Junk food you’ve craved for an hour or the health & fitness you’ve craved for a lifetime?
Having spent the last 4 days on my own terms, eating what and when I liked, I am now back with family for the weekend. While Mrs Nomad knows my immediate goals for this year, diet is always one of those ‘taboo’ subjects to discuss in polite society. In the words of Karl Steadman, my CrossFit Level 1 Course Coach, “here be monsters!”. This weekend is being spent with Mrs Nomad’s family in North Devon; we’ve not seen them since before Christmas and so this is a bit of a celebratory weekend in itself. They actually take a lot of care with what they eat normally anyway and so you’d think maintaining my ongoing plan would be easy. But, of course, what I consider right for me is not necessarily what they consider right for them. So how do I broach the subject of my eating plan and stick to the good work that I have managed throughout this week?
The answer is that I don’t. Not really.
When it comes to diet, I believe that it really pays not to take it 100% strictly. I own a great “As Rx” t-shirt that reads, “100% Paleo, 80% of the time.” I think this is a good approach.
- Firstly, you can become exceedingly boring (and bored) if you don’t allow yourself some freedoms in your diet. I am not advocating splurging out on weekends regularly but you have to accept that there will be restrictions in your planning and allow yourself some ‘play’ in your diet. For instance, I had to attend a last minute set of meetings in London this week. I did not have time to plan my own lunch and knew I’d be hit with sandwiches, sausage rolls and related ‘beigeness’. Thinking ahead, I grabbed an apple and tangerine on the way in, just to tide me over while everyone stuffed themselves with pastries. During the break, I was able to nip out and grab an (overpriced) egg salad with nuts, seeds, good fats, etc.
- Secondly, food and drink are an important part of social occasions; sticking to a diet distinctly different to those around you, unless you have a medical / religious issue that is understood by all, can appear extremely rude. To sit at someone else’s table, confronted by wonderfully roasted potatoes and a pint of Woodfordes beer, just to snub it in favour of “proteins, no carbs, thanks” is foolish.
- Thirdly, we’re playing the long game here. I’ve returned to how I was eating in summer/autumn last year, before the silly season kicked in. This is not about a fad diet to shed a few pounds before beach season (“Globogym! Because we’re better than you, and we know it!”). If you’re spending 80% of your time without the junk, sugar, alcohol, processed crap then you’re doing well. The fact is that much of the fun stuff is junk…really tasty, sweet, delicious junk. There are times when it is absolutely necessary to abuse yourself and have fun with others. And there are times where you will eat beyond things your control.
So don’t beat yourself up and get upset if you find yourself confronted with a plate of rice / potatoes / toast / beans (pick your selected dietary aversion). Control your portion size, be polite and enjoy it! If you really are focused on a longterm change then a few individual breaks are not going to harm you.