During this time of the year, temptations exist everywhere. From office potlucks to ugly holiday sweater parties, to family get-togethers where the mashed potatoes are made with potatoes, not cauliflower, and your grandma is asking you to try just “one more bite” of her home-made pumpkin pie, sticking with Atkins may seem a tall order. But it’s doable, while still savoring a few treats. The first thing to remember is that Atkins is not a quick-fix crash diet. The new healthy habits you are learning will hopefully become a lifestyle. There aren’t any “forbidden” foods, but there are foods that will put you on the path to fat burning and weight loss, and other foods that will stop your progress right in its tracks. It’s up to you to decide if the mashed potatoes, cookie or slice of pie is worth it to you. You can have a day of indulgence, but then it could take you four days to get back into fat-burning mode. Is it worth losing a week of burning fat just for a few tempting treats? There is good news. Research shows that as you decrease your carb intake, the cravings for those very carbs will begin to decrease. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to make it easier to stay on the path to fat burning and weight loss:
- Plan ahead. Make sure you have healthy snacks readily available, which will make it less likely for you to stray. Have a hearty breakfast with eggs, then a satisfying low-carb snack like an Atkins Advantage bar before your office holiday potluck so it’s easier to resist fresh-baked cookies or sweet potato casserole. Even better? Bring some of your favorite Atkins-friendly recipes to any potlucks, parties or family gatherings, and keep your body fueled with the foods that keep you in the fat-burning zone.
- Eat regularly. This is huge. Your blood sugar drops when you skip meals, and your primeval response to this hunger is the urge to eat anything. Eat three meals a day, and two snacks of your choice. This will help keep your hunger in check, and make it easier for you to make good choices.
- Create a carb deficit. If you know that you'll just have to have a piece of Grandma's pumpkin pie at Christmas dinner, cut back on your carb intake for a few days ahead to offset your indulgence.
- Focus on progress, not perfection. It’s inevitable that you might stray at one point. This is OK. But don’t use this as an excuse to give on up on Atkins. Get right back on track with your next meal.
Many people find out that once they succumb to a moment of temptation, it’s really not worth it. The food that used to be a regular part of your life, whether it’s cookies, crackers, candy or French fries, may now make you feel like crap. Your body has become accustomed to healthy foods and carefully chosen carbs; re-introducing white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, even for a moment, can throw this careful balance out of whack. Your moment of temptation may actually strengthen your resolve once you realize that these foods just don’t taste that great any more. But it’s important to be realistic. Temptations will always be a part of life. Enjoying a few bites of some of your favorites is not the end of the world. If you maintain your weight during the holidays, you’re winning the battle. If you gain a few pounds, if you’re doing Atkins 20™, hop back to Phase 1 for a couple of weeks to lose the few pounds you might have gained. If you’re doing Atkins 40™, go back to eating 40 grams of Net Carbs a day until you’ve lost the weight.