“It’s ok to have a lollipop.” At least that is what I tell my kids from time to time when they ask me if they can have one. Whether it be the dentist’s office, Grandma’s house or a teacher at school, your kids are going to be offered treats. I feel like most of the trouble with starting a new way of eating (or a major dietary lifestyle change) is that we get too attached to the idea of being perfect in regard to the food we eat. We set ourselves up for failure from the beginning. You are not going to be perfect and I am going to be the first to tell you that it’s ok. The mere fact that you are interested in the health and well-being of your family makes you an awesome parent. To try to eat perfectly, work out seven days a week and cook with all the ideal ingredients is just not realistic…especially as a busy parent. You’re going to have good days and bad, but the important thing is to get back to the good days and not give up on yourself.
I have a friend who attempted to eat healthier by cutting the foods that he felt were “bad” for him. In his case, this meant cutting soft drinks, sugary juices, fast food and greasy chips. He told me the first day he was on his diet that he was never going to eat those foods again. I knew he was doomed. For some people, going cold turkey might work well, but to say that you will NEVER eat something again puts the item right at the top of your subconscious. No matter how many healthy things you eat to try to satisfy your craving, it is very tough to forget how good something tasted to you in the past. For example, he loved Nacho Cheese Doritos. Even as you read this, you can taste them, can’t you? I am not going to sit here and tell you that they don’t taste good. They do to some folks, but they should not be a staple of your diet. So as you can imagine, he ate a small bag of Doritos a week or two into an outing when he was hanging out with friends. I saw him a few days after and asked him how his journey to a healthier life was going and he said, “I fell off the wagon, man. I ate a bag of Doritos and haven’t been able to get back on. I am really disappointed in myself.” He was really sad and thought that because he had one of his “cheat foods,” that all of the positive work he had done the weeks prior were for nothing.
It is possible to get back on the “wagon” if you fall off. A new day will come. Forget about what happened yesterday and continue on your journey. Learn from your experience and push forward. If you continue to incorporate healthy, plant-based foods into your life, your palate will change. You will begin to crave the “new” fruits, vegetables and whole foods you have started eating and all those other cravings will subside. When a craving does strike, it’s ok to satisfy that craving. The key is to not go overboard. If it’s a small bag of chips, then eat it, but don’t think that just because you have a small bag that you can go buy the super-sized bag and eat the whole thing. Give yourself a break and get back on track! I believe in you!