanted something or not. And this is what Food Freedom is all about. I didn’t say, “Yes Courtney, eat the pie, you can have the pie, or 5 slices of pie on Thanksgiving” I said to myself, “Courtney, when you get to the dessert portion of the meal, decide then if the pie is worth it or if you want something else instead, or maybe nothing at all.”
I literally said those things to myself, out loud, multiple times and it helped. It worked.
When I got to the dessert table, I decided to eat a piece of delicious gluten free carrot cake complete with luscious cream cheese frosting that my mother in law, sister in law and I made.
And it was so good, and so worth it.
I try to maintain a structured Whole30 meal plan around the holidays as it helps me make better choices when it is time to indulge. I swear the “treat” tastes better when I view it as a “treat” and not a dessert requirement or something like that.
Growing up I just thought that dessert was mandatory after dinner but that’s not true at all. That part is in my control and that’s been hard to adjust to but thankfully Whole30 has helped me tremendously with that.
So this past weekend, I went to a cookie decorating party where I got to decorate some amazing gourmet cookies that far exceed my decorating and baking ability without help. They were gorgeous. I went with a group of friends and it was an incredible experience.
As soon as I posted the photos of the cookies my inbox flooded with questions about how many I ate, if I was going to eat them and how I handled it.
It just depends. I let myself decide in the moment, not beforehand.
I did eat a cookie. Actually, the party was Saturday and as of day (Monday) I’ve eaten 3 cookies and I don’t feel guilty at all.
And in respect of full disclosure, my sugar dragon is roaring and I know I need to pump the brakes with cookie consumption but I have a grip on the situation thanks to the tools I keep in my Whole30 tool belt.
The holidays don’t have to be a scary time when you set yourself up for success. For me success looks like having a Whole30 meal template the majority of the time unless it is something that I consciously decide is worth it. My mom makes peanut butter balls once a year so you’d better believe I will make the choice to eat one or two or five when the opportunity presents itself next weekend when I am home for Christmas.
The Whole30 was not designed to make you feel like you are in food prison. It’s simply a nutritional reset to help you figure out what foods are worth it to consume and which ones aren’t. Of course if you feel like you are spiraling out of control, pump the brakes a little bit and pull a coping skill out of your Whole30 toolkit and implement when necessary. Maybe it is a mini reset or another Whole30 or maybe it’s asking support from a Whole30 Coach or friend.
The Whole30 does not want to steal your family’s holiday traditions from you and make you feel guilty for eating your grandma’s pie. The Whole30 does not want you to decline an invitation to a fun cookie decorating party either. It’s actually quite the opposite. The Whole30 is designed to carry you into your food freedom where you get to live your best life, eating the best foods that serve you. And sometimes, your mom’s sweet potato pie or (Melissa Hartwig’s chocolate cream egg at Easter) is in fact serving you because YOU are in control. You have made the deliberate decision to eat it… or not and that is the ultimate goal— to be confident in your health, habits and relationship with food. Whether the food is roasted broccoli or homemade cookie. <3