One of the things that I've been pondering is our concept of failure, especially in regards to changing our lifestyles to the paleo/primal continuum. I think that most people who have tried diets in the past have had one "treat" or "cheat" that was a gateway food and then felt like it was hopeless to continue trying.
Here's the thing: these little trips down memory lane are not failures. They are spaces in time that we have been given the opportunity to learn from. My mom had a better analogy: our lives are like a piece of plywood-just because it has a weak spot here or there does not mean it should be tossed out because these spots are surrounded by strong spots.
What we really should be doing with these weak spots is learning from them. For example: this past Saturday I was tired and didn't want to cook. It had been a really long day and I wanted nothing better to do than to go to sleep but I couldn't because I was hungry and my family was hungry with no food that was ready to eat. So I ended up choosing to go get a sandwich, a soda, and some Cheetos. I figured it would be my one cheat after 20 days of eating well. The next day we were at a birthday party that had pizza. I figured, why not? Just one slice. One slice turned into 2, as usually happens. Then, yesterday, I went to my moms and was feeling horribly stressed out because of everything that is going on around me and ended up eating SAD (standard american diet) foods for 2/3 of the day.
What did I learn from this? I learned that I did not fail (20 days is nothing to shake a stick at), that I am not at the point where even a nibble of non-primal foods can cross my lips without me wanting to pig out, and that I need better stress reduction techniques. Prior to this, during my 20 day sugar detox, I also learned that a paleo(ish) cookie is still something I cannot have just one of unless I am at my strongest.
So, what do you do after a misstep on your path to changing your life? You learn from it like I did and then you plan on what you will do when it happens again (because it will). Luckily for me Paleo Non Paleo recently wrote a post on 22 ways to beat sugar cravings. I've already begun implementing some of the techniques and am on Day 1 of trying to beat my 20 days sugar-free record. Which techniques am I using specifically?
1) Keeping a record of how long it's been since I have eaten sugar as well as my all-time record. I just made a simple log for this that I will update daily. It's laminated so it's reuse-able!
2) Blogging, obviously. I may not be the best at this yet but I plan to write for a 1/2 hour every day to get myself into the habit of writing again (this is also a stress reduction technique AND a way for me to love myself-more on this later).
3) Don't deal in sugary foods. I don't make them, rarely ever make primal alternatives, and am going to plan on not passing out any foods that tempt me (like I did at the party-this simple act changed my "no, thanks" to a "well, maybe one"). I do give my daughter primal cookies now and again that my mom makes but I can limit myself to 2 of these unless I am in a low. During these lows she doesn't get any unless someone else gives them to her. I need to take care of me so I can be a good example for her.
4) Know your limit. I can't have ANY at this point in my life and I am okay with that. This will really only become an issue around Christmas, anyway, since I plan on doing birthday alternatives for Gorgeous and myself, doing Halloween sans candy (as much as possible and the candy that is given will be given to my hubs unless he refuses), and bringing my own pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving (and probably some paleo stuffing since I LOVE it).
5) Eat good fats and protein: If I get a bad craving it's usually because I'm hungry or thirsty so I try to look in the fridge for what looks good and them modify it from there.
6) Swap bad for good: If a salad from the store looks good but it has stuff I can't eat in it then I make it myself. If I REALLY want chocolate (usually milk) then I may some bakers chocolate covered strawberries or something similar. Usually I just eat some bananacado pudding with Gorgeous.
7) Monitor your caffeine intake: I recently had some black regular coffee because I liked it and thought I could handle it. This preceded the SAD misstep by about a week and I kept drinking the coffee daily-something I haven't done in about 6mo. So while 1 cup may be okay I need to be extra vigilant to keep it that way.
8)Visualization. Sometimes I do imagine that the sugar craving is nothing more than the yeast in my belly saying "Feed me, I'm dying" and then I feel better. I want the yeast to die back!
I do so many more but I really think you should just go to her page to see what I mean. It's much more comprehensive!