When I gave up refined sugar on January 2, I was kind of excited. It had been 5 years since I was at the early stages of eliminating something from my diet (gluten, dairy, soy lecithin). Yes, it was difficult to give up sugar. But in the last few weeks, I have to admit how much fun it's been trying to come up with new foods to eat. So much has been stripped away from my plate, that I'm relearning how to eat and trying new things I would have never found otherwise. It's cool because I get to shift into new habits and explore things I didn't know were out there.
Dealing with the overwhelming emotions of a new diet is really difficult. Especially in the first two weeks - but over time it gets easier and more manageable. So while you're on the early stages of that journey, or hit a rough spot down the path, here are some tricks to get a little more excited about eating!
1. Try to keep a healthy relationship with food. This means actually taking time to eat - preferably in a designated place for "eating". Don't eat lunch at your desk, put your phone down, try not to be distracted. Don't shove food in your face while running out the door, either. Keep your focus on each bite- the taste, the texture, the way it feels, the sounds-- instead of mindlessly consuming. And don't rush it. Chew every last bite.
2. Jazz up your plate. Presentation is everything, so if you're feeling down about your diet, make sure that you put a little effort into it. Get a fun placemat, a cool fork, or try those food in a jar meals (it's different and interesting..). Break out of your old routine, and make things as visually appealing as possible. Your mind is a very powerful tool.
3. Try eating with your hands. I love to eat with my hands, especially kale. I'm not sure why, but it just tastes better. Don't be afraid to get in there - it'll bring out the little kid inside and make eating more fun. Let yourself break "the rules".
4. Eat new things! I never would have eaten quinoa or amaranth if I didn't get forced into gluten-free. I never would have tried almond milk, or coconut milk, or nutritional yeast if I hadn't given up dairy. And I LOVE all of these things - I just didn't know it at first. Now that I'm off refined sugar, I've been eating dates, apples & peanut butter, popcorn, so many things I enjoy but totally forgot about. Commit to trying at least ONE new thing a week.. & more if you find the opportunity.
5. Focus on "I can eat.." instead of "I can't eat". Wishing for your old diet is not going to change the reasons you have a new one. So give yourself some time each day to feel sad about that, but for the rest of the day, focus on what you can eat. You'll discover new favorites and lots of food you didn't even know existed. Your mind set will control how well you accept this.
Relearning to eat is hard. Believe me, I feel you. But it can also be really fun if you think of it more like an adventure. And, if you keep the focus on today and this week, rather than "FOREVER", it's way easier to handle. Before you know it, you'll be a pro at your new eating style. Have some fun before you get there!
If there's something you're struggling with, let me know in the comments below and I'm happy to share my thoughts.