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The Challenge of Eating a Healthy Thyroid Diet During The Holiday Season

Most people who consult with me for the first time are aware of the importance of eating a healthy diet.  Many of these people have already made some wonderful changes, as it’s not uncommon for me to consult with someone who is gluten free, dairy free, avoids refined foods and sugars, etc.  Of course there are also people who know they need to eat well, but haven’t yet made the necessary changes.

While people should strive to eat healthy most of the time, if someone begins a natural treatment protocol it is extremely important to be strict.  Every now and then in my articles and blog posts I discuss how I’ll indulge every now and then, as I’ll have a slice of pizza or dessert, or eat something else that I normally wouldn’t eat.  However, when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease and followed a natural treatment protocol I was very strict.  I began following a natural treatment protocol during the fall, which means that I eventually had to deal with the holiday season.  I also had a birthday during this time, and it admittedly was tough not having any birthday cake!

For those people following a natural treatment protocol in an attempt to restore their health back to normal, it is important to avoid the temptations that the holiday season might bring.  While many of the patients I work with do a great job of eating well, some people fall off the wagon as soon as Thanksgiving arrives, and many don’t get back on track until after the New Year.  I’ve had patients who were doing a wonderful job of following their diet for numerous months until the holiday season arrived.

Why Is It So Difficult For Many People To Eat Healthy During The Holiday Season?

One of the big problems with holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas is that many families and friends get together for meals.  This makes it extremely difficult to avoid the temptations, unless if perhaps you’re the host of these gatherings.  But even in this case this can be a challenge, as chances are most of your guests won’t be expecting a gluten free , low-carbohydrate meal, along with healthier dessert choices (i.e. fresh fruit).  Some people will prepare unhealthy foods for their friends and family members but will avoid eating them.  But for some people, it is very difficult to resist these foods.  If I had the temptation of pecan pie when I followed a natural treatment protocol I’m not sure if I would have been able to resist having a small piece!

Speaking of which, last year around Thanksgiving I had a couple of patients ask if it was okay to have a slice of gluten-free pecan pie.  If someone has just started a natural treatment protocol then it’s probably best for them to avoid these types of desserts, even if they are gluten free.  On the other hand, if someone can’t resist the pecan pie, then of course I’d prefer them to eat a gluten-free version.  But overall it’s best to stick with eating whole foods when someone is restoring one’s health back to normal.

But what about those people who have already restored their health back to normal?  Well, if someone has already restored their health back to normal and then eats a few bad meals or desserts during the holiday season this usually won’t cause a problem.  So for example, if someone eats some unhealthy food on Thanksgiving day, and then again at a holiday party, and one more time for a Christmas or Chanukah dinner, in most cases this won’t cause any long-lasting problems.  On the other hand, the person who eats junk food just about every day from Thanksgiving to New Years Day is more likely to encounter problems, and might even suffer a relapse.

What Can You Do To Avoid The Temptations?

When it comes to avoiding the temptations which come along with the holiday season, it really comes down to one’s mindset.  For example, I grew up eating mostly junk food, and even though I was eating much healthier before being diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, I was far from perfect.  But as I mentioned before, once I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease I was pretty strict.  And the main reason for this was a change in my mindset, as I just told myself that I was going to do everything I could to restore my health back to normal, and this included avoiding junk food until I had restored my health.

For other people it might be a greater challenge to make these changes.  For example, if someone works at a corporate job where they constantly have junk food available for the holidays and/or have holiday parties, then this can admittedly be challenging.  Similarly, if you do dinner at the house of a family member or friend who prepares a dinner consisting of plenty of carbohydrates (i.e. mashed potatoes, pasta, pastries and other foods you should avoid), this also can be a challenge when you’re constantly around these foods.  Of course you can simply plan to stay home for the holidays, which I realize might mean breaking a tradition, but when it comes to your health it is worth it.

With the corporate job example it could be a greater challenge, as I don’t know of anyone who quit their job due to the constant exposure of unhealthy food during work.  However, in this case you just need to make the decision that you will avoid all of the temptations and do whatever is necessary to restore your health back to normal.  And if you need a little bit of motivation I’ll tell you a personal story that some people reading this have already heard.

When I was a student in chiropractic college I went on my first liver detoxification program under the guidance of another healthcare professional (my nutrition instructor from chiropractic school).  I forgot exactly how long the detoxification was for, but it was at least one month in duration, and I had to avoid all processed foods, and initially had to avoid eating meet.  So I was able to eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and I think a small amount of grains, although I can’t remember for sure.  This was pure torture for someone who was used to eating plenty of processed foods on a daily basis.  In any case, I attended chiropractic college right outside of Atlanta Georgia, and during the detoxification I wanted to attend a seminar which took place in Orlando Florida.  I went with a friend, whose parents lived in Daytona Florida.  And so on our way to Orlando we stopped by his parent’s house and spent the night there.

We arrived right around dinner time, and I remember his father saying  “Let’s go out for pizza”.  Just like many other people, I loved pizza (and still do).  And if there was one big weakness of mine, it was pizza!  To make a long story short, I went to the pizza place with my friend and his family, and I ate a plain salad (no dressing, no croutons, no parmesan cheese, no chicken) while everyone else was eating pizza.  I realize for many people this isn’t a big deal, but at that time it was extremely difficult for me to avoid this temptation.  The reason I brought up this story was to provide some motivation, as if I was able to avoid pizza that night, there is no question that anyone reading this can avoid the temptations of the holiday season (yes, even pecan pie!).

In summary, without question it can be a challenge to avoid eating junk food during the holiday season.  For those people following a natural treatment protocol, it is very important to try to eat well during this time.  But it also is important for those people trying to maintain their health.  In order to avoid these temptations, the best thing you can do is to change your mindset and make the decision that you are going to eat healthy, and under no circumstances will cheat.  And you also want to try your best to avoid those situations where you will be surrounded by these unhealthy foods.