Month of Magical Eating

Guest Post: Lisa

My eating policies are generally sensible, and owe a lot to Mark Bittman:

  • Lots of fresh vegetables
  • Fresh fruits when they’re high in fiber and nutrients
  • Vegetables and whole grains for breakfast and lunch, and meat for dinner maybe four days a week
  • Little to no refined flour or sugar
  • Protein-rich snacks like string cheese and nuts
  • At least 64 ounces of water daily

And three or four times a year — typically after a vacation or any period where I’ve gone off the healthy-eating reservation — I reboot my system with two weeks straight of eating only vegetables, lean protein and lean dairy like low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese. No fruits, no breads, no pastas, no sugars or starches. Two weeks is just long enough to file down my sweet tooth, reinforce portion control and remember on how to tell when I’m satiated. It’s definitely a detox for the system, and I’m not exactly starving on any menu that can include (turkey) bacon and eggs.

However, detoxing occasionally feels restrictive.  And to get myself through the days when I could cheerfully murder a whole-wheat-crust pizza or splurge on chicken tenders from Carl’s Jr. (with the honey-mustard sauce, oh my god, that sauce), I remind myself of why I do this. Two words: the holidays.

I refuse to buy into the chick-magazine-mandated panic over gaining holiday weight, and I refuse to take said magazines’ advice about sticking to carrot sticks at the company party. More importantly, I refuse to feel guilty when I indulge in once-a-year treats. Yet I also refuse to gain weight during the holidays. 

Enter my three-step plan, which I call “The Month of Magical Eating.”

Step One: Some time in October, spend two weeks eating only your lean proteins, low-cal dairy and lots of vegetables. This helps you refrain from strapping a bowl of Halloween candy onto your face like a horse’s feedbag, and you’ll glide into November with your portion control calibration intact and your smart eating habits in place.

Step Two: On Thanksgiving Day, declare opening festivities for The Month of Magical Eating. 

Here’s what makes The Month of Magical Eating so special:

  • The “month” lasts from Thanksgiving Day to the Sunday after New Year’s Day.
  • You can eat anything you want, in any amount you want.

Step Three: On the Sunday after New Year’s Day, sweep the house clean of any residual sugary foods and get back on the vegetables/lean protein/low-fat dairy wagon for two weeks. 

For me, the beauty of The Month of Magical Eating is that it lets me balance the good habits that stick — giant salads for lunch and with my dinner — against things like “I’m going to have approximately 10 peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses on top and call it breakfast” or “dinner will be four pigs-in-blankets at this cocktail party, and I’ll eat a three-by-three inch square of homemade fudge for dessert when I get home.” Starting on Thanksgiving makes for a festive launch to a great season of once-a-year foods. And I _never_ gain any holiday weight. 

And the weirdest, yet most beneficial side effect? By the time December 16 rolls around, I’m already curbing my own wretched excesses, because three weeks of eating Hershey’s mint milk chocolate miniatures _whenever I want_ actually gets old. (I know! I never think it’s possible when I rip open that first bag on the day after Thanksgiving, yet by December 17th, I’m over them.)

The Month of Magical Eating is a powerful motivator during any detox. It’s a psychological release valve during a time when many of us may be grappling with weird, holiday-related emotional issues. And it’s a way to have your Christmas cookies and eat them too. I’ve already marked it on my calendar for 2010 and 2011.
Thanks so much Lisa for sharing this with us. This is Lisa’s second guest post. If anyone is interested in writing a guest post for Go Fit Girl! let me know via comments or send me an e-mail to: