Decide, in advance, how much you want to ‘cheat’ from your normal eating pattern, this holiday season.

I know! I’m meddling. What a time to ask you to consider what you are putting in your mouth. But the flip side is that this time of year, more than perhaps any other time, you want your energy to enjoy the people and festivities around you.

Telling on myself: My doc has put me on a dairy and gluten free diet (save eggs). I thought the whole exercise was pretty pointless and ‘faddish’ considering the gluten craze sweeping the country. She told me to give it time. How much time, I wondered? I’m 3 months into this and am starting to notice some big differences in my health. Her message to me: “Don’t cheat, even when tempted. Healing takes time and it doesn’t take much to set you back.”

I have learned, the hard way, that I have to decide in advance if I’m going to cheat or not and make a plan for the cheat. If I don’t, I cave to the crave. If I have a plan, I use that as my mental escape route to keep me from hurting myself. It might sound something like this: “Is the few bites of yum worth the days of pain in my tum?” or “Is 1 minute of fun worth throwing away three months of work?” or “It’s good going down, but do I want the 48 hour headache as my payback?”

I may be more in tune with my body than others because of my ongoing health challenges, but the reality for each of us is that we can live to eat or we can eat to live. If you eat to live this holiday season, you might find you have more energy to spend with the people you love doing the things you love to do.

I’ve learned graciousness during this process – “Looks delicious! Not right now, thank you.” It has taken time to learn how to be kind and considerate while being careful and diligent. I’m learning.

COACHING CHALLENGE: How much cheating do you want to do this season? Decide in advance on the quantity and the quality of the cheat, considering the cost/benefit of both cheating and not cheating. January is right around the corner. How do you want to physically show up to the New Year?

*This coaching tip is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be followed without consent by your doctor. You should always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health care provider regarding any medical condition or changes to your exercise, diet or other health plans. Nothing contained in this tip or anywhere on our site is intended to be a substitute for the medical support and diagnosis that can be provided by your physician or another qualified health care provider.