The 4th of July is America’s birthday party. It’s a giant celebration with the whole country—friends, family, fireworks, and food—when we all become patriots, don our red tops (or sunburned skin), hang out in lawn chairs, and do what Americans do: EAT.
As with every holiday, the majority of fitness gurus, health practitioners, and nutrition NIMBYs (Not In My Belly, You [devil food!]) will flood you with reasons not to go swimming in the potato salad or how-to avoid the fried chicken, and instead offer an extensive menu of healthy alternatives to indulging in classic, bacon-wrapped patriotism.
I say eat bacon, dive into the p. salad and enjoy the fried whatevers! Holidays and buffets are not the problem, the rest of the year and your mindset are what should be on the guru naughty list.
Alternatively I’m going to suggest an Rx for FOOD FREEDOM this Independence Day. That’s right, declare your independence from the diet mindset and bail the post-party self-flagellation and guilt parade.
One freedom-from-food-obsession technique touted by many in the compulsive eating arena is to let yourself have as much as you want. Stop making foods good or bad, limiting, restricting, and obsessing over food. You want 14 Snickers? Do it. Craving the whole bag of onion potato chips? Indulge! Can’t stop yourself from gobbling the vat of fried chicken? Ok! Cause guess what you’re gonna want after those candy bars? No more candy…EVER AGAIN!
It might sound extreme, but when you consider what makes you want to binge, it’s not the freedom to eat what you want, when you want…It’s the opposite! Restriction, resistance, avoidance, and the diet-mentality are what gets you. You no longer listen to your body’s cues and start shoulding on yourself. When you are running through the can’t-haves and better-nots, or the “gonna start the diet Monday”s, you get crazy about food, obsess, and overeat.
In my recently released book, Love Yourself Fit, I call this Diet Row. “I better eat as much as I can now, cause Monday…” runs through your mind and you end up condemning yourself to an all or nothing mindset and sabotage what could have been a reasonable dinner tonight out of fear, restriction, and resistance.
The people I know who live a healthy and fit lifestyle, don’t avoid indulging on the holidays. We simply return to the normal-healthy range after a big day. The everyday, long-term behavior and choices neutralize the holiday onslaught of food. Exercising 3-5 days a week, eating veggies daily, and listening to body cues make the 4th, Christmas, or B-day cake in the office a non-issue.
Decriminalize food. Free yourself to enjoy the holidays. Become vigilant, not about your paper plate calorie count, but about your everyday practice of self-care, including learning to listen to your body and resolve the thinking that drives you to overeat.