We’ve all been there – you set your sights on a goal (whether it’s dietary in nature or not) and you make up your mind to stick to it no matter what. But let’s face it, setting and keeping your sight on a goal is like dueling it out in the boxing ring. You’re constantly combating your opponent to receive the ultimate prize.
Your opponent goes by a name. It’s the infamous “trigger” or “sabotager.” You know it when you see it. It’s the person, place, thing, emotion or situation that draws you to pull your almighty willpower or self-control from deep within.
For someone attempting to put an end to the cancer sticks (cigarettes) once and for all, a trigger may surface when passing a familiar smoking venue you once frequented on your daily smoke breaks.
For someone who is trying to shed weight, it may clock in as a co-worker leaves your favorite homemade cookies in the break-room.
For someone like me, a Vegan-newbie, the mere mention of the holiday season and the consequent events surrounding it, bombards me with a multitude of triggers/sabotagers. You know what I’m talking about. It all starts with Halloween. Then you have to consider, Thanksgiving, company holiday parties, each holiday party hosted by friends and family, holiday treats in the company break room, Christmas Eve festivities and traditions, the big Christmas fa-la-la-la dinner, and of course New Years. This is the time when I will feel like I’m in full-gear, combat-mode against the enemy– myself.
I know that I have to be strategic. I’ll start that process by knowing/recognizing my triggers and arming myself with ways to withstand them with willpower leading the charge.
Do you plan to stick to a Vegan, Vegetarian, weight loss, or even a weight-maintenance diet plan during the holiday season? If so, do you know your triggers?
Here is a short list of my Holiday Triggers/Sabotagers:
- The familiar smell of mom’s home-cooking (she does it and does it so well).
- Peer pressure.
- Work-related holiday parties that don’t take into account that some people actually don’t eat animals or animal by-products.
- Familiarity/family traditions that are food-related and remind you of your childhood favorites.
- Naughty, seasonal holiday foods that you only see regularly during the holiday season (i.e. caramel apples, candy corn, eggnog, pumpkin or sweet potato pie, cheeseballs, etc.).
- Free food samples in the mall and those mega wholesale, warehouse clubs.
- Alcohol (too much will make me a loosey-goosey when it comes to restraint).
- Endless non-Vegan fare in the company break-room.
- Cookies left behind for Santa (better make homemade Vegan cookies this year).
- Shopping for loved-ones and not having much time to prepare healthy meals.
- Endless holiday “to-do’s” that leave very little forethought for meal prep.
- The feeling of “missing out” when Vegan options are limited or non-existent.
- Traditional, non-Vegan meals I have to prep for omnivore family members.
Here is a complete list of triggers/sabotagers that are on my heels throughout the year, but join forces with the holiday triggers as they climb and set up camp on my shoulders, starting around Halloween:
- Poor Planning: This is number one for a reason. It just about applies to each subsequent sabotager/trigger. This of course pertains to your meals/meal preparation. Don’t let poor planning set you up for failure.
- Alcohol aka Kryptonite: When you consume too much of it at a social gathering, it may invoke the need to scope out the cheese tray. Know your limit. Mine is about 2 glasses of the red stuff.
- Nostalgia: These are childhood favorites you grew up enjoying. For me, this would include: Doritos, grilled cheese sandwiches, spaghetti loaded with Parmesan cheese, Caesar salad, etc. Are you starting to see a pattern here? “Yes, my name is Nicole and J’adore cheese.”
- My Kids: Bless their little hearts. They enjoy being little chefs and guilting you into a taste test of their latest non-Vegan gourmet.
- Parents and Grandparents: When you’re visiting the family, it’s hard to resist the tasty family classics you grew up on. So avoid #5 by avoiding #1.
- Skipping Meals: This is a no-no even for an omnivore. Sudden hunger is like a hurricane – – it’s quiet, then comes out of nowhere and strikes you.
- Too Much of a Time-lapse Between Meals: Snacks are our friends.
- Busy Mom Syndrome aka Motherhood: You’re so busy that you don’t even notice that you haven’t had a thing to eat, nor do you have time to cook for yourself because you are always taking care of everyone else. So, you also don’t notice that you just took a bite of the wasted chicken nugget that Junior left on his plate. Again, you can avoid #8 by avoiding #1. You can also click here and try these Quick Vegan Meal Ideas.
- Stress, Stress, and more Stress: When you’re feeling like you are on the brink of imploding, you may slip-up. Do some yoga, take a nap, or do something fun to keep this one at bay.
- Sleep Deprivation: This has been known to cause overeating and poor food selection, according to some studies. When I’m sleepy and cranky, I am more likely to cheat. This affected me more in the very beginning of my transition. Now, if I’m sleep deprived, I end up carb-loading.
- Road Trips: Again with #1. Don’t get caught on the road with nothing to eat. It makes for a miserable car-ride. Keep the snacks in tow.
- Family Cook-outs: Hel-lo, #1.
- The Movie Theater: What’s a movie without popcorn? The aroma alone gets me gung-ho for the latest blockbuster. Newsflash – – traditional movie-theater popcorn is not Vegan. Although they may not add liquid butter, there is still that butter flavoring that comes on those mouthwatering kernels automatically. Sneak your own in, but you didn’t hear that from me.
- Sickness: When you’re sick, you just want anything that will stay down or make you feel remotely better. Hopefully that won’t be a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup.
- Co-workers: These folks can sometimes be one of your biggest antagonists. If you stay persistent, they’ll see that you mean serious business when another cube-mate is celebrating with another birthday cake and you politely decline. They will eventually come to respect your choices.
Now that I recognize what they are, how will I avoid defeat? Somehow I am visualizing myself applying football eye black as I type this.
With game-face on, the plan is to:
- Always come to combat (aka mom’s) prepared with Vegan options in tow.
- Keep fruit and veggies in full view.
- Stand by my convictions even when faced with peer pressure.
- Plan, plan, plan ahead.
- Prepare enough to have access to on those “extremely busy” days.
- Have my favorite Vegan restaurants on speed-dial when I’m out shopping.
- Load up the purse with Vegan snacks for extended shopping days.
- Drink wisely.
- Save your “overindulging” days for specific days and not everyday in between (i.e. go crazy on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but eat responsibly on days surrounding the holidays).
- Try new Vegan replacement options (the internet is flooded with them).
- Disassociate the reason for the season with non-Vegan foods.
If you have your mind set on a specific goal and the holiday season imposes a threat in attaining or maintaining that goal, just be mindful of your triggers, and always come equipped with your plan and your game-face.
You too can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.