Why You Should Rethink Your Holiday Detox Diet

Why You Should Rethink Your Holiday Detox Diet

Welcome to January, the month of “resolutions.” For many, this means embarking on a plan of radical detox from the perceived dietary overindulgences of the holiday season.

If you felt like you overate during the holidays, you are not alone. Truth be told, you probably did eat more over the holidays than you typically do. Does that mean you ate too much? Or that you need to detox? The short answer to these questions is NO! But let’s explore further.

It actually is normative… to eat more than usual over the holidays. If you did not, that could be a sign of maybe having too much control and rigidity with your eating…-Joy Jacobs

The longer, more nuanced answer to these questions is that it really is a matter of perception. It actually is normative – that means normal! – to eat more than usual over the holidays. If you did not, that could be a sign of maybe having too much control and rigidity with your eating, which can be as problematic as overeating.

For most people, the holiday season is filled with favorite foods. Eating these long time favorites often brings back happy childhood memories, as well as feelings of love and comfort related to family and home.

If you felt like you ate a lot over the holidays, did you actually give yourself permission to enjoy those old favorites or was each bite tinged with waves of guilt, regret, or self blame? If it was the latter, this is what you may need help detoxing from.

Constantly reprimanding yourself, verbally beating yourself up, and chastising yourself like a naughty child is hard on the psyche, no matter how “justified” it may seem by your behavior. No one feels good after this kind of psychological dressing down. Eating too many cookies or drinking too much eggnog does not justify turning on yourself, no matter what. If you felt you overindulged almost daily over the holiday season, and berated yourself for it every day, your poor little spirit must crying out for mercy by now.

There has to be a better way, right?

Signing up for a juice fast, the latest trendy diet program, or another quick fix promise for weight loss may relieve your guilt, temporarily. All of these options give the illusion of solving the “problem” – your weight. But the downsides of this approach are many. First, strictly from a weight management perspective, research shows again and again that quick weight loss tends to come back right away. Moreover, repeated weight cycling wreaks havoc on one’s metabolism, often permanently. More alarmingly, restrictive diets can actually trigger binge eating and compulsive overeating – both of which can quickly derail any “weight management” plan. Binge eating can then take on a life of its own, quickly spiraling out of control and often leading to massive weight gain.

Signing up for a juice fast, the latest trendy diet program, or another quick fix promise for weight loss may relieve your guilt, temporarily. All of these options give the illusion of solving the ‘problem’ – your weight.-Joy Jacobs

More fundamentally, seeking refuge in the “diet” of your choice fails to address the underlying issues which may have driven the overeating to begin with. Failing to address these issues sets you up for another round of overeating next holiday season and the same round of self flagellation and dieting of years past. Isn’t it about time to get off the miserable diet treadmill?

Would you consider approaching things differently this year?

Here’s what I recommend: First, I encourage you to become a detective, a first class sleuth… not related to what others are doing, but for yourself, to help you better understand your patterns and triggers.

Think back to the times you found yourself scarfing down food faster than you could taste it this past holiday season. What was happening for you in those moments? Were you feeling anxious, bored, worried, stressed, something else? Now reflect back: Did you let yourself taste and enjoy the food? Or were you shoveling it down as fast as you could, vowing that it was your last Christmas cookie/bon bon/piece of pie/or treat of choice ever? If this was you, you know exactly what I am talking about.

The not so funny truth about us humans, is that when we put something off limits, it often actually becomes more desirable, causing us to overindulge.-Joy Jacobs

The not so funny truth about us humans, is that when we put something off limits, it often actually becomes more desirable, causing us to overindulge. Our survival instincts kick in and we start to eat like we are storing up for an impending famine. And that is what many weight loss plans involve. Of course, your beautiful body is trying to protect itself. Thank it, bless it, praise it for wanting to take care of you!

Now, hopefully you understand your patterns a bit better. You understand what was driving you to eat more than you would have liked and why. If you can start working on these things, rather than getting distracted and preoccupied by a draconian diet regime, you stand a much better chance of returning to your natural weight, that weight – unique to each person – where your body and soul can thrive.

You deserve the very best for yourself. Please claim it this year!

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